A Perfect Weekend of Poolside Paradise: A Review of Hangout Music Festival 2023!

Hangout Music Festival 2023
Hangout Music Festival 2023
Non-stop partying, music from the biggest acts in the world, and some much-needed chill time in the stage-adjacent hot tubs: Hangout Music Festival proved a weekend to remember in Alabama with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, SZA, Paramore, The Kid Laroi, Noah Kahan, and many more amazing artists!

My expectations were high, but man, this weekend was insane.

Hangout Music Festival brings the entire town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, a small coastal town on the water, to a standstill for the weekend. As you drive down highway 59, all you could see are swarms of young people trekking towards the beach with their glitter and colorful swimsuits. The mood in the air was light and palpable, as the party was just beginning.

As I explored the festival grounds my first day, the excitement only got stronger. Every square foot of the beach was filled with entertainment and memories to be made. There were roller discos, beachside pools, Ferris wheels, cool brand activations, next-level festival food, six stages, and so much more.

The weather was perfect, sunny, and not a raindrop. The stages were amply sized to host the biggest acts in the world, and the beachfront clubhouses were perfectly placed for intimate EDM performances. You could feel the excitement on day 1 for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to close out the night, but we’ll get to their legendary set soon.

Hangout Music Festival 2023 poster
Hangout Music Festival 2023 poster

Hangout Music Festival is a beacon to those in the south dreaming of a major city festival like Lollapalooza or Governor’s Ball.

Huge artists from across the world journey to the small Alabama town for one weekend every year, and trust me, people in the south showed up in style.

While the crowd was mostly younger, the beach was filled with such a diverse casting call of people, all eager to get the most out of the sun, sounds, and sights of a beach and booze filled paradise weekend.

Only a couple of hours in, and the vibes were already impeccable.

The lineup this year was remarkable for its inclusion of varying genres and artists from many walks of life.

You had your hip-hop and rap crowd coming through strong for Kevin Gates, SZA, Mike, Ferg, and more. The beachside House DJs truly brought the energy for the ravers with sets from Aluna, Two Feet, Gryffin, Elohim, and others.

Rock was showing out in style with varying representations. The oldies crowd (and literally everyone else) was loving the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ performance, and the up and coming indie rock scene was glowing with sets from Flipturn, The Backseat Lovers, and The 502’s.

The Backseat Lovers' Joshua Harmon at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
The Backseat Lovers’ Joshua Harmon at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

The festival was filled with amazing little side quests everywhere you turned, and while the lineup was the main attraction, they were all worth checking out.

The Coca-Cola activation and the M&M pop-up were my favorites, with free and unreleased samples for all. After snacking on some free samples, I went over to the Malibu beach house to refresh with a free (and Ice-cold) Malibu spritzer. The cheering at the beach-adjacent volleyball games were almost as loud as the stage over the horizon, so I went to go check it out.

I discovered an intimate beach DJ set from Ranger Trucco, with scores of people packed into the Monster Beach Club, all vibing along to an energetic pop-up performance from the EDM sensation.

Right across from the Tove Lo set (she absolutely killed it) we could hear swarms of people screaming for the rapper Mike, as he jumped into the crowd and shotgunned some beers with fans, in true festival fashion.

Tove Lo at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
Tove Lo at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

Tove Lo at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
Tove Lo at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

Now for some running.

I sprinted between three stages desperately trying to get a good twenty minutes at all three performances by Russ, Gryffin, and Thundercat.

It was worth it. The crowds were different for the three artists and their distinct genres, yet they were the same. Just happy people packed together in swimsuits and drinks all vibing along at different frequencies to the respective artist on stage.

Now, we MUST talk about the Lil Nas X set. What an entrance!

To ride onto the stage on a massive mechanical horse is bold, and Lil Nas X is an entertainer’s entertainer. There were so many different artist personalities present, that fans had so much variety to explore in the theatrical world that was built upon the lineup for this year’s Hangout Festival.

Fans were upset that Rainbow Kitten Surprise had to cancel their performance last minute, but the boys in Louis the Child absolutely stepped up to the plate. It just so happened, as they told the audience during their playground set, that they were in town for the festival as fans themselves. When they got the call to put on a show, they absolutely killed it.

Now… my favorite performance not only of the weekend, but arguably of all time. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are gods amongst men.

Never have I before seen such bravado and bold stage presence, crowd control, and sheer musical talent. No backing vocals, industry tricks or anything else. Just pure unadulterated talent and love for the game. It was, in one word, breathtaking.

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
Red Hot Chili Peppers at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

Flea at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
Flea at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

I started off my second day by jumping into the warm waters of the Gulf, surrounded by people ready to party the entire day. The excitement was growing as Day 1 set the tone of the weekend, and people were stoked to get right back into the feel-good atmosphere that casted over Hangout Festival.

Day 2 began with a beautiful sunny morning and a confidence filled set from rising indie band flipturn.

They are on the come up, I guarantee it. Atwood Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with them and chat after their amazing morning set on Saturday. They are humble and hungry: Ones to watch in the future for sure.

A quick lobster roll, and then this writer was off to the Hangout stage for COIN. I had the pleasure of sitting poolside in the VIP lounge, in the most chill setting imaginable to watch a fiery performance. Drinks were pouring, and vibes were at an all-time high. COIN put on a great set. When the crowd is singing back to the band with a fervor and passion filled exuberance, you know that the real fans made their way to town just for this moment. It was truly beautiful to watch.

COIN at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
COIN at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

With an hour to kill before AJR’s set, I managed to crash for a little in one of the many hammocks strategically placed all over the festival grounds.

I’m so glad I put an alarm on my phone, because ladies and gentlemen, AJR absolutely crushed their set.

It was my fourth time seeing them live, and they are amazing and meticulous every time. They clearly plan out every second of their set the way they interact with their audience. They are wizards on stage with how they’ve mastered the art of crowd control. Seemingly being able to transition from thousands of fans headbanging to a slow buildup back into a mosh pit.

A crowd pleaser every time. Seriously, go get a ticket to an AJR concert near you!

Right after their set, I managed to spot AJR in the crowd for Flume’s insane live showing. He was so good that several artists were happily singing along in the crowd to his colorful nighttime party. From my perspective, the crowd looked alive as one unit, moving in every direction as the beat dropped and the lights dictated the next coordinated step. It was crafty, electric, and full of energy.

A perfect segway to queen SZA.

What can I say about her set? It was everything you wanted it to be from a woman with the confidence of an army ready to command the stage and the attention of the entire town of Gulf Shores. She was passionate, ecstatic, but also humble and affectionate with her adorning fans.

An amazing way to close out Day 2.

SZA at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
SZA at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

SZA at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage
SZA at Hangout Music Fest 2023 © Alive Coverage

Sunday, traditionally a day of rest, was anything but. Arguably the most stacked lineup of the weekend, the energy and excitement were peaking on Sunday morning.

I went to see the 502’s, straight into Hippie Sabotage, and followed by Jessie Murph. Can’t complain with that start to the day at all.

The artist I was most excited for was Noah Kahan. Playing in front of thousands of fans, the genuine feeling of vulnerability and soulful expression was the main focal point of the set.

Kahan was heartfelt about what this set meant to him, his first in a while. He introduced himself as the “Jewish Lewis Capaldi” and kicked off a heartwarming rendition of his latest album, Stick Season. The set was like therapy for not only him, but the scores of fans battling with their own internal strife’s. There were tears, laughs, and most importantly, so much love from the audience. It was truly reciprocated between fan and artist, a wonderful human experience all around.



Immediately following Kahan’s set (woah, just got chills thinking about it again) was a stellar live performance from The Backseat Lovers. The crowd was ecstatic for the live rendition of their hit song, Kilby Girl. They were loud and just straight up having fun on stage, and that translated into an amazing live show.

Closing off the weekend with a bang is an understatement. Experiencing Skrillex back-to-back with Calvin Harris was like summiting a mountain and reaching the peak just as the wind broke and the sun shined its warm embrace. It was just perfect.

Hangout Music Festival is (and was) an experience to remember and cherish.

It was loud when you needed to block out the mundane in the world, and peaceful when you needed to embrace the simplicity and beauty of life.

If you missed Hangout Fest 2023, believe me, start planning for next year.

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