5 musical moments that shook the crowd at Suwannee Hulaween 2017 (Event Review)
Suwannee Hulaween has just turned five, but that’s not the festival’s only accomplishment in 2017. The Silver Wrapper and Purple Hat-partnered event has cemented itself as the south’s premiere fall festival; held inside the eminent musical venue of Florida’s Suwannee Music Park at Spirit Lake, the event boasts four days of expertly-curated jamtronica, underground bass, and unique house music offerings. In today’s over-saturated music festival market, standing out among the rest takes one part true tenacity and a pinch of good luck. Yet, the “spirit of Suwannee,” as many refer to these sacred grounds, runs deep into the roots of its towering moss-covered trees.
Fresh off its conclusion, we’ve compiled 5 unforgettable moments from Hulaween’s 2017 that made it’s fifth anniversary its most bright, prosperous, and wildly auspicious event to date.
All photos courtesy of Suwannee Hulaween
The String Cheese Incident's infamous Saturday night set
The String Cheese Incident is known for having a heavy hand in curation at their mainstay festivals. With six full sets on the 2017 bill, the coveted show of this weekend was SCI’s Halloween-themed “Night Of The Loving Dead” performance. Their love-themed set included renditions of iconic songs like Sublime’s “What I Got,” Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love,” and of course, both the Bob Marley and Beatles’ original by the same name, “All You Need is Love” amidst fireworks, confetti blasts, and giant inflatables began making their over a sea of plastered smiles. For long-time attendees of Hulaween, the talk of the weekend centers around Cheese’s Saturday night “shebangs” — and for good reason. As an undeniable bridge between the jam scene and electronic scenes, String Cheese’s vision of bringing a multi-genre bill to life runs deep into the spirit of Suwannee.
Space Jesus's secret set at the Indendia Stage
Stumbling across the Incendia stage at 2 am is as much of a treat as it is a must. Famous for its birthplace at Burning Man in 2013, the mobile artistic installation and interactive stage consists of six geodesic structures, all featuring a spellbinding propane flame effect ascending from atop its modular ceilings. Incendia has made its way across the US over the years, and is better known to Floridians as Okeechobee‘s secret set locale for artists like Snails, GRiZ, Ganja White Night, and more. Hulaween was no different. As attendees made out like children wandering through the iridescent woodland playgrounds of Spirit Lake, the unmistakable inter-dimensional wubs of Space Jesus drew late night wanderers like a moth to a flame — bringing truth to the idiom “not all that wander are lost.”
GRiZ's golden hour secret set in the campgrounds
Before closing out the Meadows main stage with an elating funk-driven set, GRiZ took to the campgrounds some time around the golden hour, thereby confirming the rumors his family had been clamoring about all weekend. As the sun peaked through the trees, the All Good Records label head played up-close-and-personal for a crowd of roughly a hundred people. The secret set would become the memorable moment of Suwannee Hulaween — for those lucky enough to attend, that is. For all others, GRiZ’s campground appearance was the most heartbreaking affliction of the weekend (Watch it here).
Manic Focus bringing out Space Jesus and Break Science
Taking to the Amphitheater stage on Saturday night, Manic Focus (aka “JmaC”) elevated his new wave hip-hop infused electro-soul act to new heights. The All Good Records producer served fans a hearty helping of tracks from his most recent genre-defying LP, Minds Rising, as the All Good family poured down the stage’s narrow steps. JmaC’s fiercely spirited performance culminated to the point when he brought Space Jesus onto the stage for some heavy back-to-back play, capped off with another rare Break Science showing alongside Lettuce drummer Adam Deitch.
The five songs that dominated the dance floor
Walking through Suwannee felt like blasting back into time. The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was agreed upon by attendees as the most played song of the weekend, imbuing the sacred grounds of Suwannee with an authentic Woodstock vibe. Michael Jackson’s 1980s hit “Thriller” was another popular stage anthem, creating an appropriately spooky vibe for the Halloween weekend event. Deep within the forest’s Spirit Lake stage, Dirtybird boss Claude Von Stroke treated his audience to his retro-house redo from two 80s classics, “The Rain Break.” A solid trap mainstay of the festival came courtesy of Minnesota with his recently-released, long-awaited track, “HiLow,” which was heard heavily across the bass stages. Finally, Bassnectar premiered his unreleased collaboration with Digital Ethos, “Slather,” which was broadcasted across his 2017 traveling stage set-up.
Perhaps the biggest strength of Suwannee Hulaween lays in the manageability of it’s size. Set in an expansive venue, capped at 25,000 attendees of all ages and sizes, the festival values keeping the authentic transformational vibe alive over notorious expansion and maximizing profit. This vibe scuttles deep into the spirit of the festival grounds, across its swampy sands and panoramic landscapes.
Indeed, even Sherwood purists often end up finding themselves more at home within this more intimate, yet equally magical venue. With a well-curated line-up and a more intimate venue, its no wonder Suwannee Hulaween has blossomed into the shiny new jewel of the jam, bluegrass, and bass scene.