This recent Halloween weekend things went bump in the night. They also went womp womp, untz untz untz, and twanggggg. Hosted by The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park and The String Cheese Incident, Hulaween was an event, curated by Silver Wrapper & Purple Hat Productions, that took the opportunity to up the game. Festivals will never be the same. The eclectic line up was laid out in expert fashion with little to no overlap or serious conflicting set times, making it easy to catch as much of the 52 bands and artists as one desired. The 8,000+ attendees took full advantage of this, making sure of course to allot enough time to get costumed and painted, with feathers, fishnet, and furry accessories galore. Many embraced their inner flow and hula hooped, juggled, and spun poi throughout the weekend.
With a large percentage of the crowd arriving Thursday, they were treated to pre-party sets by Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Particle and Electron – which is comprised of members of Lotus, Brothers Past and The Disco Buscuits; Electron brought the heat and whipped the eager crowd into a pulsing frenzy.
Friday brought a very danceable DJ day set by Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation at the Spirit Lake Stage. Emancipator took the amphitheater stage as the sunset was imminent, setting the tone for Friday night with their luscious ambient beats. The shades of sky serenaded the crowd through the streamers and Spanish moss hanging from the Oak and Cyprus trees. Shortly after, the first of seven String Cheese Incident sets was followed by the Psy-Trance peculiarity of Shpongle, priming the costumed crowd for SCI’s Halloween set. In costumes themselves and playing all covers, String Cheese’s second of three sets was a banger, highlighted by The Ghosbusters Theme, Live and Let Die, Don’t Fear The Reaper, and closed with Thriller. Following a short set break they played originals during their final set of the night, then treated the crowd to Superstition by Stevie Wonder as an Encore. Rounding out the Halloween evening festivities with their upbeat reggae vibe, Thievery Corporation performed with a full live band.
EOTO, one of the side projects of String Cheese percussionists Jason Hann and Michael Travis, closed out the Main stage Sunday evening. Embattled with a few technical difficulties, their unique mix of electronic and live instrumentation was a perfect send off.
Throughout the weekend the Amphitheater Stage hosted an incredible amount of talented musicians. Shpongle, Beats Antique, Nahko & medicine for the People, Conspirator, The New Deal, and Future Rock all had inspired performances. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead proved to be one of the premier Grateful Dead cover acts as they brought the festival to an end Sunday Night. Many resorted to hanging in the multitude of hammocks interspersed throughout the trees at the amphitheater stage, helping to harness the energy created there during each show.
Spirit Lake saw the Lake at Suwannee turned into a surreal Burning Man inspired artistically themed play land. With the JellyJump dome there were many swings and bungees to bounce around on. A haptic Forest had “haptic trees” that would react to motion near them and create various spooky sounds while revelers filtered through waving their extremities. Art installations, sculptures, metalwork, lights and laser projections could be found in every nook to exhilarate the senses, including Baby Bhudda, a twenty-foot tall metal Statue with flames shooting from its hat and ears. Special late night fire spinning performances were a treat for those fortunate enough to pace themselves.
Words often fall short in accurately describing the vibrations that are found at Spirit of the Suwannee music Park, with “magical” frequently bandied as the go to word. And it IS magical, with a multitude of festivals each year, Hulaween is certainly poised to be the flagship festival for Suwannee. Bringing a gorgeous mix of creativity, beauty, sound, and nature together, Brotherly Love Productions (who managed the media presence), Purple Hatters Productions and Silver Wrapper has set the bar very high.