GULF SHORES, Ala. - A year ago bad vibes from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and fear over the future of Gulf Coast tourism hung like rain clouds over the inaugural Hangout Music Festival this resort destination.
Flash forward 12 months and the festival has sold out. Paul Simon, Foo Fighters and Widespread Panic are headlining and a place that relies heavily on tourism is getting what looks like a long-term boost. Organizers bill the three-day festival, which starts Friday, as the only event where you can watch music with your toes in the sand and a beach view.
"What makes the Hangout so successful is that we booked a stellar lineup of music in the most beautiful setting," Hangout founder Shaul Zislin said. "We also take pride in our how we treat our fans, our artists and our staff. Everyone who attended last year's Hangout knows we put on a first-class festival experience - it's what will keep people coming back and telling their friends about us."
Local officials looked to the festival as a barometer for the rest of the tourist season a year after the BP oil spill fouled the Gulf of Mexico and left business owners fearful of a black tide on the white sand beaches. All signs are positive. All 35,000 tickets sold out about a month ago and you can't find a room in an area where you can walk from your condo door to the festival.
The ticket sales are more than double last year's 15,000 and some of music's hottest acts signed on this year. Along with the headliners The Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, The Flaming Lips, The Avett Brothers and Cee Lo Green make for a top-heavy lineup this year.
Fans who didn't make it to the beach this year can watch select live concerts and highlights streaming on the Internet at http://www.spin.com and www.iclips.net beginning each day at 1:30 p.m. EDT throughout the weekend.