Hayes Carll, Luella & the Sun Rise at Hangout Music Festival
Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll

Did you know Hayes Carll got his start singing at a beach restaurant just beyond Galveston, Texas? And that his band has four contortionists and a light show? Well … maybe he was exaggerating, but you can blame his altered state of mind on the blazing sun shining down on the Hangout Festival on Thursday afternoon (May 16) in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Carll is just one of dozens of artists digging their heels into the sand at Hangout Festival over the weekend. Nashville is well represented, too, with Kings of Leon headlining on Friday night. Fans showing up earlier in the day were treated to a performance on the BMI Stage by Luella & the Sun, one of the most buzzed-about bands in Nashville right now.

The lead singer falls in a zone between Alabama Shakes and Bjork, with a streak of Otis Redding rising to the surface now and then. For the set, she wore big sunglasses, a thick white belt and cascades of soda-can fasteners over her black dress. Quirky, sure, but the upbeat ensemble kept the audience moving and clapping through the hour-long set.

Tom Petty and Stevie Wonder are also headlining in the days to come, and pretty much every musical genre is represented — from Americana to hip-hop. So there’s always a chance to stumble across a band you haven’t heard. (For me, it was Ra Ra Riot, whose mash-up of dance and pop sounds just like summer.)

See photos and watch the live stream at Hangout Music Festival 2013.