Hangout Fest 2017 Delivers Despite Artist Cancellations and Harsh Weather

As tricky as it is to organize a music festival (as shown clearly by Ja Rule’s own FYRE Festival disaster in the Bahamas recently), Sean O’Connell, the head of operations for Hangout Music Fest 2017 managed to pull off another noteworthy event despite unforeseen artist cancellations and heavy rains. By all accounts, these issues were managed with all the professionalism one should expect when paying triple figures for an event such as this.

Thursday’s “pre-party” kicked off with an undoubtedly smaller crowd than what was to come, though the smaller stages that were open (the two main stages didn’t open until Friday) were raucous enough to deem them a success. Those who arrived early witnessed sets from “Doses and Mimosas” purveyors Cherub, as well as The Fresh Prince’s own DJ Jazzy Jeff. Neighboring Georgians and trap stars Migos played a hype set featuring their smash hit “Bad and Boujee” to close out Thursday in the aptly named Boom Boom Tent.

Friday, the official day one, saw a solid mix of rock starring Mac DeMarco, Phoenix, MGMT and Weezer, each bringing their own versions of sunshine-worthy sounds. Temperatures were as high as the vibe with elated fans running towards DeMarco’s early evening set. His hit “Salad Days” led the way, creating an utterly perfect seaside atmosphere. Songs from his recently released full-length “Dog Days” made appearances as well including “For the First Time.” MGMT followed on the main stage as the sun set over the Gulf. Tunes from 2007’s “Oracular Spectacular” were, of course, played, including “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” “Kids,” and “The Youth.” Amongst these was an improvised song by lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden about a man riding a whale. This after the stage crew released numerous inflatable blue whales into the crowd, prompting one fan to literally ride one atop the dancing audience. As day turned to night, Weezer took to the stage on the opposite side of the beach playing crowd favorites such as “Hash Pipe” and “Buddy Holly.” Phoenix closed the evening with an hour-and-a-half set highlighting picks from their acclaimed “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” album such as “Lasso” and Lisztomania,” and tossing in their latest single release “Ti Amo.” If you were to look at Hangout’s lineup poster, you might notice Phoenix’s name appears nowhere. Their addition to the schedule was last minute due to top headliner Frank Ocean’s cancellation.

Unfortunately, Hangout has developed a history of artist cancelations, though luckily for the organizers, the issues always seem to be unrelated to the festival itself. Last year, renowned DJ Calvin Harris had to cancel due to a serious car accident he was involved in the night before his set. This year, Frank Ocean canceled citing “production issues beyond his control.” Ocean withdrew his headlining set from Sasquatch the previous week for a similar reason.

Saturday brought a respite from the overbearing sun in the form of torrential downpours. The day started off, however, with mere overcast, a welcomed change from the previous day’s high heat. Fans indulged in indie sets from MuteMath and Local Natives while renowned DJ Rüfus Dü Sol and rising production stars Snakehips and Louis the Child showed off their electronic chops. A crowd-surfing Tory Lanez and low-key rockers Band of Horses also snuck in sets before the weather struck. By the time Major Lazer took the stage at a quarter ‘til eight, sideways sheets of rain had arrived. Undeterred crowds continued to dance as the dancehall-inspired DJ’s ripped through their upbeat catalogue. Twenty One Pilots’ headlining set was moved up thirty-minutes in the hopes to avoiding the impending weather. Mother Nature won out though, as festival organizers were forced to call it an early night for safety reasons.

The final day of this year’s Hangout started off with more rain, though subtle this time around. The big news of the day came when word spread about DJ Snake opting out of his afternoon set for mysterious reasons. The thirty-year-old French producer provided no cause for his absence, then proceeded to delete all his social media accounts following the festival’s announcement of his last-minute cancellation. The vacancy left by DJ Snake gave up-and-coming rapper Lil Yachty a longer set, to the delight of his fans. Chance the Rapper played the Surf Stage, gracing the crowd with tracks from latest drop “Coloring Book.” Warpaint, an all-girl band repping Los Angeles, came to play tracks from last year’s popular indie record “Heads Up.”

Two heavy-hitters from two separate worlds closed Hangout 2017. Mumford & Sons took over the main stage with live renditions of their most popular radio hits, all the while organizers keeping a close eye on a possible storm front nearby. On the other side of the beach, EDM’s biggest name at the moment, Marshmello, dazzled fans with his happy-go-lucky dance tunes. Alas, the weather held off and the last two acts finished their sets unimpeded. Cue fireworks and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Hangout Music Fest 2017 overcame technical glitches for a superb festival May 19-21.