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Hulaween 2018- Live Oak, FL

Hulaween 2018

This year, Hulaween was peppered with familiarity with new sensations, experiences, and unforeseen joys. New mix of travelers with me, a very different lineup, new art installations, and fun surprises. Off the top of my head, Mavis Staples may be a top musical experience of the year. The rest of the music was fantastic and diverse including MMW, Lettuce, Turkuaz, STS9, Stephen Marley, and of course String Cheese Incident.

Once everyone was onsite, we coordinated and moved folk to a cozy camping spot nestled among the RVs. The neighbors proved noisy late night. Something about speakers on the ground aimed at our tent prevented a good sleep. It was the first time I asked someone to turn down music. It was also the first time I was startled awake because of it. Actually, it proved quieter at their site because of the speaker placement. They were very happy to adjust the music especially when I explained that the lady was sick.

Janelle Monae hulaween 2018

Sick at a fest sucks. Now that I think of it, someone with us was sick last year as well. One saving grace was the warm weather. Spending Saturday in bed helped rally her spirit for her most anticipated act of the weekend, Janelle Monáe. I’m sure I hadn’t heard of her but loved it. Pop with a good message sounds like what the world needs. On a meta-level, it was fun to hear an act that was unfamiliar with the festival/ tour scene. Taking a highly choreographed act to a place nobody lives and saying, “Hello Florida” was fun for me. I don’t think ill of it but was struck by some ways the jamband scene is unique. Very little conversation from the band, no pandering to the localities, no assumption people in the crowd live nearby, etc. All in, many people did come just for this act and the show was great. Costumes, lights, and props designed for each song. I’m remembering now that at one point she put on a guitar that she didn’t play.

More specifically, she was great for the theme of the weekend. SCI dedicated their Saturday night set to the divine feminine and featured covers of songs that feature strong female leads and they brought on a cast of amazing vocalists. A perfect conversation for this year and I happened to be traveling with some very powerful women.

Hulaween is quickly becoming my favorite festival of the year. I’m still learning how to do it effectively. The sober camping may be the quietest although I’m tempted to explore the family area as well. Getting in is easy (despite a clueless and unhelpful staff), the stages are accessible, and the food options are great. Now that I’ve sold my sister on the festival, she can drive in with her full glamping setup. She brought us a tent and air mattress which made the flight much easier.

The lack of jambands on the bill coupled with Phish in Vegas a few days after Hula kept many of my tour friends away. This was perfect for deepening time and connection with those I brought with me.

I’m ready to buy tickets for next year and hope to see you there too.

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