The “Stringier Things” set was an over-the-top production designed to be the climax of the weekend’s festivities. The stage featured the ominous “Stringier Things” text blazoned across the screen, peals of sinister laughter blaring from the speakers, a fireworks display and the whole band in costume, plus SCI invited guest vocalists Rhonda Thomas and Tony White, as well as their friends from the Antibalas horn-section, Martin Perna, Jas Walton, Jordan McLean and Jeff Pierce, to lend a hand on some hits from the 1980s. The show attracted the weekend’s largest crowd and despite a shortage of open space, it was evident that nearly everyone had a costume and an inability to resist the urge to Cheese out. Some of the highlights were “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” The Clash hit central to the first season of the television series Stranger Things, Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science,” GnR’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” the B-52s smash hit “Love Shack” and a medley that began with Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” They tricked fans with a “Thriller” tease that segued into “Never Gonna Give You Up,” thus signaling to the Hulaween faithful that they had been Rickrolled, before finishing with the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” Lastly, Cheese encored the only song appropriate to cap off their “Stringier Things” set, the Talking Heads’ anthem “Burning Down the House.”
After a much deserved break, the sextet returned for a third set, jumping immediately back into standard Cheese fare with 2014’s instant classic “Colorado Bluebird Sky” which was followed by a fresh one, with the always smooth Keith Moseley taking the lead vocals on “Sweet Spot.” The next sequence began with “Rivertrance,” then moved into a “Believe>Way Back Home>Miss Brown’s Teahouse” combo complete with a Rubik’s cube jam which saw the audience passing around several giant inflatable Rubik’s cubes, pressing SCI’s authentic improvisational and songwriting chops to the forefront. Another one from 2014’s Song In My Head, “Colliding,” gave the crowd one more well executed jam, then SCI asked their guests back onstage and sent the people into the night on a high note with Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.”
While the String Cheese Incident took center stage on Saturday night, organizers did keep the options open for festivalgoers in search of something different. Washed Out threw down a chilly set of ambient jams that won over the crowd at the Spirit Lake stage as did Vancouver-born livetronica band Bob Moses, performing in costume as Guns n’ Moses. And after SCI finished, the Meadow hosted Disclosure’s DJ set. Hailing from Surrey, England, the Grammy-nominated electronic duo kept the heads bobbing late into the night. Meanwhile at Spirit Lake, New Orleans rockers The Revivalists dropped in with one of the strongest performances of the weekend. Their set was funky with a twang, kept up a stomping groove, included original, deliberate lyrics served up in grave rock n’ roll vocals and garnished with two Nine Inch Nails covers, “Closer” and “The Hand That Feeds,” which brought the stew to a hard boil. After The Revivalists, Spirit Lake housed the evening’s final live air performances as Larry Keel and Jon Stickley collaborated for an Americana styled guitar freakout, then South Florida natives Grass is Dead brought it all to a finish with a set of bluegrass-leaning Grateful Dead arrangements.
Hulaween’s final day, although a much shorter affair, stayed in sync with its predecessors, providing a bevy of diverse performances across the several stages. The Travelin’ McCourys initiated the early afternoon action on the main stage, bringing their storied bluegrass chops to the Meadow, while El Dub impressed at the Spirit Lake stage with his hip-hop infused one-man band project. Spirit Lake also welcomed a full roster of arists of the rise, including reggae funk rockers Spritual Rez, San Francisco-based electronic artist Illenium and experimental Australian DJ What So Not, all of whom added their efforts to Hulaween’s burgeoning pool of creativity.