Back to the beach: Hangout Fest returns this weekend

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Group: Hangout Fest 2022
Date: May 20-22
Location: The Hangout, 101 E. Beach Blvd. (Gulf Shores), hangoutmusicfest.com
Tickets: $359, available on the festival website

The return of Hangout Fest is one of many signs that the summer festival season is back. Two years have passed since Hangout filled Gulf Shores with a colorful legion of festival-goers eager to taste new sound waves in the sand. The revival of Hangout Fest will feature a long and versatile list of headliners, including Leon Bridges, Doja Cat, Halsey, Maren Morris, Post Malone, Fall Out Boy, Tame Impala and many more. Before the masses head back to the beach, Hangout Fest producer Reeves Price (Winter Circle Productions) gave Lagniappe’s Steve Centanni a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to bring Hangout Fest back to Gulf Shores.

Steve Centani: After the events of the past few years, how does it feel to bring this festival back to life?

Reeves Price: I mean, there have been challenges in our industry and the event industry and the production industry that have been affected by COVID. Fortunately, the main members of the team return. Many of our sellers return. We’re just excited to see everyone back on the beach and get the train back on track, so it feels good.

Centanni: What have been some of the main challenges?

Price: There are some things that are harder to find. For some reason, golf carts are harder to come by post-COVID. Things are also more expensive, so we are working on that. It was hard. We didn’t know what the protocols would be, because things have changed. We’ve all heard that this is a “fluid situation” throughout COVID. Right now, it looks like things are pretty much back to normal, as far as the customer experience and what the show will look like. It’s good to see, and I think that’s what people can expect. It’s going to look like Hangout Fest.

Centanni: As for the changes to the Hangout Fest layout and stages, what can attendees expect?

Price: We have improved and changed the Boom stage and room area. Thus, it will have a greater production. People will notice some changes there. We still have the two scenes on the beach and the beach party along the shore. It’s the same footprint as Hangout for the past two years, but we’re updating everything. We’ll have some art and experience stuff and cool sponsors coming out for the show, but I think the Boom [Stage] upgrade will definitely be noticed.

Centanni: Can you give us a hint on some of the surprises you have in store for the weekend?

Price: Well, if I spill the beans, then that wouldn’t be a surprise. We just upgrade and update and bring new fun stuff. People will just have to come and check. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Centanni: What are you looking forward to seeing in Hangout Fest 2022?

Price: Can’t wait to see everyone back on the beach and be back at the Hangout. Hangout’s VIP program is great with beachside pools, cabanas, and hot tubs. I’m glad to see this coming back to life. I’m excited to see people singing with Post Malone and Tame Impala and Kane Brown and some of the other bands we have this year.

Centanni: Who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Price: Can’t wait to see Kane Brown on the show. It had been a long time since there had been country music at the festival. I can’t wait to see it and see how the crowd reacts to it. I can’t wait to see Post Malone’s performance. He has a new album coming, so we might have new material. I’m looking forward to Leon Bridges, that’s for sure. I think he will have a lot of fun at the festival. Illenium is definitely someone. Jack Harlow is someone who I think is going to have a huge set. He just released a record, and he’s the sexiest guy right now. I’m excited for Paul Cauthen. These are the ones at the top of my list. There are a lot of good things. I think it’s a pretty good composition. I think there’s something for everyone, and it’s well balanced and should be exciting for people.

Centanni: What will be the logistics of parking and traffic?

Price: If you’re coming from out of town, the shuttle bus program is the best and easiest way to get to and from the festival site, whether you’re on the island or staying nearby. You can check the Hangout Fest website for that. There aren’t a lot of parking spaces around the site, so I encourage people to use the shuttle program. We still have tickets available, so I encourage people to get their tickets before arriving. For people coming from out of town who haven’t made their plans yet, there are accommodations available in the area. So people who make the last minute decision to leave should. Bring your sunscreen, bring your flip flops, and bring a hat. It should be a great weekend.

Centanni: Do you have any advice for newcomers to Hangout?

Price: It’s a long day in the sun. We have free water stations and everything like that. So relax. There is also a re-entry into the show, so people can return to the condo or hotel and take a break if they wish. Be prepared to decide if you want to be a sand person or a walk person. When I went to Hangout as a participant, my shoe choice was always the biggest decision to make. I would say go with the seesaw. Then you can do both. Take them off and stick them in your belt or somewhere else. It’s the most versatile thing. I say shoes are essential for Hangout.

Centanni: I definitely agree. Is there anything else you would like to say to the participants before they arrive?

Price: We’re just glad to have them back. We feel good about how everything is falling into place. We are already settling in. They had a big volleyball tournament in Gulf Shores last weekend, so we’re moving and rolling now. We are in two weeks. As I said, there are still tickets available. We’re sold out for the VIP, but there are still regular tickets available. There are still a few hotel rooms in the area, so make your plans. Be sure to get your shuttle pass to get around the area and to the show.

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