Review: Hangout Festival, Day One

Following ESA I wandered towards the main stage for some Umphrey’s McGee. Umphrey’s drew a huge crowd in the midday sun. Fans of all ages boogied in the sand to improvisational instrumental medleys, including a metal break down accessorized with rapid arm thrusts and head banging. As Umphrey’s grew increasingly jammy, I began to wander the festival in anticipation of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Umphrey’s regained my attention when I heard the band cover Girlfriend Is Better by the Talking Heads, which I gleefully danced to while in line for water.

Seductive Grace Potter and the Nocturnals hit the Surf Style Stage in the blazing afternoon sun. Between her short sequined skirt, soul-rock vocals and wind blown hair, Potter had Tina Turner written all over her. This was my third time catching GP&tN this year, and I have to say the Hangout Festival was the band’s strongest performance yet.

GP&tN’s sound traveled through stages of rock and roll; they started out straight rock only to get hot and heavy, and switch to soul. From there the band grooved towards gospel roots, and then followed the ocean in psychedelic disarray. If that was not enough GP&tN organically flowed towards dark and sultry electric blues rock, and rounded out the experience with the heavy progressive rock number Sugar.

Throughout the performance guitarists Benny Yurco and Scott Tournet delivered ample reverb, framing every shriek Potter unleashed into the microphone. GP&tN got down and dirty pre Paris, (Potter’s self-proclaimed naughty song), and requested fans throw underwear on stage. “We need panties on stage!” Potter announced. “We’ll accept leather or lace! We’ll be accepting panties all night long!” GP&tN followed Paris with another sexed-up progressive rock groove, Medicine. The band closed their set with a fitting cover of Heart’s Crazy on You, the perfect ending for a truly dynamic set.

My adventurous first day culminated with a truly romantic performance by Louisville’s My Morning Jacket. By far the most enchanting experience of day one was MMJ’s Friday night performance. The quintet hit the stage in the sunshine and played into the sunset, casting a spell of psychedelic roots rock over the Gulf Coast. The band performed hits spanning their six studio albums, including selections off their latest release Circuital, which drops next week. Each song was loaded with powerful, thunderous drumming by Patrick Hallahan, fanciful slide guitar by Carl Broemel and animated guitar artistry by front man Jim James.

Each member frequented Hallahan’s drumming post, and congregated around him meshing powerhouse rhythms with surreal melodies. From a photography perspective, everything about the set was perfect; the lighting was flawless, the sun was gradually setting and the band animatedly moved around the stage.

While watching their set I was literally speechless and thoughtless; I remember turning to the photographer next to me, as both of us simultaneously said “Wow!” The only notes I took during their performance were: “Holy Shit!” “Wow!” and “This is what live music is about, the shiver.”

Here’s a gallery of Allison’s photos…

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