Day three of any festival is bound to feel a little woozy. No one has gotten any sleep, the Port-A-Pottys smell worse than ever, and at Hangout Festival in particular, walking in the sand becomes less dreamy and more a game of not getting cigarette butts stuck in between your toes. Luckily, day three happened to have an abundance of artists I adore, so the day passed quickly, and before I knew it, the last sunset over the Gulf of Mexico had passed and we were waving goodbye to an unforgettable weekend. Check out the best of Sunday, unranked and in chronological order.
Run The Jewels’ Trump Bashing
I’ve seen more Trump paraphernalia here in Gulf Shores than that of any other candidate, but that didn’t stop (and maybe encouraged) rap duo Run The Jewels from slinging tongue-in-cheek political commentary in between their politically charged songs. Atlanta native and noted Bernie Sanders supporter Killer Mike expressed relief upon playing in his homeland, the southern US — where “the grits taste like grits” — and recognized the dichotomy of being an outspoken emblem of leftist politics in rap while also hailing from the South. “We would love if the Donald got elected. We’d have so much material. Who said the South doesn’t have progressives?” Mike said before dedicating Run The Jewels 2 track “Lie, Cheat, Steal” to Trump himself. Together, Mike and Brooklyn’s El-P have an unmatched liveliness, proving that rap can easily fall under the “punk” umbrella.
Grimes “Going Hard”
While waiting for the Hangout-loving Grimes to take the stage, I overheard a guy next to me describe Claire Boucher to his friend. “She’s like girly, summery pop, but she’s got a couple that go hard.” As if the two things are mutually exclusive? And what constitutes “girly” music other than it’s by a woman? This sentiment reminded me of a lyric off Art Angels song “California” — which, sadly, she didn’t perform — “The things they see in me I cannot see myself/ When you get bored of me, I’ll be back on the shelf.” This dude’s remarks reminded me of every person who was turned off by Art Angels and misses the “old Grimes,” shaming Boucher for taking a deeper dive into experimental pop music and absolutely crushing it. For the record, Boucher played predominantly Art Angels tracks yesterday, and she’s a girl, and it was summery, and it was pop music, and she went hard every time.
Haim Covering Prince
Last week, ’70s-inspired sister pop trio Haim debuted a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” at a show in Santa Ana, California. Continuing the chain of Prince tributes that Lizzo set forward Saturday, Haim revisited the “I Would Die 4 U” cover on the giant Hangout Surf Stage, Californians bringing along some Minnesota for their first visit to Alabama. Eldest sister Este Haim described Prince as her “everything.” She and sisters Danielle and Alana layered both voices and guitars in harmony for the legendary dance track, creating a full, grandiose sound that Prince would likely stamp with approval.
Courtney Barnett’s Hustle
In less than 24 hours, indie rock’s favorite Aussie Courtney Barnett went from performing on Saturday Night Live’s season finale in New York to playing an hour-long set at Hangout Festival here in Alabama. I’m sure maneuvers like this are all in a day’s work for rising stars like Barnett, but it still amazed me to see her give every last drop of energy even when running on empty. She humored the Hangout audience by asking if we’d been at the festival all weekend, and replied, “You must be tired,” upon confirmation. Us tired? What about you?!
Florence And The Machine’s Commanding Presence
When Florence Welch tells you to do something, you do it. During last night’s festival-closing headline set, Welch became her own hypewoman, asking the sea of people to “get high” with her during “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” with the classic shoulder-sitting festival staple. Never have I seen so many people sitting atop others. For ever-popular single “Shake It Out,” Welch transformed into a choir director. She said she normally performs with a choir, but couldn’t transport them from England. “I wrote this song when I was scared and hungover. I felt like I needed a choir of angels to absorb me.” And so the Hangout audience became Welch’s crowd of angels. Throughout her hour-plus set, she cast a spell over the sore festival bodies, and everyone escaped along with her to a magic fairytale narrated by her thunderous voice. Though Welch has three solid records to her name, she performed as though she needed to prove her ability to every witness: dramatically running and leaping across the stage, barefoot and twirling in a long, flowing blue dress, like a child playing dress-up on a pretend stage.