Hulaween is the Best Halloween Festival
This October, my friends and I made the hike to North Florida to go camping to experience a real Halloween Festival. We unpacked the car, filled with more alcohol than could ever be reasonably consumable, the tent, the irrelevant (but ultimately deemed necessary) accessories needed, and set about our site. Everyone was excited for the camaraderie and memories that would be made. Alright, we may have been as equally excited about the weekend long helping of funk, psychedelic rock, and dance music as well, but that is what makes Hulaween the Best Halloween Festival. The festival brings the best elements of camping and perfectly pairs them with the sounds of top artists around the world.
After getting acclimated to the festival grounds, which included two open stages in the forest, a descending amphitheater, and the mesmerizing spirit lake area. we raced over to catch surging Colorado Trio Sunsquabi. With their signature live electronic sound, they were a perfect way to get the energy of night one going. Next, we checked out Brodinski, one of the acts signifying a shift in the festival’s roster with the addition of more electronic acts this year, he seamlessly blended hip hop and hard techno for a memorable set that showcased the French exports skills behind the decks.
After some banging sets by the likes of Gramatik and Boys Noize, we descended upon the Spirit Lake, which like a fest within a fest of sorts. Complete with a steady supply of fog, numerous art installations and sensory experiences, Spirit Lake was arguably the most engrossing experience of the festival and transported attendees to another world. It was here that Dirtybird don and techno maverick Claude Von Stroke closed out the night, playing the best of his old and new material with throbbing cuts “Who’s Afraid of Detroit” and “The Rain Break” that kept the crowd vibing hard until close.
Saturday provided a bit of a switch up, with more funk and jam oriented acts taking the stage. Festival curators and creators String Cheese Incident played a special 80’s throwback set in line with the Stringier Things theme they set for the Halloween weekend, doing renditions of classic dance tracks such as Let’s Groove and Weird Science that had everyone cheesing. The surprise of the night, as well as the fest, would have to go to Bob Moses, who played a moody, danceable rock set dressed as The Guns and Roses. In the Spirit Lake, with dim lights, and fog crowding the stage, one would be forgiven if they had deja vu with the lead singer jamming in full Slash attire, complete with his signature Gibson guitar. Closing out the night was British pop-garage sensation, Disclosure. While from a dj ing perspective they didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, they played some of their best hits and remixes, and had the crowd melting when they closed with Outkast gem “Ms Jackson”.
As the fest came to a close, we made sure to check out some of the amazing vendors onsite. One of my favorites was a piece from Headie Hoodies, which provides vibrant hoodies for festival goers (see below). After getting some merchandise, we quickly rushed over to catch What So Not, who provided a signature trap and future infused set. One of our other surprises of the weekend was shortly after with Louis the Child. Coming off of their hit single “It’s Strange”, they played an infectiously fun set that provided some great vibes before swiftly running over to catch Big Gigantic, who played alongside the Motet. The Motet greatly augmented the duo’s usual performance by allowing more of an orchestral feel to their productions, and the visual production they brought out for the closing was nothing short of spectacular. Afterwards, we all wearily sauntered back to camp and prepared for the long drive home.
As we sauntered back to our cars in hopes of avoiding the end of fest rush, we said good bye to new friends and reminisced on the memories made. Their’s something special about fest like these that add a human element, one of connectivity and community that you don’t find at other major festivals across the globe. The need to connect and help each other at the site, and the fact you are thrust next to around 25,000 new neighbors overnight. Hula showed what is possible when you provide an eclectic, yet extremely well curated lineup, with a laid back, communal camp setting, resulting in an unforgettable and one of a kind experience. That is why we love it and think it is the Best Halloween Festival!