Suwanne, the flood of Happiness

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For the past four years, I’ve personally tried my hardest to make my way to Suwannee to attend Hulaween. Suwannee is one of the most magical places you’ll ever be able to go to. Unfortunately, things haven’t always gone my way, so I haven’t been able to make it. Well, little did I know, this year would be completely different! An amazing friend of mine hit me up asking if I’d like to cover the festival this year. Within seconds, I replied. I jumped so hard on the chance; I wasn’t letting this amazing place slip through my grasp again! So it was done. For the first time in four years, I’d finally be making my way to Hulaween, not just on my own, but with the most amazing group of people you’ll ever have the chance to encounter. As the days got closer and the time dwindle down, the excitement kept building and building, until the day was finally here. I headed in for my last day of work, rushed through it, met up with fam, and headed out.

 

We got to Suwannee grounds late Wednesday night. From the minute we entered, we were flooded with a rush of happiness. As we entered the staff was so on point guiding and directing everyone to the right area they needed to be at. Whether it was for will call or heading to the entrance if you already had your tickets. As we pulled up to the will call parking you could see the line already forming getting really long. Because of how amazing the staff was the line didn’t even matter we were in an out in no time. It was like a flash they were so well prepared and organized I was so stunned I’ve never gotten in an out that fast before. Afterwards we were guided into the entrance of the campgrounds from the minute you entered you were transported to the spirit of Suwannee flooded with its spirit. It filled you with such a loving, happy, caring vibe; it was indescribable. We found a prime spot next to the bat house, which luckily was a very short walk to the festival grounds and Spirit Lake. Since we were there the night before the festival started we were able to explore it before anyone else. As we were walking we noticed Spirit Lake getting the last minute touches being added. After this weekend I’ll forever call Suwannee home.

 

At first sight was the amphitheater which was a stage at the bottom of the hill where everyone would overlook the stage there wasn’t a spot you couldn’t see the stage. Not only was it one of my favorite stages but also it brought some of the best talent the weekend had to offer from Lettuce to manic focus and Run The Jewels. Once we passed that stage we made our way to vendor row to check out what type of food vendors and merch was going to be here for the weekend. From there we walked into the main stage area which was known as the meadow, at first sight I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor I was so stunned and speechless with how beautiful the main stage was. It was one of the most beautifully built stages I’ve ever witnessed at a festival. It was so massive it didn’t matter where you were you’d have a perfect view of the stage.

 

Waking up Thursday morning felt like a dream. The rest of fam bam had all shown up and once everyone was situated and unpacked at our new home for the weekend it was time to explore. We all got together and went off to explore for the first day. Whether you were getting lost in the festival or one of the amazing campgrounds. There was always something to do. With numerous campground stages for jam seshes or Spirit Lake you’d always find some amazing music wherever you’re at. Once we left camp we passed some of the coolest campsites I’ve ever seen one camp site had a giant blow up from Ghostbusters little did I know this was where Griz played his secret set. Another had a whole area blocked off with a stage in the center. Once passed all that you hit the first row of food vendors and merch vendors, after that you got to the entrance of the festival. The staff at the checkpoints were so nice and on point you’d get through it in no time. We had about five hours till the first set of the weekend that we all had been waiting for so long, which was Protohype. So for the time being we explored the rest of the grounds and got some food. Once it was time for Prototype we made our merry way to the rail of the spirit lake stage, which was place perfect. Just like the rest of the stages no matter where you were you had a great view of the stage. But boy did Prototype bring the hype!! He threw everything from riddim to heavy bass and dubstep it was mind blowing. Every which way you’d look there wasn’t a single soul or wook that wasn’t getting down. After his set he was so amazing he came down to talk to us and take photos with us, He’s such a genuine guy. Afterward we rushed over to the amphitheater where lettuce was just starting. Not only did they tear the house down, they brought the funk and groovy vibes! There was a vibe like no other at this set every which way you looked there was just pure happiness. After that we headed back to camp to bundle up cause the whole weekend the high was 70 degrees and then the low was 30 degrees the last night. I honestly was in a pure happiness cause I love the cold it was perfect! After relaxing for about an hour the sun had finally set and we were on our way to Umphrey’s McGee for there second set of the day.

 

We left camp started making our way to the patch. We ended up walking through Spirit Lake and find ourselves looking at all the amazing art installations. We finally made our way to the patch where Umphrey’s McGee, which was just starting by far one of my favorite sets the whole weekend. We were on the back left and all you could see was everybody in the crowd just getting down and grooving. One of the grooviest sets that I’ve ever seen, all you could see were people left, right, forward, and back just getting down. There were people everywhere spinning poi or just jumping around enjoying the music. This was my first time ever witnessing Umphrey’s McGee and they completely left me speechless. After that we had about a 20-minute to 30-minute delay break, until EOTO & friends. Now that was probably one of my favorite sets of the weekend it was pretty much a live dubstep band. My god did they leave me speechless, pretty much every set at this festival left me speechless but this one was by far one of my favorites.  You had the drummer playing live he was the main hypeman/singer, then you had the guitarist, and then the pianist/producer mixing everything live. It was just one of the greatest and coolest live sets that I’ve ever witness. We were front right for that; they just blew my mind with how amazing that set was. Right after that we went to get our spot for Liquid Stranger; we were about ten feet from the rail. Let me just start with WOW! That was one of the best Liquid Stranger sets I’ve ever seen. Not only did he throw so much new music and new Collabs. He dropped some of the best bass music I’ve ever heard to date! Words couldn’t describe how amazing his set was. To top this speechless set he ends it with a couple minutes of probably the best & greatest drum and bass I’ve ever heard of. I’ve never ever witnessed anything like this before, this drum and bass was mind blowing. It absolutely made my night, for sure too 3 sets of the weekend. After that we made our way back to camp and pretty much called it for the night. When I woke up Friday morning I made my way to the festival grounds to get some breakfast. As I’m walking through all the vendors I was so blown away, by how amazing some of these vendors are. The food, oh my Lord. The food was probably the best food I’ve ever had in my life. Everything from the Indian food all the way to the vegan food had my mouth watering me. I was speechless just like with everything else in this festival. After that made I my way to the Spirit Lake stage to go see Michael Menert. I’ve been listening to his music for over two years now and it was everything I expected and hoped for. Again words can’t describe how amazing the set was. He had a full band from drummer to trumpets and his M.C. was in a pizza costume that was just perfect. He also came up to sing a couple songs. One of the coolest sets to had gone down at Hula. So much going was going on around the stage from performers that weren’t just flowing with one hoop or two but some were flowing with 3-4 hoops at a time by far one of the coolest performers I’ve seen. After that set, we set off for some exploration of Spirit Lake. Finding some of the coolest art installations and the festival a little bit more. Checking out the different vendors all the way from grassroots to the higher taste food vendor. To some vendors I’ve never heard of before. As we made our way to Big Wild I had started remembering about the last time I saw Big Wild, which was at Okeechobee of 2016. I can easily remember it being a breathtaking set. But I can easily say that this set blew that set out of the water. Big Wild not only brought the bass, he brought everything you could think of. It was one of the most beautiful sets I’ve ever witnessed. After Big Wild we made our way to The String Cheese Incident at the Meadows. It was my first time seeing them. They left blew my mind, not only did they bring the funk but they brought everything you could think of into their sets playing six times over the weekend it was nothing short of magical each set was totally different, I was so in love. After that we made our way back to the amphitheater. Where manic focus was playing but not just by himself, they had Russ liquid on the trumpet as well. The whole set was funky, wonky, and groovy as you could just imagine. Then thinking to myself how could this set get any more better? They brought out break science to recreate manic science which hadn’t played a set in over two years and what makes it so much better was they played on the same stage that they did the last time they played together. After that set I’m think how much better can this get? Well it did the night ended with two amazing sets starting with RL Grime, he dropped a whole new Halloween set. Which was just straight GAS!! Then from there I ran my little hippie butt, all the way to the main stage to catch the opening for Bassnectar. Bassnectar left me speechless as always! It was absolutely amazing seeing him throw down and blow everyone’s minds, especially since it was his first time EVER playing at hula. After the set we waddled our way back to camp, questioning what we had just witnessed? It was mind-boggling. From camp we just went on some adventuring. We met “sharkguin”. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s a penguin with a shark head he was such a cool person he made the weekend for me.  After this night I had pretty much made my way thru all of hula and mostly memorized the whole festival grounds, which was amazing for me because I was able to get everywhere and anywhere. People started calling me “the flash” because of how fast I could move thru the festival grounds it was great.

Saturday morning was kind of weird a little. I had woken up in a chair in the middle of camp not really sure when I passed out but it was the best nights sleep I had all weekend from sleeping in a car most the festival because of how cold it got at night. Everyone one got up one by one and got ready for the day. Today was going to be a chill day there were plenty of amazing acts ranging from FKJ to Run The Jewels to finishing the day with Damian Marley. An act I’ve been chasing ever since I was a kid. Once everyone was up an about we made our way to the festival. Myself being the hungry little heady monster I am ran to get food before anything else like always. The first set that we made our way to was FKJ at the amphitheater. Again another unbelievable set by an amazing artist we made our way to the front to entertain this high energy set. After we decided to explore some more till beats antique which again another mind-blowing set. My first time ever seeing them and all I can say is WOW! Being at the patch was the perfect stage for them it was nothing but amazing vibes everywhere you looked. Then made our way back to the Meadow for another String Cheese set which was completely different from the first two sets I had have already seen by them. We left the set a little early to go bundle up cause again it was cold out! From there we made our way to Run The Jewels. These three amazing guys put on hell of a show all you could see was the crowd jumping up and down from enjoyment of the set. After that we found our way next to the “A” of HULA for Damian Marley’s set. Like I said I’ve been chasing a set from one of the Marley’s ever since I was a little kid. Man did him and his band not disappoint, it was probably one of my top 3 sets of the whole weekend. He closed the main stage out on Saturday night ending the day with amazing feels and vibes. Afterwards we all found our way back to camp an hung out by a camp fire, which kept everyone warm till it was time to go exploring again. Around 2:30am we had left camp to make our to spirit lake for a silent disco. The line took about 30-40 minutes to get into the silent disco but it was so worth it because Eazybaked was playing and not only did they throw some new bass but they slayed a whole entire unexpecting crowd with so much new music. It was so worth the wait! One of the best silent discos I’ve ever been to. Then after there set was an artist named Sodown. He was wearing a nun’s outfit and just destroyed his set! After that we were walking around Spirit Lake, I heard some crazy music coming from this area surround by aliens. To come to find Found a monk playing some of the deepest bass music I’ve ever heard. Out of a suitcase with someone free styling next to him. One of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed at a festival. After that it was about five in the morning and everyone was pooped out. We had one last amazing day left l, so we went back to get some sleep for the last day. Being the spunion I am, I slept in my car for majority of the festival it was quite nice. When I woke up the next morning with everyone we all got ready to explore for our last day. Once we were all up we headed out on a glorious adventure. From the moment we left camp till the first set of the day we had just been finding all types of music whether it was from a campsite or a pop up set we were never short of music. Around two in the afternoon we made our way to the amphitheater, where stick figure was playing we got down and sticky figured our way into the crowd. Another first time set for myself and it wasn’t anything short of amazing!! The vibes this stage let’s off plus the artist just made for a magical moment. After that I pulled a “flash” moment and ran to the patch for Keys N Krates. Its been almost three years since I last saw these amazing musicians and even with one of the guys keyboarding breaking mid set they threw down everything you could think of and gave there audience and unforgettable set they weren’t letting anything stop them! After that e had a short break in between sets and the one and only Space Jesus which had his set moved from early in the day Friday to Sunday just threw down mayhem he dropped everything from space jam to a remix of Bassnectar’s bass head to collars with digital ethos. All you could see were wooks and people alike head banging and going ape sh*t for him! Just like every set over the weekend it was the best set I’ve ever witnessed by him! After his set we all went and relaxed for lotus. I was able to get my hammock so high up, I could see the stage from all the way in the back with fam in front of me just relaxing enjoying the music and flowing about with poi. We ended up leaving the set a little early to make our way to the meadow where somehow we found our way all 15-20 of us to the rail for Griz. Let me tell you how this Glorious man opened with just him and his saxophone. I was in tears it was so magical he threw down everything from funky town to Michael Jackson to all my friends and good times. Also, he let everyone experience so much New and unreleased music it was magnificent. Not going to lie I cried a little during his set cause looking around I could see all the most important people in my life right there as he was singing “all my friends”. The set ended in such a way it was hands down the set of the weekend for not just myself but also many people. After the set it was or last night to explore so we headed back to camp to sing one of our best friends happy birthday, just to find out Space Jesus was doing a secret set at the Incindia stage. That was nothing short of just straight FIRE music. Literally fire! The stage had three spot where it shot flames into the sky warming every wook up in the freezing cold night! I found myself in a monkey onesie and was the happiest little monkey running around the last night.

For my first time ever being at Suwannee and finally being able to experience hula for the first time since I’ve started trying to go for years ago. I can proudly say HULAWEEN is by far my favorite festival ever anyone you ask will tell you it’s the Electric Forrest of Florida! With how well put together it was you wouldn’t find one thing wrong everyone was so friendly and loving I can’t wait to be back next year exploring spirit lake again!

 

 

 

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