During this past weekend's Hangout Fest, we had the opportunity to spend a morning with co-founder, Lilly Zislin, and learn a little bit about the creators behind this hugely successful event. Before Lilly and her husband, Shaul, launched the festival six years ago, they were seasoned business owners with two restaurants—The Hangout (the festival's namesake) and The Gulf—several Surf Style shops, and various real estate properties along Alabama's shoreline. The Hangout Music Festival has added to their track record of success and put Gulf Shores, Alabama on the map. The beach-front music festival attracts artists such as Beck, My Morning Jacket, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder, The Black Keys, The Killers, Avett Brothers and many more.

Lilly, the creative mastermind behind the festival, commissioned local artists Bruce Larsen and Nall to ensure the festival had a unique visual layer. The two artists have work featured throughout the festival. She also makes it her mission to create memorable settings for the artists backstage. You will find them lounging in cozy vintage sofas, playing Ping Pong, or dining on fresh seafood. The large air conditioned dining area opens to a fully equipped private beach—full bar and all. She makes sure they experience full-fledged Southern hospitality while enjoying the beauty of the beaches.

Backstage Ping-Pong.
Interior of artist lounge.
Private beach for artists.

We'll be opting for VIP tickets from this point on. You can't beat the view of the stage seated from comfy lounge chairs or the fresh seafood buffet of: shrimp, raw oysters, caviar, clams, lobster, leak salad, and red snapper to name a few. The lovely touches of hydrangeas and orchids scattered around the dining area give way to an overall inviting environment. The event proves exquisite attention to detail from the co-founder, Lilly.

Photo: Annabella Charles Photography
Buffet of shrimp, caviar, and clams.
The Rubell Family Collection/Photo by Paula Disbrowe

Hangout Fest is among the most unforgettable musical experiences in our region and a truly unique way to experience the South. For these one-of-a-kind events, we have creative Southerners like Lilly to thank.

Beck's memorable performance closes the festival.