Background: Last year (2017) was my 60th birthday year and my present (to myself) was doing a tour of concerts and music festivals. My wife Tami and I attended:
- The SeaBreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach, FL(You got to love smooth jazz for this one), top tier was VIP.
- Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN(Four days of insanity), top tier was Artist Wristbands.
- The Hangout Music Festival in Orange Beach, AL. The Hangout was our favorite of the three listed and we went top tier was Super VIP.
While researching the worthiness of the premium paid for top tier VIP/Super VIP/Artist Wristbands; there was little to no detailed and reliable information available. The events had lots of promotional information usually done by the events themselves however, very little hard facts from those that actually experienced these exclusive ticket levels. This document will give you hard facts because, my wife Tami, I and sometime my daughter Alyssa, went to ALL of them and experienced it for ourselves. First hand so now we can give you our experiences. Our feature event will be The Hangout Music Festival.
The Hangout Music Festival: Today my blog will focus on The Hangout Music Festival and what makes up the “VIP” & “Super VIP” experience. It is important to know that Tami and I are booked to go back to The 2018 Hangout Music Festival this year in May. The other two (Bonnaroo and SeaBreeze) are up in the air and will most likely be last minute decisions. It sure helped that The Hangout has a very good client loyalty program, that reduces your investment per wristband/ticket for Super VIP by over $300.00. Hard to say no to that. Please also note, The Hangout Music Festival was my personal favorite of all three (3) because of the way I felt throughout the event with few acceptations. I attribute that to their staff of team members some of which were volunteers.
General Consideration You Should Know:
- We stay across the street at the Luxury RV Resort. Really not luxury at all. It was not the greatest nor the worst we have every stayed at. The convenience of location was really good to the festival. We are blessed last year to have an RV and this year to have a very nice Class “B” Airstream Interstate for our home away-from-home. The issue we became aware of was, the walk between the festival to the RV resort. It was slightly too long. So when we ended up going back to our RV (Condo) and we tended to wasting time prior to retuning quickly to the music festival. This was not a good use of time or resources. I personally learned last year (2017) to take our bikes along and the problem will be completely solved. We learned this from fellow RV’s at the park. Lots of places to lock-up your bike at the festival.
- If you are “Super VIP”, always eat & drink at the Super VIP dinning tent or VIP Grove. You paid dearly for it, it is better quality and no charge for food as well as drinks. This feature in Super VIP was my TOP benefit of this experience, in my opinion.
- Don’t miss out on the “Puppy Kissing” tent. Crazy right, free except for donation and fun. Everyday should start with a puppy kiss in life.
- One NIGHT when you are feeling really happy and or excited, get your friends together and take a ride on the Ferris Wheel. This will cost a bit however, it is cool seeing the event at night from high up.
- The Thursday, Pre-Party is, well, average to below average in every way. No VIP or Super VIP area’s open. No special entrance for pre-party. The drinks are super expensive as well as weak and the food is average to below average, at very best. If you have an artist you like, by all means enjoy. I am waiting for the Rolling Stones to consider the pre-party again, lol. This year Tami and I might pass on the pre-party all together. Instead simply, BBQ a steak at our motor coach and prepare for the next three (3) days of exhausting fun.
- Read the online rules ten (10) times. Know them better than the part-time seemingly non-trained security knows them. If you are high or drunk when you go in the entrance, get your stuff together prior to going through security. While in the festival, please keep yourself together. Nobody likes intoxicated folks you don’t know wanting to become your best buddy or having fights due to their state.
- Always be smiling. I notice to many people were simply NOT in the head space to smile and simply enjoy. It seemed to be a fashion show of sorts. Large groups of friends would walk texting, on the phone or emailing instead of enjoying their friends. These kids were younger festival goers, healthy, attractive and more about being seen then enjoying all parts of the wonderful event. I would casually say hello to everyone which is a southern courtesy and my response was rolling of the eyes. I am not young and attractive instead I am old and chubby. Bonnaroo was the exact opposite. The crowd there were happy, excited and really funny. That is a 60 year old man saying that.
- Don’t be mean to the staff team members. Be nice to everybody working or not. This festival is very expensive to run as well as attend, show some courtesy and always take the high-road.
What makes the “VIP” and or “Super VIP” worthy of serious consideration?
Let me start by saying again, I at 60 have NO interest in standing on the beach for 12 hours a day, with shade, in 90 degree temps with 30,000 – 40,000 18-32 year old’s drunk out of their mind. To be fair, they also don’t like a 60 year old dude in their space anyway, which makes the beach scene a little uncomfortable, that is if I spend too much time there. So the way it seems to work out is the younger folks stay on the beach most of the time and pay General Admission. The older ones get a VIP ticket, which is nice and a bit calmer. The 55 plus crowd get the Super VIP section which includes everything from the VIP and much more (See Below). The sponsors, special guest and filthy rich folks have the Big-Kahuna Package. What, I could be a Big-Kahuna. Nah, I am just old and spoiled. All of this is my personal opinion and observation.
VIP ($1,099.00 each): Includes all the things in General Admission.
- When you enter the festival, you have a VIP line that is quicker to get in to the festival. Unfortunately, this does not include the first night pre-party. That is a complete mess because everyone wants to get really crazy and the VIP areas are not open yet. The staff is just learning their jobs and the police are looking for folks selling or on drugs.
- Security at any gate is SUPER strict. It does not matter who you are or think you are, you WILL be searched. I personally tipped the security how searched me, best massage I got that year, LOL. The Hangout is known for having the highest security of any main-stream music festival. My wife Vapes. She is 59 years old and reads the written instructions very carefully. The rules clearly stated, Pre-Packaged and sealed vape cigarettes were OK. But that first night and every day of the festival, the guards took ANY type of Vape cigarettes and through them away. When you get inside, seems every other person you see is Vaping out in the open. I took the unused Vape cigs, back to my RV and came back wasting 45 minutes of my time. Now you see the importance of the above mentioned bikes. My wife argued with the police officer and almost go banned from the entire festival. Not a good night.
- On the actual, day-one, as you enter, you should go get the lay of the land for VIP’s. Utilizing the site map in hand, go directly to the newly updated VIP Grove. I loved this place. Drinks, some snack foods, if you choose, hammocks/lounge chairs/beach chairs. The staff was more than nice and accommodating. In the rear exit, the staff gives out all sorts of free stuff including nice wet towels and fans. Everyone loves the morning and evening Krispy Cream Donuts. My favorite thing was acts doing acoustical sets in the corner. This was awesome. I was in too much of a rush to get the Super VIP area, so I never really enjoyed the VIP Grove the way I should have. This year will be different.
- VIP wristband holders have a very close standing side view for most main stages. On the Hangout main stage there are VIP in-ground pools. This is really nice. Folks say after a long-day of drunken folks in the pool, it was less then clean. I am sure that is correct but did not stop most folks from a quick dip from the heat. VIP folks have very nice and clean bathrooms throughout the event.
- Conclusion: Worth the money if you are not on a very stick budge. The drinks, food and privacy is very much worth the premium price.
Super VIP ($1,699.00 each): Includes all the things in General Admission and VIP.
- They Hangout loyalty program. The normal price admission for Super VIP was $1,699.00. With loyalty it was over $300.00 less per ticket. The only down side was you buy your wristbands without knowing the Artist Line Up. For Tami and I, we did not care. When the artist line up schedules is available on-line, most people are more than happy.
- Super VIP Lounge: Private Super VIP lounge has most of the following:
- Awesome staff that really know how to make you feel welcome on a personal level.
- Short walk from the VIP Grove.
- Additional security to get in this lounge is pretty strict using your wristbands so NO friends aloud, unless they are also Super VIP.
- Lots of covered shade, ceiling fans, A/C Private bathrooms with attendants, lounge chairs, couches, tables for drinks and chairs. Never as crowded as is the VIP Grove.
- Also, NO drinks out of the Super VIP area is aloud, period.
- Raised view of main Hangout stage, excellent. You have the option to go in the VIP area and get side view close to the stage.
- New for this year, a Super VIP area for the other main stage is opened. I wish it was there last year for Chance the Rapper.
- Hot tubs (3-4) for relaxing and watching people or artist. Surprisingly not many folks used the hot tubs, I did once and my wife thought it was weird. Do you think it is weird to have an adult beverage, sunglasses on, watching a live performance while your back is massaged? What I did not like was a family with two young kids (Kids get in for free) taking over the hot tubs and jumping around. The parents were nowhere to be found. The hot tub got to become the baby sitter. Just not the right thing to do.
- Please know, rude people are a pain sometimes. They put a towel on their chairs and go off for an hour or two. The staff does their best on this. I simply take the towel, fold it and put it on a nearby table. The people come back sometimes a bit angry and I handle it nicely. Even though I am an bit intoxicated also. Someone got rude with me and I said, “You buy the lounge, not the chair.” That handled that.
- Full Premium Bar: Compilatory to all Super VIP and Big-Kahuna folks. I will not talk about Big-Kahuna much because I never experienced it nor could I even come close to afford it. The young servers at the bar usually are not really great at first, then they get in the mood knowing which folks are nice and those that are drunken, rude fools. Since I like Vodka drinks and my wife likes white wine, I know I had to do something for all the folks behind the bar up frond. So, I have them tips first thing at the beginning of the day and had several Fast Eddie Vodka hats from the local vodka vender. If you do this, keep it to yourself. We don’t want to get these young people in trouble. We just don’t want to be known as a bad concert goer. You also get a real drink instead of a weak drink. Win/Win situation.
- Lunch & Dinner: Not good, GREAT. This is so much better than ANY concert series anywhere. No one comes close. Remember, I went to Bonnaroo as both a VIP and had Artist Wristbands; also I went The SeaBreeze Jazz Festival as a VIP. Hangout brings different TOP chiefs every day to cook for you. This year they have a new Oyster room and wine tastings. In the Air conditioned dining room behind the Super VIP Lounge, you have your meals. In the tent is a food line that is never too long, always fresh and replenished often. A bar is in the corner with wine and top shield adult beverages depending on your taste. Want to know what they have, think of your favorite food, it is there. If you don’t like fine food, just go VIP and have Subway/Pizza which is perfect beach food. Remember, Sunday lunch is a brunch. When my family said lets to out to breakfast offsite on Sunday, I reluctantly agreed and should have known better. This year, I will be at the dining tent for the Sunday brunch for sure. My bad for not insisting.
- Golf Carts: I wish I would have figured this out better, earlier. Right behind the Super VIP Lounge are golf carts to take you to the other stages. So, since this year we have Super VIP viewing on ALL main stages, we will use this awesome golf cart perk very often. The drivers have the best job at the festival. Also, as you might expect, I tipped them often.
- Free Stuff: Every Super VIP guest gets a huge gift bag. They are reserved in your name so don’t worry they will run out. I would get mine as I was leaving one night to take back to my Motor Coach/condo. I hate walking around with a bag in hand all day.
- Conclusion: Worth every single penny. I would personally not go any other way. Except the Big-Kahuna which is CRAZY money.
The best part of this review was attending this year (2017), I will do things a bit different in 2018. The first year you do something like this and it is new as well as exciting. The next year it is usually a better time, because you know the lay of the land. My hopes are I gave you some good information so you can have a strategy for this years, 2018 Hangout Music Festival.
Hope this helps you decision and planning.