Thursday’s kick off party at The Hangout Fest presented a stacked lineup that arguably rivals the coveted Friday and Saturday timeslots. Conspirator, Lotus, Dillion Francis, Railroad Earth, Benny Benassi, and Umphrey’s McGee topped the list of performers that attracted a notable crowd to the first night of the festival.
Conspirator’s set featured prominent favorites from their Unleashed album. The highly produced tracks translated well to a live setting, foregoing the electronic texture in lieu of improvisation. Hangout attendees were not denied the band’s famous cover of “Brink In The Wall”, nor were they shorted on previews of new songs. Conspirator shouted props to their “very good friends” Lotus and encouraged everyone to stick around for their subsequent set in the Boom Boom tent.
Lotus was the perfect bridge between Conspirator and Railroad Earth, playing groovy electronica that dropped into funk when least expected and even occasionally ventured into experimental alternative rock. Railroad Earth’s jamgrass set offered the chance to relax and reenergize for Umphrey’s while others persisted to rage at The Boom Boom tent with Dillon Francis. It was a classic case of EDM vs. Jam for the headlining 9:45-11:00 p.m. timeslot as Benny Benassi played opposite festival kings Umphrey’s McGee.
Someone in the audience anxiously shouted, “Play the Daft Punk song!” as the lights fell and Umphrey’s took stage- requesting to hear the cover of “Get Lucky” Umphrey’s debuted at Stubbs on 4/20- but the band never obliged. Guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss encouraged fans to applaud bassist Ryan Stasik for his flashy orange, black, and blue plaid polyester pants early on in the set. Bayliss continued to disclose that the band had spent the past four days in the studio (!) and that it felt good to be playing outside. The set was a mix of old and new, pleasing fans to the fullest in the short 75 minutes they had to perform. They concluded promptly at 11 and were not permitted to return to the stage for an encore. Kudos to The Hangout for strict adherence to the schedule, but the non-negotiable closing time can definitely be a bummer.
The evening air at Hangout was warm, but not hot; chill but not chilly. The Letting Go Stage acted as the night’s headlining venue for Railroad Earth and Umphrey’s McGee, keeping kickoff party attendees confined to grass, concrete, and pavement for the night.
Tonight, The Hangout Stage will open its gates and welcome patrons to kick off their sandals and dance barefoot in the sand as they watch Kings of Leon, Passion Pit, and Jim James from the beach. Other buzzed about sets on today’s schedule suggest an even split between The Shins and Big Gigantic, leaving an opportunity for an intimate set with Anders Osborne in the 7:30-8:30 hour.
Stay tuned for more live Hangout coverage tomorrow!
Photos by Brendon Riha, RS Digital Productions