Hulaween has once again been nothing short of amazing from the start to the end. This festival grounds of Suwannee are some of the best we've experienced. The venue has more infrastructure than any we've been to including a store, restaurant, beach, permanent indoor and outdoor stages, bath houses and hundreds of campsites with power & water! Where else can you see dozens of awesome bands, hundreds of great costumes and thousands of bats! Yes, there's a huge bat house on site where you can see them coming out en masse at sunset. Thank you bats, for getting rid of all the mosquitoes and other insect pests for all of us nature loving people! Seeing the sky moving in waves of black bats was something to behold.
The pre-party on Wednesday featured Asheville's Dr. Bacon and Atlanta's Voodoo Visionary to set the mood right. Thursday kicked off in high gear with rising acts such as The Jaden Carlson Band, Magic City Hippies, Holly Woods, Kyle Hollingsworth, Eoto, and Circles Around the Sun with Eric Krasno (who filled the guitar role more than adequately). Plus some heavy hitters like Umphrey's McGee, STS9 and Greensky Bluegrass (video).
On Friday, the weather was typical Florida - warm and humid! Perfect to see hot daytime acts like The Motet kicking off the Meadow Stage in funky style and right across the way seeing the young Brandon Taz Niederauer slaying his guitar. Andy Frasco and the U.N. brought the party like no other! Including sit-ins from Taz and Lyle Divinsky from The Motet (video). It's more than just music, it's an experience! The mighty Lettuce fed us some psychedelic funk. Lettuce is always a healthy addition to your diet! Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine started his set off in the crowd and then brought his guitar pyrotechnics to the stage for an engaging set. And we can't leave out the host band, String Cheese Incident! They always go above and beyond at Hula - which probably affords them the opportunity to have the best production quality of the year. During this set they also brought out members of The Motet and others (see video). Into the later part of the night we were also entertained by Break Science, more Umphrey's McGee (video) and STS9, plus Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, TAUK, Bassnector and some late night John Stickley Trio. You just can't catch it all but you do your best!
On Saturday we enjoyed some reggae by the legendary Steel Pulse, as well as one of our favorites, The Hip Abduction. It's a 90's theme day and lots of great costumes are spotted all around. String Cheese does a themed set featuring a bunch of fun 90s songs (see portions of it here). Thundercat is also out there rocking his crazy bass for all of us to hear. Memba and Shak Nasti is throwing down in the spirit lake area. Travers Brothership rocked the Campground Stage late night! It was a heater!! And folks who stayed up super late were treated to a fun set from Grass Is Dead.
Sunday highlights included a smokin' set from Billy Strings (check out some videos). Who also stuck around to sit in with String Cheese Incident! Joe Russo's Almost Dead played 2 sets on the Patch and had all the Deadheads grooving hard. Meanwhile Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit were cranking out some awesome award winning Americana rock on The Meadow stage.
One of the things that sets Hulaween apart from most festivals are the interactive art installations surrounding Spirit Lake. In addition to all the immersive mind-blowing art, the lake is lit up with an incredible light show that is complimented by a wall of mist that 3D holograms are projected onto. We've not seen anything like it anywhere else and that alone warrants your future visits to Hulaween.
- by Justin Barnett & Lee Crumpton
- photos by Justin Barnett
- Thanks to Rex Thompson of Rex-A-Vision for the video clips!