Hangout Festival Spotlight: AJ Niland, Promoter

Videos by American Songwriter

AJ Niland, a promoter for the inaugural Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama, promises more bikinis and sun tans than any other festival on the circuit this summer. Oh yeah, there’s great music, too, as this year’s lineup features everyone from John Legend to Trey Anastasio to the Black Crowes. Tickets for the May 14-16 festival are available online at Ticket prices are $159 for a three-day pass and limited $79 day passes are now available. American Songwriter spoke with Niland about this weekend’s event.

When did you get the idea of the Hangout Festival?

I have been working on a new festival concept for a while, but it was until last fall when everything came together with investor Shaul Zislin.

Will the oil spell affect the festival in any way? It sounds pretty nasty down there.

It’s affecting our coastline and environmental habitats, but poses no threat to the safety of the public at this time.

What has the response been to the festival so far?

The response has been fantastic. We have seen some slower sales since the spill, but the oil spill has also raised the voices of our ticket buyers, who are all saying, ‘Let’s do something about this!’

Did you base the Hangout Festival on any others of its kind, or is this a new beast we’re dealing with?

It’s hard to be totally unique. You will see some similar production equipment, and our bands play other festivals. But this fest is totally unique in look and feel from any other festival out there. I guarantee there will be more bikinis and sun tans than any other festival out there.

How many people are ya’ll expecting?

20,000 to 30,000 per day.

I saw the Flaming Lips pulled out due to the illness of multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd. Will there be another headliner?

Yes, we have added The Roots to the lineup.

Why did you decide to have it in Gulf Shores?

Because it has the most beautiful, white, sandy beaches and a community willing to open its arms to a great music event.

Do you plan on making the Hangout an annual event?

If we can have it for 50 more years, we will.


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  1. We are from North Alabama and came down for a work event and stayed so we could attend the Festival on Friday. WOW!! It was awsome! Just wish we could have stayed the weekend.
    Will plan on attending next year and will bring family and friends!!
    Way to go A J

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