When “home” at a festival means having a beach house with a bed, a shower, and a pool it’s a lot harder to rise and kick off the day each morning. Tempted by the lure of sunbathing and day drinking, I found the discipline to get over to The Hangout on Friday in time to see The Sheepdogs’ early afternoon set. The band was featured on the August 2011 cover of Rolling Stone- the first unsigned act ever to do so- for winning the “Choose The Cover” competition. They’ve since come out with a 17-track album and have been touring heavily in support of the work. Their sound was reminiscent of The Black Keys’ dirty swamp rock, but customized with a special southern twang and soul.
Jim James took the sandy Hangout Stage Stage looking as dapper as he does on the cover of his 2013 solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God. Looking onto the modest crowd that had assembled for his 3:45 set, James’ long curly hair blew carelessly as the afternoon sea breeze swirled around him. Sticking to new material from his latest release, James opened with “State of the Art – A.E.I.O.U.” He darted back and forth across the stage and gestured as if he was tossing vowels into the audience as he sang each letter of the song. James’ magnificent voice characterized the set as mystic and enchanting, albeit less active and involved than a typical My Morning Jacket show. James’ guitar rested on a stand which he returned to play sporadically, though he mostly just sang and danced on stage with a curious, childlike innocence.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis started their set 10 minutes late, but it didn’t matter to trap-loving crowd waiting to pop tags with him inside of The Boom Boom tent. When they finally started, the audience found the beat and went straight to work busting out their sexiest dance moves.
“This is the first day of the festival. Day one is upon us,” Macklemore announced after the opening track concluded.
“How many white people are already sunburnt?” he asked and, after waiting a few moments concluded, “That’s 100% of the white people.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ensured their performance was engaging by incorporating more into their show than just rapping over beats- namely through utilization of a trumpet-playing hype man who followed Macklemore around the stage. Just a few songs into his set, Macklemore started an interactive speech that lasted several minutes that would eventually become the lead in to “Thrift Shop”.
“I always like to see what people are wearing at the festival. The people at The Hangout Fest have the best style,” he said, stroking the egos of hundreds of barely-clothed festival-goers. He added, “But I can’t believe no one wore a fur jacket!”
One fur jacket eventually appeared above the crowd on the far left side of the stage. Macklemore asked its owner to crowd surf the jacket to the front. “Not the girlfriend wearing it, just the jacket,” he instructed as the coat made its way to the stage.
Macklemore expressed eagerness to try on the coat, which he called “an Alabama cheetah”. Pulling a fast one over the crowd, he thanked them for their time and falsely concluded his set as soon as the fur coat was in his possession. The audience booed as he walked off stage before the all-too-familiar “Thrift Shop” intro music began. He stormed back on stage and the audience erupted in cheers.
It was surprising to see Macklemore and Ryan Lewis bust out their biggest hit so early in the set; I’m not sure how many people actually stuck around for the remainder of the performance, as I was one of the many who cleared out after getting my fix of guilty pleasure. Most people headed to The Hangout Stage to catch the second half of Passion Pit; I opted for a resting period in the shade with a Cajun shrimp po’boy sandwich.
As alluded to in yesterday’s recap, I choose to attend an intimate set with Anders Osborne in the 7:30-8:30 hour while the rest of the festival split in half for The Shins and Big Gigantic and couldn’t have been happier that I did. Dressed in a green Gov’t Mule t-shirt and sandals with a ragged Jamaica ball camp that allowed his wild, curly hair to peak out the bottom, Osborne looked like just another guy on stage until he strapped on his guitar and went to work. His arms were lined with slate-grey, aged tattoos that reminded me of my dad, while his accompanying bass player’s casual attire and middle-of-back long hair reminded me of one of my dad’s friends. The pair were joined a drummer and made for, as one of my crowd neighbors observed, “one hell of a power trio”. Osborne played with heart and compassion- sometimes marching in place and vigorously shaking his head, other times so overtaken by the music that he bent over in convulsions as he strummed his guitar. With most songs exceeding 10 or 12 minutes, the small, cozy full blown jam fest was unquestionably better than whatever was happening elsewhere at the festival.
I eventually headed over to The Letting Go Stage to catch the final minutes of Big Gigantic’s set. Unfortunately, I found myself mocking the band’s front man Dominic Lalli for saying dumb brotastic things like “Let’s fuckin’ rock this shit” and describing his music as “brand new ass shit”. When they were done, I left before even allowing myself the opportunity to make fun of the night’s headliners, Kings of Leon.
Today I’m talking to Bright Light Social Hour and anticipating their set to be the most under-hyped of the day, possibly weekend. I’m also looking forward to a chill headlining set with Tom Petty- undoubtedly the perfect come down from the 7:30 ragefest with Beachnectar. Stay tuned for more coverage tomorrow!