Suwannee Hulaween sold out, but kept true to the park’s deep roots

Over the years, the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park has hosted many great festivals, but have any of them sold out? I don’t believe so, however this year’s Hulaween did. It was announced well before the festival’s gates opened that the park was going to hit capacity, and no more tickets would be sold.

It sounds kind of scary for the park’s regulars who have cut their teeth attending boutique festivals like Purple Hatters Ball, Bear Creek, Magnolia Fest, etc. Luckily the organizers, staff, and park itself did an amazing job of catering to the 20,000 attendees who came to see String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Umphrey’s McGee, RL Grime, Nick Murphy, Ween, and many more.

For starters, it’s probably important to address some of the initial concerns that were had when Bassnectar was announced as a headliner. Comments, even on Nectar’s social media, displayed skepticism of his crowd’s ability to respectfully attend the park, a place that is extremely special to very many people. As far as I saw, the Bassnectar faithful were entirely respectful and plugged into the park’s laid back vibe, many of them coming for the first time and wearing many wrist bands of other events he’s played and hosted over the years.

I hadn’t seen Bassnectar in years, but saw him pretty frequently for a couple years before that. His show is still as impressive and punishing as ever, delivering multiple levels of bone-rattling bass and mashing up production styles of hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, trap, dubstep, etc. His Friday night set would prove to be as special as possible for those who have been dreaming of the day he’d finally make his Suwannee debut.

In short form, some of the other musical highlights were…

The Thursday pre-party had the schedule of non-overlapping Umphrey’s, JRAD, Umphrey’s, JRAD, Greensky Bluegrass sets, bringing 3 of the hottest and in-their-prime jam bands to produce an incredible night of music.

Benevento/Russo Duo invited Mike Gordon to sit in on “Scratchitti“.

Kamasi Washington delivering the stellar day-time jazz, and I finally heard “Truth” performed live for the first time.

Nick Murphy proving to be a modern-day Nick Cave with his massive Saturday evening Amphitheater set.

String Cheese Incident spreading the love with their big themed set.

Disco Biscuits shredding their late-night slot on the Patch Stage.

Portugal The Man totally played like a jam band too, and they were tight and it was super awesome.

The list goes on and on, but it’s really not just about the music at Suwannee. It’s about the Spirit Lake, the people, the vibe that lives in those mossy woods. It’s the most beautiful place we’ve ever been, and why we continue to go back each year. We’re tipping our hat to Suwannee Hulaween for another great year, and can’t wait for the next one!