The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park hosted over 21,000 people this weekend for Suwannee Hulaween, marking the largest gathering ever at the park for a music festival. The attendance, which is about triple what Hulaween did last year, was special for us to witness having covered smaller festivals like AURA, Purple Hatters, Bear Creek, and even Wanee in past years.
For anyone who follows this blog, or knows us personally, you know how much the Suwannee means to us. It’s our spiritual home, and site of so many great memories. The park has undoubtably shaped who we are as individuals in a big way. When the lineup for Hulaween 2015 was announced, we knew it was going to be special. The roster of artists was huge with names like Pretty Lights, Chance the Rapper, Primus, and Odesza, and the hype started to build quickly.
By the time the Wednesday night before the festival rolled around, we thought we had a good idea of what were in for, but nothing could truly prep us for how special it was about to be. Tons of friends were coming from all over the country, and rumors of massive attendance were running rampant. We secured a great spot for us and our friends to all camp together, as many of the people we were looking forward to seeing are folks we only see 1-2 times a year.
I tell you this not because I think it’s any sort of unique angle, but more because I think it’s not a unique angle. The vibe of the festival, like many, was one of unity and togetherness – a ‘family gathering’ many called it. That’s great, and relatively common, but for Suwannee Hulaween, the family gathering was upscaled. Not just for us, but for the whole festival.
Everyone that I ran into this weekend had the same story. “There are so many friends here!” “We’re camped with like 25 homies!” etc. etc. It’s important to remember that Suwannee Hulaween wasn’t just the biggest festival Suwannee has held, but the largest jam festival Florida that my generation has ever seen.
While the people came correct with the energy, other elements fell into place as well. The String Cheese Incident crushed their 7 sets, including the special Ghoul Train Halloween set that included covers of James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Sly & the Family Stone, and many others. Pretty Lights, Odesza, Primus, and Chance the Rapper brought their A-game for their debut sets at Suwannee, a venue that’s been notorious for bringing out the best of many bands.
On top of that, nature was on our side too. While last year brought freezing temperatures, this year was literally perfect. A little cool at night, and a little warm during the day, with the majority of time falling in the perfect Florida fall range. The moon was massive at the beginning of the festival, but by the last night had dwindled slightly, allowing the stars to shine a little brighter.
Of course, the Suwannee’s camping accommodations are nothing short of perfect when compared to other festivals. It was a perfect, little ‘Shantytown’ we had going on there this past weekend, and the neighborly vibes flowed around the park almost exclusively.
I saw so many friends this past weekend that I’m still reeling from their energy. Even once “until next time” was said, the overwhelming feeling was one of happiness. Bigger isn’t always better, but in the case of Hulaween 2015, the large gathering meant more friends and more energy than the park has ever seen. Pretty Lights’ record-breaking crowd was a testament to that, and we can’t wait to see how they try and top themselves next year.