Gulf Shores, Alabama -- Break out your summer concert gear and flower crowns, because Hangout Festival is here. The can't-miss lineup includes fan favorites like Tove Lo, MisterWives, Vance Joy and wayyy more.
The festival runs through Sunday (May 17), and performances kick off every day starting at 11 a.m. The site at Gulf Shores, Alabama has a whopping seven stages on the beach. Sounds awesome, right? It is, but there's one huge #firstworldproblem at Hangout Fest -- there's too much to see and too little time to do it all.
Unless you can clone yourself, it's sadly physically impossible to catch every band or musician's set. We understand the struggle. When Lupe Fiasco finishes up his performance, we're stressing about making it to a totally different stage for Paramore's set immediately after, too.
Fear not! With some careful strategizing, you can see all the bands you want to at Hangout Fest. Consider these suggestions:
Plan a customized lineup
The Hangout Fest website has a full schedule of performances here, and you can also make a customized version that includes only the acts you and your crew want to see. Print out the sched or, if rummaging through your pockets for a hard copy is too much to ask for, take a screenshot of it with your phone so you always have it on hand.
Locate all the stages as soon as you arrive
Your Google Maps app can't help you here. When you first arrive on site, grab a map and scope out where all the different stages are. That way, when you need to sprint from the Hangout Stage to the Palladia stage in between sets, you know exactly where you're going.
Wear a cheap watch
You've got places to be and performances to see, but you won't be there on time if you don't know what time it is to begin with. You can obviously use your phone to check the time, but whipping out your fancy new iPhone 6 every other minute -- or straight-up carrying it in your hand 24/7 -- is an invitation for Apple pickers.
Wear comfortable shoes
They should be suitable for speed-walking and/or running between stages. I’m not saying wear sneakers, because sand is everywhere -- it's a beach, duh -- and we all know that sand + socks = eww. The Gulf Shores forecast for this weekend unfortunately calls for rain, rain and more rain. Be prepared! Wear something that repels water or, at the very least, won't become insanely uncomfortable once it inevitably gets soaked. With the right shoes, you run around all day without blisters slowing you down.
Pick one artist per day you absolutely HAVE to see up close
Compromise is key here. If you want to be front row center for Foo Fighter's headlining performance on Friday night, get to the Hangout stage early to secure your spot. This means you'll have to skip other sets. A good strategy is to pick the one performance you absolutely CANNOT miss, then schedule the rest of your day around it.
Stand in the back when you need to make a quick getaway...
If you have to sprint from one performance immediately to another, stand towards the back of the crowd during the first one. It'll be easier for you to leave PLUS you get extra dancing space to get your groove on. It's a win-win.
...Or leave before the last song
We know this is a tough move, especially since most musicians save their chart-topping hit for last. But if you are willing to duck out early, you'll avoid getting trampled by the crowd of festivalgoers who slowly meander away from the stage after there's zero chance of an encore happening.
The key here is moving quickly between stages, and you don't want your speed and weaving-around-drunk-people abilities to be hindered by a clunky backpack or tote. Dig out your fanny pack and put it to good use.
Eat a solid breakfast
You need some serious fuel to get you through these totally fun and totally exhausting days, so eat well in the morning before you arrive. When you've got a full schedule of music ahead of you, there might not be a ton of downtime to eat a full meal later on. You'll likely be scarfing down a quick hot dog in between sets. And don't forget to drink water! Your body will thank you.
Go with a friend but not 20 friends
If you roll into the festival with a huge posse, it'll be much harder to coordinate a lineup everyone agrees with. People will want to see different performances at different times and on different stages. Even if you're going with a big group of friends, make sure you have one or two ride-or-die buddies who want to see all the same sets you do. This way, you can sneak away from your crew to see the musicians you really want to check out.
Put on your resting bitch face
When you're stuck behind a group moving at a glacial pace and have two minutes before your fave band goes on, put on your best resting bitch face. Politely but firmly declare "excuse me" as you march through them. If you look like you mean business, people will instinctively move out of your way and clear a path for you. It's kinda messed up, but it works. A smile brightens a passerby's day, sure, but it sadly won't get them to walk any faster. :(