The 12th annual Eaglepalooza concert drew hundreds to the corner of Main and Pine Streets in downtown Hattiesburg at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Sponsored by Sim-Tex, 2015’s Eaglepalooza featured three bands: The DLX, Figure 8 and Echosmith. The free, public event provided a variety of vendors, offering businesses and organizations economic support and fellowship as they came together to support the community as a whole.
Eaglepalooza headliner Echosmith, a popular indie-pop band composed of four young Californian siblings, performed last and attracted around 1,000 people. The band is best known for its hit song, “Cool Kids.”
Eaglepalooza started in 2004, put on by and for students at The University of Southern Mississippi, as well as for the Hattiesburg community. The Student Government Association makes this event possible every year, involving community businesses, bands and organizations.
The opening act was determined by an SGA-hosted battle of the bands, in which artists from around Hattiesburg submitted videos of their acts for an opportunity to open at the event.
Last year’s Eaglepalooza featured Icona Pop, and past Eaglepalooza performers include rock band Needtobreathe and “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips.
“We started planning for Eaglepalooza back in April and planned it all summer,” said Miranda Mixon, Eaglepalooza director. “There was so much (going) into it, just finding sponsors so we could fund the event, and getting vendors and booking the bands to make sure everybody has the best time possible.”
Supporting sponsors from around the community include Eve Marie’s, Boardwalk, Plaid Rhino and The Cottages, among others. Organizations on campus like The Department of Residence Life, the Southern Miss Alumni Association and the USM Foundation also contributed to Eaglepalooza’s making.
The DLX, which opened the concert, is a local act and was voted recent winner of SGA’s first ever Battle of the Bands contest.
“We’re really proud to be able to support Hattiesburg’s music and help get their name out there to other people,” Mixon said. “With battle of the bands, we wanted to incorporate local music and support local musicians in Hattiesburg.”
The DLX formed nearly three years ago.
“This is one of the biggest things that Hattiesburg puts on, and I really wanted to be a part of it and did everything I could to be a part,” said Shawn Chambliss, singer of The DLX and USM alumnus. Chambliss and his best friends Mark Wheat (on drums) and Ethan Manning (on guitar) formed the group, which now includes Wheat’s wife, Joy, on background vocals and keyboard.
“It’s essentially like building a resume,” Chambliss said. “This is another thing that we could put on that resume. It’s an incredible opportunity because it is probably the biggest thing Hattiesburg puts on, so we’re going to utilize this. This is definitely going to help in propelling the release of our album.” SGA wanted to bring diversity to Eaglepalooza by bringing three artists of different musical spectrums. Figure 8 is a funk brass band from Mobile and adds a different element to Eaglepalooza. Echosmith is a pop band, and The DLX offers pop and EDM dance music.
“Echosmith is the biggest headliner that we’ve ever had, and that is what we’re most excited about, because it’s incredible when you get to bring that to Hattiesburg,” Mixon said. “Icona Pop was a huge headliner but Echosmith is very relevant. You can turn on the radio and you’ll quickly hear an Echosmith song. Everybody knows Echosmith and that is the defining factor between Echosmith and Icona Pop.”
From contacting the City of Hattiesburg to get the streets blocked off, to contacting businesses to gain sponsors, branches of SGA worked together to put on the annual event.
“Literally everything you see here was done solely by students of USM,” said Demetries Morrow, Eaglepalooza assistant director.
“I love music and getting to be a part of putting on something big that supports downtown Hattiesburg and that people can come out and have a good time at is an awesome experience,” said Cameron Cloud SGA freshman associate.
“I’m not that big of a fan of bands doing covers, but (The DLX) did a great job covering songs,” said Vincent McMurtery, senior entertainment production major.
“I enjoyed it, and I’m glad the people over the event took into consideration that people around here like different kinds of music. (They) tried to bring it all to the table, and with them bringing in different crowds, this was a better Eaglepalooza than it was last year.”
The DLX performed some of its original songs, including “Wake me Up” and “Let Go.” The band also covered “Can’t Feel My Face” by the Weeknd. Figure 8 covered “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, and Echosmith performed some of its well-known songs, including “Cool Kids” and “Bright.”
The scenery and the camaraderie at this year’s Eaglepalooza drew a large crowd to downtown as the event helped boost the economy of the city and spotlight local bands as well as local efforts of community and university members.