Suwannee Hulaween Review – Funky Trippy Fun

 Suwannee Hulaween Review – Funky Trippy Fun

The moment you enter the grounds of Suwannee you find yourself engulfed by hauntingly beautiful Spanish moss covered oak trees. Smiling faces of friends and strangers take in all they can as music fills the air. At night, the forest comes alive as lights and lasers dazzle and dance with you. Those who attended Suwannee Hulaween 2015 this past Halloween weekend forever have the memories of this truly magical event. For those who missed it, have this Hulaween Review , complete with ML Hobby’s photos to inspire their plans for next Halloween.

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Before I even get into the Hulaween Review festivities, huge props need to go to the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. These people seriously have the music festival scene down. The event was so well run; no one was short a helping hand, lines never got too crazy and overall everything just flowed so smoothly. Although not all of the staff were fans of the music, I talked to one security guard who said the jam band scene was “definitely not his style,” they were still more than happy to bop along with the music and make sure everyone was having a great time.

After what seemed like a lifetime of scooting 3 inches at a time through a maze of tapestry-covered campsites and dread-headed hippies, our crew (Shit Friends) found the most perfect enclave to set up our camp. Our shantytown was constructed faster than you can say Papidosio. After a little freshening up we were ready to head into our adventure.

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The campsites were a site in and of itself, festival goers surrounded their camps with Halloween decorations, lights, and tapestries; a colorful display of each groups personality and music preference. Our camp was donned in true Halloween fashion, complete with spider webs and our friendly Hulaween Ghost-piñata, Boo. The entrance wasn’t far and before you even got there you could hear the music and see the giant light-up Ferris wheel greeting you into a place of fun and wonder.

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As soon as you made it through the surprisingly chill security guards, you’re welcomed by giant HULA letters, surrounded by all sorts of people hanging out on blankets or hula hooping. At night, a distant projection machine illuminated the letters. People could dance, chill on the hill and take pictures in front of the ever-changing patterns and colors that showed throughout the night.  

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Nestled at the bottom of the hill was the Main Stage, where several top-bill musicians played. Pretty Lights, The Polish Ambassador, and STS9 drew huge crowds to this stage. And the headlining act, The String Cheese Incident, played an astounding 7 sets throughout the weekend.

String Cheese Halloween set, Ghoul Train, was a funky 70s themed party hosted by GZA himself, paying homage to Don Cornelious. Donned in pimp costumes, foxy bell bottoms and afro-wigs galore, it’s not surprising that ALL attendees were present for this set. It doesn’t hurt that there weren’t any other performances happening at the time. Complete with confetti, bubbles, roller skaters, and of course lots of lasers String Cheese and Hulaween solidified this funky fest with their themed performance.

Past the unique food vendors and through the artisan shops the Ampitheater stage was shrouded in a canopy of Spanish moss and spooky lasers. Some of the best performances were at this stage, and if you could suffer through the dust that was kicked up from all the dancing, you’d agree that this stage was probably the best. The very first set we saw were The Floozies, who came out as Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter, and had an insane crowd. The stage also hosted the likes of the Papadosio, who were dressed (and spoke) like the muppets; Odesza, who had probably the largest crowd at this stage, wrapped up the show with their unreleased trap track, which drove the crowd NUTS; Primus, who naturally had a weird and fun vibe; and Slightly Stoopid who played a funkier set than usual, which was an amazing twist that fit the fest perfectly.

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We were lucky enough to sit and chat with one of the Slightly Stoopid members, Oguer “OG” Ocon, to talk about the festival and the band in general. Keep an eye out for our exclusive interview article coming soon!

While the music and vast lineup of Suwannee Hulaween is nothing to scoff at, the main attraction of the whole event has to be the Spirit Lake. Tucked into the back of the venue, a colorful demon mouth entrance greeted you into the colorful trippy wonderland of various art instillations and two performance stages. Put on by the same art director as Burning Man, Spirit Lake is a testament to all that is unique individualistic art. “If you ever want to know what it’s like to trip on acid, just step inside Spirit Lake,” photographer ML Hobby stated.  

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It’s hard to put into words the amazing installations spread throughout the Spirit Lake space. At night the woods were live with lights and lasers that illuminated each project. Ornately cut boards were placed around the area, and chosen local artists came the Tuesday before the event to create a unique piece of work to display. Giant wooden and steal sculptures were in place to warm and excite festival goers. Interactive pieces were also present; a lit sand board where you could create your own mandala, or a beautifully lit swing where you could sit and read a deep poem about Mother Nature and the creation of life, just to name a few.  A dome was made with ribbons and swings hanging down where people were free to climb and swing while bubbly music played. At the banks of the lake people sat mesmerized by the dazzling lights emitted from the middle of the water. The lasers and lights hypnotized those walking through the woods turning the whole space into a multi-colored, trippy happy-place for all.

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With all of the art and music that surrounds you at the event, Hulaween also provides fun activities and interactive experiences. An installation called “Sonic Portal” was a free meditation experience where a group of people were surrounded by gongs and cymbals tuned to each planets frequencies. A peaceful woman named Star and another assistant lightly rang the gongs around the group for five minutes as they deeply meditated. Truly a peaceful and interesting process to see and be a part of. There was something to do and see everywhere you went at Hulaween. Hungry? Go to one of the many unique and delicious food stands. Want to shop? Visit any or all of the awesome shops to stock up on festival gear, homemade items, clothes, hats, crystals, art- ANYTHING your little festie heart desires.

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The experience Suwannee Hulaween provides its faithful attendees is unprecedented.  The vibe and attitude of everyone was something I’ve never experienced before. While everyone was having their own version of fun and definitely partying, this wasn’t just a place to get wrecked and “rage.” There was a peace and understanding throughout the event. While jam bands played and funky tunes presided, people were friendly and respectful all weekend. Minus one incident involving a pantsless bandit who is now being blasted via social media. BUT BEYOND THAT, those who attended Suwannee Hulaween 2015 are a unique and amazing bunch. 

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Through music, art, peace and love, Suwannee Hulaween is a place where friendships are made and bonds are made stronger. Seriously looking forward to another amazing line up, and brand new art for 2016. Hope you enjoyed this Hulaween review.

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1 Comments on this post

  1. […] festival is one of a kind pure magic. I had the privilege of photographing it last year (click here to relive 2015) an I must insist on your participation at this years event. The music, the people […]

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