New York Comes South
On Sunday, Hangout Fest brought New York to the South. The last day of Hangout featured a trio of New York based bands that all came south to wail. There was no hesitation or uncertainly in these acts. For a festival that saw Zac Brown Band headlining Saturday night, these acts declared that Hangout was in fact for all. We began the day with the Brooklyn based Rubblebucket. If you were fortunate enough to see their colleagues Moon Hooch at Hogs for the Cause a few week ago, add the Hooch horns to a powerful female vocal and fantastic pop hooks and your have Rubblebucket. The noon sun was pretty intense, but Kalmia Traver’s wild dancing and the frank playfulness of Alex Toth’s grand horn-line style moves kick-started the party. The way the band choreographs parodic versions of old, grand big band and R&B postures is perfect. These grand moments combined with their low-fi aesthetic to deconstruct what music has become and to highlight the anxiety of influence in contemporary music. Kalmia ended the show by declaring a march to the Gulf, which became an impromptu dance party in the field between the stage and sound booth – a truly perfect start to the day.
Later that afternoon the relative veterans and fellow Brooklyn residents TV on the Radio played on the Surf Stage. This was easily the hardest rock set of the weekend. TVOTR brought the punk without compromise. Drummer Jaleel Bunton came on stage wearing a Black Flag shirt—this was the sentiment of the performance. Once the beat picked up, there was no going back. Tunde Adebimpe laid down some initial loops after greeting the audience and commenting on the heat, from there it was all power.
In the final act before Beck’s headlining set, Phantogram took to the Palladia Stage for the crowd that had decided to forgo My Morning Jacket. Their set truly showcased the full nature of their range. Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel took the stage as the sun was setting. About twenty minutes into their set, the natural light vanished and their visual pyrotechnics took over. As a preamble to Beck, this was just right. The driving beats and cooling air gave the crowd the boost necessary to fight through the sunburn to the final show. For their part, the duo have not sounded better. Both vocalists were in great form and their singing was accentuated by the crisp night air.
If Saturday at Hangout was for the indie sound, Sunday at Hangout was for New York. Taken together these bands brought a diverse and completely uncompromising slice of that scene to Alabama. The festival lineup this year was quite deep, quite varied. I’ll be doing an in depth look in my column on Thursday with a ton of images so keep an eye out.