My heart is overflowing with love from this weekend! Suwannee Hulaween 2017 is in the books, and it was scary good. 😎 80+ Artists, 5 stages, 7 sets of The String Cheese Incident and 20,000 of my closest friends met for the biggest party ever held at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park.
If you haven’t been, Suwannee Hulaween is simply a must. Its a place where you can truly be free, not to mention get down to a ton of badass music with the coolest people in the world. Suwannee Hulaween 2017 approaches perfection with some the best music, costumes, and production level for any festival, anywhere.
At Hula there is a frightening amount of music: SCI, a down and dirty Bassnectar set, raucous funk-step from GRiZ, national acts Run the Jewels and Portugal, The Man, as well as jamtronica leaders, the Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee and Lotus.
The weather is fantastic! I get down to the Amphitheater stage and start my day with Nth Power, where Nikki Glaspie (Drums, Beyonce) shines bright laying down beautifully complicated beats for bassist Nate Edgar and guitarist Nick Cassarino.
Jam-heavy Spafford sizzle with their A-game. Guitarist Brian Moss leads the way with one solo after another for this team of Harry & Lloyds (Dumb and Dumber), all wearing matching tuxedos (shirts) and top hats. These guys are up and coming and not to be missed! Suwannee staple, Lettuce puts the amphitheater in full party mode when Nigel Hall (keys) riles up the crowd. The nation’s leading funk band has the sickest lights and brings the dirty late night funk time and time again.
Up next is my favorite band: Umphrey’s McGee. The boys of South Bend set the stage on fire with their fast paced, technically heavy rock. 2 sets feature “Push the Pig,” “Dump City,” and everyone’s favorite jam to roller blade to, “Booth Love.” It is great to see them outside and with light rig that isn’t their normal setup. Lighting Director extraordinaire, Mr. Jefferson Waful excels in every way. Perfectly timing the changes and picking out gorgeous color schemes, I could go on, and on, and on, and on …
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead finishes up the night. Their take on Grateful Dead music is next level! In the magic of the Amphitheater, JRAD leads the crowd on a journey, turning the screws on whatever jam they play along the way. Unafraid to take the path less traveled, they carve their own path on the way to a glorious first night.
I start the day with a great interview with Michelle Beebs. No longer a funky superhero, Beebs is taking a new approach and is writing a bunch of new music at the acoustic level. Check out the full interview here coming soon! Dumpstafunk takes up the next part of my day, and although I’ve seen lots, they are still so good. These big time bass lines by Tony Hall (bass) and Nick Daniels (also, bass) are exactly what I need to have a funky good time.
I then made my way to Nth Power’s “Wake up and Live” set for a bit, but with Damien Marley later in the weekend I decide to split and check out Indiana’s Earphorik. These prog-rockers lay down impressive jam session and I will definitely make time to catch them in the future. A quick stroll through Spirit Lake and Mike Gordon is up next. He was amazing at Wanee 2011 (last time I saw him) and I can’t wait for a repeat of that fantastic performance. His unique take on indie-rock is super stimulating and his set features a cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.”
After taking time to reel in a cute Texan from the entrance 😉 I make my way to my first String Cheese sets of the weekend. The second String Cheese set of the night is my favorite of the weekend, there are long jams and a really cool version of “River Trance” in the mix.
Lettuce is the again impressive as the opener for the main act for the weekend: BASSNECTAR. WHOMP WHOMP PEW PEW PEW WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP! I still feel the bass from this set in my chest. Walking into that meadow I now know what dubstep mayhem looks like. A sea of lights and lasers overstimulate the eye. And I have to say, after the rudest set I’ve ever been a part of, I’m impressed! Robot sounds aside, his live composition and constant high-powered hype is intoxicating.
I wake to find out my roommate has gotten engaged to an English chap whom has bought her a Ring Pop to seal the deal! Excited for their joint bachelor(ette) party later that night, I plan my day of music. I begin with Roosevelt Collier Trio who I won’t soon forget. The sweet sounds of his steel guitar call to me with the help of his very capable crew: Matt Lapham (bass), Anthony Cole (Drums, Mofro), and Keegan Matthews (keys). Next up on Saturday afternoon, I sit down with Big Something to have a stage-side chat. These fellas are both talented and talkative. Check that out! (Interview coming soon.)
I am able to enjoy a few minutes of Kamasi Washington’s jazzy-af set. It’s obvious he’s been playing the saxophone his whole life (since he was 5 to be exact). KW let out into French Kiwi Juice. A set where I am having a blast until two people in the crowd pass out from the heat and have to be helped away by Fire Rescue (hope you’re alright!). Staff are quick and calm as they helped the fainting duo.
After refueling back at camp I am ready for the big run of the weekend: SCI > Beats Antique > SCI > Shak Nasti > SCI: Night of the Loving Dead > Shiba San > Disco Biscuits > Run the Jewels > Daminan “Jr Gong” Marley.
Whew! My first time seeing Beats Antique and what a show! Live dancers and performers are the crowning jewel for this exotic sounding three piece. I can’t say enough about their incredible sound: a middle eastern based vibe with just the right amount of drum and bass behind it.
The String Cheese Incident’s feature set for the weekend is all covers about love: “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players and Jackie Wilson’s “High and Higher” entertain the crowd while they bubble heart and gorilla balloons.
While the funk is great, Shiba San’s deep house music is calling to me. So I make my way over to his set and I am thrilled to experience sick beat after sick beat. Shiba San tore it up with arguably the coolest set of the weekend. At this point, honestly, the rest of the night is a blur. Fun times with my best friends and cool scenes in Spirit Lake, I am in heaven.
Can’t stop, won’t stop! My feet are tired, and my back is sore, but the weather is so great that it doesn’t matter! I get the day going with the groups unanimously favorite dish: bbq pulled pork and cheese smothered tater tots. Yeah, you heard me right, and they were funking delicious! Okay, fueled up and ready to go I make my way to the media tent to sit down with Nashville rockers, Moon Taxi. The guys are fresh off two sold out nights at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and were looking forward to helping close out a spectacular Suwannee Hulaween. Check out the interview, coming soon!
Not long after, I had the pleasure of speaking with TAUK! The fearsome foursome are as cool off stage as they were on it. Interview coming soon. 😎
Portugal, The Man delivers with great set. His jam segments in his songs are so enjoyable and he even touches on “In the Flesh” by Pink Floyd during his journeys.
Today still has two more Cheese sets today. The first one has sit ins by multiple members of the Jerry Douglas Band! After the final Cheese set and a wardrobe change, (approaching 45 degrees at this point) I make my way to see Lotus on the huge and properly executed “Patch” Stage. The new set up for the stage is great. It takes advantage of the natural slope of the land and they didn’t crowd the area with a bunch of vendors, like last year. Although it’s a hike, the newest stage has awesome views and great sound!
Still in full dance mode from Lotus, I make my way into the most insane crowd I have ever witnessed — GRiZ. In the meadow the field is packed to the gills, jumping and swaying to the music this crowd is alive! Dancing in that mess of limbs and lasers, I can’t help but smile big. I am having the time of my life with the best people in the world!
I did it! I made it through the gauntlet!
I got to see amazing acts and super cool costumes. There were entire herds of Donnies from The Big Lebowski and a competing flock of Tinas from Bob’s Burgers. I even saw Fidel Castro hanging out with Garth from Wayne’s World!
Also, I want to mention the wickedly wonderful Spirit Lake — Creepy Crawlers, fire, lasers, and lots of lights fill this part of the park. Two stages were contained inside of the scare zone and it was also home to a huge spider that you could get inside of!
But wait, there’s more! Spirit Lake has swings, slack lines, and at some points during the night, they have a man with water jets coming from his feet flying above the water while wearing a multi-colored LED suit. I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. This really shows that Suwannee Hulaween’s commitment to being the best festival in the country. Bravo Hula, Bravo!
Thank you Suwannee Hulaween! You throw one hell of a party! Let’s do it again next year.
Happy festing Hulaweenies!
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