Hangout Music Fest: Things get LOUD on a diverse day 2

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hangout Fest founder Shaul Zislin looking forward to unplanned ‘magical moments’ hours before this year’s festival opens.

Sitting at the epicenter of the festival he co-founded, Shaul Zislin admitted Thursday night’s Hangout Music Fest Kick-Off Party didn’t go off at 100 percent. But the Detroit soul singer played it off, and when sound – if not the stage lights – came back on, he brought the crowd back into the groove with a version of the Run DMC/Aerosmith mash, “Walk This Way.” The crowd of several hundred cheered and, best of all, Hawthorne rolled with the punch, moving past the issue and on with the night. During an interview in the artist village prior to his set, the blond-haired musician said, “The most important aspect of any Mayer Hawthorne show is fun. Fun is number one for me.” And the first half of his set reflected that as Hawthorne – who counts R&B heavies Curtis Mayfield and Barry White as influences – showcased a variety of music, including his most recent evolutions mixing hip hop and soul.

Zislin was impressed with how he handled the “technical issue” which he said went on for “13 minutes too long.” And as for the roughly 7,000 fans roaming around the festival grounds, he wasn’t surprised that there were no boos, and that folks were already buying into the chilled-out vibe the sixth-year festival is known for. “Hey, it’s Hangout man,” he said. “(The Kick-Off Party) gives an opportunity for a lot of people who are not going to the festival to get a taste of it, which is great.” Things will start gathering momentum early Friday as tens of thousands of weekend pass-holding fans flock to the Gulf Shores festival sight to hear more than 80 groups scheduled. Headliners like Beck, the Foo Fighters and the Zac Brown Band are the obvious draws, but Zislin said he’s more looking forward to discovering “these amazing bands that have these breakthrough sets.” The example he gave was Athens, Ala., band the Alabama Shakes who, one year after organizers comped them tickets so they could hand out demos and enjoy the Hangout artist experience, took the eastern Surf Stage and brought the sandy house down. He mentioned performers Future Islands and Vance Joy – playing the western Hangout Stage on Saturday and Sunday, respectively – as some he and other organizers have been watching on the rise. “There are definitely a number of young and up-and-coming bands that are mixed in with the established acts, and it’s going to be great,” Zislin said.” On the whole, the Thursday Night Kick-Off was also great, with nine acts sharing three stages and a range of sound. The younger members of the crowd – most in the signature Hangout Fest uniform of bathing suits and flip-flops – danced to EDM groups like Grandtheft and Black Tiger Sex Machine in the Boom Boom tent. While a mix of folks, including several festival performers, gathered for the main show at the Palladia Stage where, once the technical hiccups were ironed out, blues supergroup The Word brought its high-energy blues fusion to the twilight.

It can only be assumed that had The Word been booked to perform over the weekend, there would have been some impressive sonic tributes to blues giant B.B. And while it was by all accounts a successful prelude to Hangout Fest, Thursday night did have the feeling of Christmas Eve, where the vibrations of future echoes could almost be felt before the weekend even started. He said expanded shade areas will help beat the heat and, perhaps even more important, flushable toilets will make their debuts. “Now we’re six years into it,” Zislin said. “There’s always challenges to be worked through, but they’ve definitely been fantastic partners helping solve problems.”

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