Public Enemy Shut It Down At Hangout Festival

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by Gil Kaufman

GULF SHORES, Alabama — MTV News’ Sway Calloway said it from the stage, but after watching Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hip-hop icons Public Enemy tear it down on Saturday afternoon on day two of the Hangout Festival, there was no doubt: PE are a national treasure.

In an early-afternoon set in the Boom Boom Tent that had the audience shouting along to a set of iconic hits, Chuck D, Flavor Flav and the rest of the crew hardly took a breather while serving up titanic anthems including opener “Can’t Truss It,” which left no doubt where the bass was gonna hit the fans packed into the tent.

With Chuck already running the show, Flav ran out in an all-orange Air Jordan T-shirt and shorts set, complete with matching high-tops, and the longtime foils punched the air along to the incredible thump of “911 is a Joke.”

What’s amazing about PE in 2013 is that lyrical hydrogen bombs like “Welcome to the Terrordome” haven’t lost an inch of their punch, even on an audience that looked like most hadn’t been born when the songs first hit.

Swinging his microphone like a baseball bat and tossing it in the air, Chuck smiled as, yes, the drummer got wicked, bashing out the song’s thunderous beat while DJ Lord kept things moving with the Bomb Squad’s signature chaotic backing tracks.

Flav took a turn on bass for “Bring the Noise,” which got the crowd hopping up and down and waving their hands, and then a cappella beatboxed his way into “Don’t Believe the Hype.”

They may have been listening to Baby Einstein when most the songs were recorded, but the crowd shouted along to “Hype” as if it was a brand new track. DJ Lord gave them something else to relate to during his spotlight, mixing the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” with the drum break from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” spinning back the song’s legendary intro over and over until the whole house was losing its mind.

Before 1987′s “Timebomb,” Chuck gave a shout out to MTV’s own “Yo! MTV Raps” for its early support, one of several nods to the network during the show. As the time ticked down, the audience raised their power fist for “Fight the Power,” alternating it with a peace sign and middle finger during a set-closing plea from Flav against racism and separatism.

“Peace!” he yelled, as embraced Sway and thanked his old friend for all the support over the years.

We’re live-streaming performances throughout the weekend on our official Hangout hub, bringing you interviews, behind-the-scenes access and on-demand performances from all your favorite artists on MTV.com, VH1.com, CMT.com and LogoTV.com. Highlights from Hangout 2013, will also air on MTV, VH1, CMT, MTV2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, VH1 Classic and Palladia.

MTV, VH1 and CMT are on the ground at Hangout 2013, bringing you all the latest news, interviews, performances and more from the Shores. If you’re not able to be there, be sure to check in and watch live streaming performances all weekend.