One of the things we pride ourselves on here at The Florida Basement, dear reader, is our focus on locality. Every single one of our staff members has been affiliated with the University of Florida here in Gainesville in some capacity or another. All of us have lived here in Gainesville at some point in our lives or are currently living here in Gainesville now. Whereas music is a universal tongue, we are obsessed with understanding Gainesville’s musical “accent.”
Suwannee Hulaween is not in Gainesville. It is located roughly 70 miles north of our humble ‘ville. However the festival is arguably the largest of it’s kind within a reasonable distance. Therefore, it is safe to say that this festival is our “home” festival. While The Fest is awesome, it is very narrow in it’s genre. It’s also hosted downtown and requires you to sacrifice that traditional “music festival” feeling. Suwannee Hulaween (henceforth “Hulaween”) remedies that. Festival-goers are encouraged to camp on festival grounds for the entirety of the weekend. The musical talent is paralleled only by it’s diversity: there is a lot of good talent coming to Hulaween this year. They cover a variety of backgrounds too, ranging from indie folk to deep electronic realms. Moreover, countless activities are going on at all hours. To truly highlight locality, Hulaween will be showcasing visual and performing artists from all over North Central Florida. For these reasons Hulaween is truly an intense, rich, and vivid demonstration of power in terms of festival culture, and is inherently reflective of that Gainesville “accent” I mentioned before.
This year the festival will have five stages total, and two areas for silent disco. In terms of musical talent to be stacked on those stages, the line-up leaves little room for wanting. The String Cheese Incident is headlining the entirety of the event, playing multiple sets on multiple stages over the course of multiple nights. Perhaps one of the most innovative jam bands in our time, TSCI is all too reminiscent of The Grateful Dead. They mix a variety of musical elements over long and winding songs, winning over audiences. Of familiar vein, a personal favorite of mine will be attending: My Morning Jacket. I am a fan of Jim James perfectly lonesome hums, and the bands charming southern sound. Together they create an atmosphere that is warm, enticing, introspective, and beautifully expressive.
What’s key to a good festival though? Diversity. If those two good ‘ol fashioned bands aren’t enough for you, Disclosure and Logic are also headlining. I don’t feel like they need an explanation, but for those of you who are on the fence about checking out their sets, know these facts: Disclosure is a Grammy winning house duo. They have over 1.3 million followers on Soundcloud and are extremely collaborative in nature. Meaning, they are fluid in terms of what to expect. They root themselves comfortably in deep house, R&B, and synthpop. Logic is a rapper from Maryland who has over 115k Soundcloud followers. In 2010, Logic claimed fame with his new mixtape which was appropriately followed by collaborations with Juicy J Juicy J, G Eazy, Yo Gotti, and Pusha T. He’s a go-getter, and his twisting rap lyrics show this. These four bands alone are impressive enough to warrant music fans from all over the southeast U.S. to visit Suwannee.
The non-headliners are even more impressive. Gramatik has over 475k Soundcloud followers and incorporates brass instruments (sax and trumpet included) into an electro-funk-hop base. Are you into reggae-rock? Modern reggae-rock genre pillar Rebelution are going to be in attendance. If you’re a fan of Portlandia, you can check out Washed Out’s set. Washed Out is the band that wrote “Feel It All Around," which is the theme song you can’t help but fuckin’ bump to at the beginning of every episode.
If you’re so inclined, a silent disco runs every morning from 1 AM to either 5 or 6 AM. There are two different set-ups for the disco, meaning double the disco and double the silence. There is no excuse to not be listening to amazing music all day and all night, dear reader. Hulaween is there for you even at the oddest hours.
Don’t worry Gainesville, we’re represented there too. Amazing Motown-rock band The Savants of Soul, who’ve been playing all around Gainesville for the last few years, will have their time to shine on stage at Hulaween. The grooving electronic duo formally known as Bells & Robes, who were founded here in Gainesville, will be gracing a stage as well. The Savants of Soul are currently on the Swamp Records roster, and Bells & Robes used to be.
In terms of non-musically affiliated events, there’s plenty to do. A variety of dance, meditation, and yoga classes are offered all day. Glancing at the schedule, I even see acro-plays, slacklining, a kava ceremony, and an “edible and medicinal plant walk” if dancing, yoga, and/or meditating doesn’t tickle your fancy.
No music festival is complete without a nod to the local art scene. Luckily for Hulaween, our art scene is thriving. Art instillations will be spread across the venue, illuminated by dazzling lights. An amalgam of performance art pieces will be available to view at your leisure, and if you see the activites section, some of those artists will even be giving lessons in their respective crafts.
Overall, Suwannee Hulaween is something to get excited about. The musical acts coming are as talented as they are diverse. They cover a wide set of genres for all to enjoy and explore and bring artists who are true masters of their craft in said genres. Moreover, different types of activities and events will be going on, all with a backdrop that features local art. Such festivals like this don’t come often, and really allow places like Gainesville to show off.
Oh, and did I mention the entire festival is Halloween themed?