Hangout Music Festival 2013: Best Of The Big Festivals ... On The Beach

We're heading down to this year's Hangout, and here's why you should too.

Gulf Shores, Alabama, seems like an odd place to have a music festival, but then again, there was probably a time when folks scoffed at the idea of doing one in Manchester, Tennessee, too ... and look how that turned out.

I'm not about to compare Alabama's Hangout Fest to Tennessee's venerable Bonnaroo just yet ... but it's not exactly a stretch to see the similarities between the two. And I'm not just talking about their Southern locales, either. No, it starts with the notion that the organizers behind both fests are kindred spirits, in the way they book bands — fun fact, Trey Anastasio has performed at 50 percent of the Hangouts! — and the way they run their respective events.

Like Bonnaroo, Hangout is fun and loose; it may not have the famously dusty (and fabulously communal) campgrounds, but it makes up for that in metric tons of white sand, beautiful Gulf breezes, and warm sun. Not to mention boardwalk bars, waterslides and more peel-and-eat shrimp than you can possibly fathom. It remains the only festival where going barefoot is not only possible, but practically encouraged. It's relaxed in all the right ways, a party in every possible sense of the term. Yes, Hangout is rather aptly named.

Then again, the main attraction is the music and, as I witnessed firsthand last year, Hangout doesn't disappoint in that regard, either. I caught solid sets from Jack White, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dave Matthews Band, not to mention folks like Skrillex and the Flaming Lips, too, and marveled at just how so many kids could still have this much energy after a day spent baking on the beach. And while all of this was whirling around me, I still managed to sit on the beach, pound peel-and-eats, and get sunburned. Basically, I had a blast, though even without the amenities, it's difficult to find fault in three days spent on a beach.

So when I learned that MTV would be heading back to the Hangout Festival this year, I was pretty pumped. The lineup may be a little different, but the spirit of the fest remains unchanged and I can't wait to cover it this year, to show my VH1 and CMT cohorts the ropes. The goal is to bring all the best of the fest to you guys, through livestreaming performances, interviews with all the bands, and backstage access — all of which you can watch starting Friday (May 17) through our Hangout site — not to mention on air across our myriad of channels: highlights will be broadcast on MTV, VH1, CMT, MTV2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, VH1 Classic and Palladia.

Hopefully, you'll watch, get inspired to come down to Hangout next year and witness it all for yourself. It may not be on the level of Bonnaroo yet, but trust me, you'll see the similarities between the two, and, chances are, if you love the 'Roo, you'll find a second home at the Hangout. Just take it from me, you're gonna want to bring sunscreen: that Gulf Coast sun can get pretty bright during your fifth set of the day, or your fifth plate of seafood.