The wait for the 2016 Hangout Beach, Music & Art Festival is almost over. From May 20-22, Gulf Shores will be ground zero for one of America’s most unique music festivals. As mentioned in the last issue of Lagniappe, indie pop is one of the biggest current musical trends, and Strangers You Know is one act that should not be missed.
Over the years, Strangers You Know has gone through several stages of evolution to arrive at its current, multi-instrumentalist lineup and sound, one of the freshest on the scene.
“At the beginning, we were a four-piece indie rock group,” band member Adam Haagen said. “We had guitar, bass, drums and keyboard, but that’s been done before. It’s not that we have no respect for that orientation, but we wanted to branch out and have our own new sound.”
Strangers You Know began with a chance meeting at Coachella between Haagen and Grady Lee. Even though the two shared what Haagen called a “harsh dichotomy,” their friendship eventually grew into a musical project.
The duo spent years trying to arrive at the satisfactory aural experience the two desired. As they experimented with different lineups and sounds, Haagen and Lee found themselves delving into a new style that mixed indie pop with hip-hop, R&B, folk and rock. Lee describes it as going in a million different directions, but their listeners are finding it to be the right one.
“I think that it’s something that hasn’t been seen before,” Lee said. “The generation now wants to be different from the generation before them. We’re in a transitional stage right now. I think that a lot of the times it takes a minute for what is pop to catch up with what is indie or vice versa.”
The concept of modern casual relationships is echoed throughout the six tracks found on the band’s latest EP, “Loosen Up the Leash.” The track “Used” is an excellent portrayal of both the band’s versatile sound and the album’s social concept. Layered vocals are combined with EDM beats and an acoustic guitar track. Lee says the track shows just one of the many aspects of the album’s concept.
“‘Used’ is just one side of it,” Lee said. “It’s the lack of satisfaction and the trouble with not being necessarily happy and wanting more than you’re getting.”
Those who catch Strangers You Know’ at Hangout Fest 2016 should expect the unexpected. The band’s current style of music is just as fresh for them as it is for their listeners. As Haagen and Lee make their way to Gulf Shores, the duo admits their live translation of these new tracks could change greatly. With the million directions in which this band travels, any chosen path should be an excellent one.
Three-day, VIP and Super VIP passes are still available at the Hangout Fest website as of this writing.