Hangout Festival 2023 swept through Gulf Shores, Alabama from May 19 through the 21. This festival on the beach brought together different artists and fans alike, while being spread across four stages throughout the weekend. There was always something for everyone to enjoy.
I was able to catch sets from Meet Me @ The Altar, Stephen Sanchez, Tove Lo, Jordana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flipturn, Highly Suspect, Daniel Nunnelee, COIN, AJR, Sabrina Carpenter, Paramore, SZA, Beach Weather, Yung Gravy, Noah Kahan, Mayday Parade, Kid Laroi, and Calvin Harris.
Leading up to the festival, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Except for it to be hot. And it was. I was impressed by how well it went and it seemed to get better each day. I picked up my media pass on Thursday in preparation for Day 1 on Friday. I was in and out in minutes couldn’t wait for the weekend ahead of me. There were several options when parking for the festival. I opted to park in a free section for the first two days and on the third I paid to park closer after all the walking I had done. Many of the houses around the festival offer up their driveways and parking lots for a fee as well.
Meet Me @ The Altar was the fist set I saw on Friday, and it definitely started the day off strong. The energy was high and had me excited for the day ahead. Stephen Sanchez wowed the crowd with his performance of “Georgia” and Tove Lo flashed the crowd while “Talking Body.” Jordana was a nice change of pace and my first time swinging by the Mermaid Stage. The Red Hot Chili Peppers closed out the night as the headliner.
I’m always happy to see Flipturn and I was even happier to get to to see them in front of such a huge crowd on day two of the festival. Next was Highly Suspect who I was just introduced to at the festival and I was pleasantly surprised. I ran to catch Daniel Nunnelee before running back to catch COIN- both being some of my favorite artists. AJR had the beach moving with their incredible performance. And most notably, they took the time to call out and acknowledge fans, even recognizing a fan that has been in the front row for them in many states throughout the years. I couldn’t wait to see Sabrina Carpenter again. The last time I saw her perform was 5 years ago. It was amazing to see her growth. As a reference to the festival being on the beach, she announced to the crowd “I didn’t know you would all be naked.” Paramore and SZA were the last two sets of the night and were especially fun and drew huge crowds to each.
It’s always exciting when I go to see an artist that I’m only familiar with a couple songs from. I knew Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” from TikTok and will definitely be listening to the rest of their discography. I stopped and got to Smooch-A-Pooch in between sets and was very tempted to adopt a dog and bring it home with me. I then made it to catch Yung Gravy. His fans were nonstop energy and you could feel their excitement throughout the whole performance.
Noah Kahan was the artist I was most excited to see and he did not disappoint. He garnered a crowd ready to shout “Stick Season” and even an unreleased track “Dial Drunk” ahead of his upcoming Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever) deluxe album. Noah thanked his fans for coming, even the ones who made it out to the beach even if they do not enjoy it. Mayday Parade kept me on my toes as they made it across the stage and jumped through the air. On the way back to the media lounge, I grabbed some pizza as one of the many food options available for the weekend. After taking a break and chatting with some other photographers, I headed to the next set: Kid Laroi. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed The Kid Laroi’s performance. It was filled with fun and I was excited to hear “Stay” (during which I bumped into Noah Kahan in the crowd and got to compliment him on his performance).
The festival ended with a set from Calvin Harris. It was a party. The pyro, lights, and energy from the fans were enough to make me want to stay and do it all over again. I can’t wait until Hangout Festival next year when I hopefully get to come back.