Hangout Music Festival, Day 1: 05.20.2011
The day wasn’t without its hiccups (just ask any of the hundreds of general admission ticketholders who stood in a line half a mile long just to get in the gate), but all told, the first day of the second annual Hangout Fest played out pretty well. Thanks to both Karl Denson and the Easy Star All Stars, I somehow managed to hear more flute solos in half an hour than I have in probably my entire life – and I once played the flute. I also somewhat painfully endured a slightly dubby version of a Radiohead song (though one of Barryfest’s own did point out that if Radiohead hasn’t lodged a complaint yet, who am I to judge?).
New Orleans’ own Honey Island Swamp Band drew a sizeable crowd at the intimate stage they graced, delivering a robust and rich performance with plenty of charmingly grimy Crescent City flair. Grace Potter channeled Tina Turner with both her smokin’ hot legs and her muscular vocals (she had the stones to cover Heart’s “Crazy on You,” which is, as everyone knows, a litmus test for rocker chick vocals). But I’ll let Matt tell you all about Grace, since he has now seen the glorious light.
My Morning Jacket provided a badass set, as expected, folding in a few tracks from their upcoming release Circuital. Otherwise it was a well-layered progression including some essential oldies from It Still Moves and Z (“Gideon,” “Wordless Chorus” and “One Big Holiday” were highlights) and a hefty dose of tracks from Evil Urges, the least critically celebrated of their releases, but apparently the most popular amongst the hippie hordes (“Highly Suspicious” elicited some serious crunchy dancing).
The revelation of the day—for me at least—was Beats Antique. A dash of electronica with a touch of klezmer; throw in some belly dancing, trippy visuals and animal masks and you’re set. My astute boyfriend summed it up like so: “This band fills the Gogol Bordello-shaped hole in my heart that needs a hot Eastern European chick banging on a bass drum.” I couldn’t agree more. Their aesthetic is a killer blend of ambient electronica crashing into traditional folk instrumentation. It’s less fun and silly than Gogol can sometimes be, but that driving, underlying rhythm is there. That deep groove that hits you at your core and almost forces you to move.
That was about it for my day (except the amazeballs corn fritters I just had at Mikee’s Seafood and the pretty decent fireworks display that just ended the Widespread Panic show – yes, I can see the stages from my sweet balcony). Check back tomorrow night for more from the Scooby gang, including Cee Lo Green, Primus and the inevitable return of the Lord Jesus Christ during The Flaming Lips’ set. Until then.
- Erin Hall, Antigravity Magazine
Tonight My Morning Jacket found themselves in a somewhat ambassadorial position – one that has fittingly become their calling card. As the Louisville, Kentucky band took the stage at the second annual Hangout Music Festival, singer Jim James looked out at the utterly massive audience covering the entire beach of the Gulf Coast shore and nostalgically remarked, “Well this is a fucked up situation. I grew up coming here with my family on vacations. Never in my wildest dreams, when I used to walk this beach alone, did I ever think I’d be part of something so amazing.” With that, My Morning Jacket – as one of the unofficial spokesbands of the festival (the other being psuedo-home state heroes the Drive-By Truckers) – made three things apparent: first, that James and co. could not have been more humbled and excited to play on a stage as unique as one overlooking an Alabama beach; second, that they haven’t lost as much as a step since their studio hibernation in November of last year; and third, that when it comes to the title of “Kings of Vocal Reverb”, no one on earth can touch them.
- Taylor Gray, Barryfest.com
I saw Grace Potter and the Nocturnals two years ago at the inaugural – and, so far, only – edition of Project 30-90, and don’t get me wrong: I thought she was great. Performing for a disappointingly small crowd in an unconventional concert venue, she killed, both with a her knock-out pipes as well as a mastery of quite possibly the greatest musical instrument ever created, the Hammond B3.
At that very moment, Grace Potter’s star was certainly on the rise, and she definitely came correct with a rabid brand of R&B twinged Americana roots rock. But nothing could have prepared me for her set on the opening day of the 2011 Hangout Music Festival. Smack dab in the middle of an other-worldly beautiful day at the beach, Grace Potter stormed the stage like a woman on fire. In one of the most sexually charged performances I’ve seen since I caught Prince at the Target Center on his one night in America before a 28 night stand at the O2 Arena in London in Summer of 2007, Grace Potter bounded around the stage as she exerted her dominance over a littany of musical instruments and the variety of influences that inform the Nocturnals unique sound.
It was nothing less than a tour de force, the exact type of eye-opening experience surprise you dream of stumbling upon when attending a fantastically programmed weekend music festival.
-Matt Rosenthal, Barryfest.com