The String Cheese Incident @ Suwannee Hulaween, Live Oak Florida 10/31/2014 – 11/02/2014
Did you make the very best of your Halloween experience? I know that I surely did, what better place to be than at one of the most amazing outdoor venues in the country with one of the top notch jam bands of today, The String Cheese Incident. The festival had a lot to offer to music lovers of all kinds with other varieties of musical acts. Suwannee Hulaween produced a weekend packed with high energy, Halloween shenanigans, theatrics, solid tunes, and clear skies. It was great weather all weekend day and night, which was amazing considering the cold front that took hold of the east coast on Saturday and Sunday evening.
The String Cheese Incident started the weekend off right with a “Friday The 13th Jam” > Restless Wind sing along. The rest of the first set was full of crowd pleasers including an older tune by Michael Kang, Give Me The Love. This Halloween middle set was a next level performance full of classic songs and special guests Rhonda Thomas & Tony White on backup vocals, and horn players from Antibalas for the second and third sets. The second set opened with The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil and went into Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme. They slowed things down a bit with a Bob Marley original Time Will Tell. With Live And Let Die on its heels and after the only Nershi original Just Passin’ Thru, the band was really heating up. An unexpected Stairway To Heaven sounded its way through the instruments with Rhonda Thomas on vocals for the songs entirety. The band continued to cover classics playing Don’t Fear The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult) > Break On Through (The Doors) and continued to dazzle the fans. Heaven, originally written by the Talking Heads and sang by Kyle during the show really brought things back down to Earth as the band went back into a reprise of Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney And The Wings. To close out the festive second set, the band performed an outstanding and well thought out Thriller by Michael Jackson with a complete theatrical performance. The third and final set of the evening began with a big Miss Brown’s Teahouse, and then a Kool & The Gang tune Hollywood Swinging which fans may remember from SCI’s performance at this years Lock’n Festival. The band was on fire by the end of the 3rd set and continued with a fun version of Fela Kuti’s Zombie sandwiched inside a groovy Rosie, followed by a Way Back Home > Just One Story and ended with a great rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.
The 2nd night of String Cheese Incident was truly one for the books.The special guests which included Keller Williams, Nicky Sanders from Steep Canyon Rangers, and Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic were a great addition for the nights musical performance. The band began the night with Search > Lost > Mouna Bowa which assured the fans it would be a memorable Incident. Nicky Sanders joined the boys on stage to create a grassy version of Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance by Rusty Wier. SCI was heated during an unexpected bust out Resume Man joined by guests Keller Williams and Nicky Sanders. Keller Williams made his way back to stage for an incredible KW original Alligator Alley and following it with a spectacular version of Franklin’s Tower by the Grateful Dead. The second set was a great display of the bands versatility playing all over the place. Dominic Lalli made his appearance during a fantastic Birdland > Flying East Jam > Birdland, playing at the top of his game.
After two incredible nights of music, the band had in store for the fans an enlightening and special Sunday show. Hitting a groove after the entire weekend and gearing up for the upcoming tour the band played one that’d leave you wanting more. There was a rumor floating around that Michael Kang was sick and would not be able to sing for the night. The band dispelled this rumor with ease, proving that it would not affect their final performance.
Opening with Sometimes A River is an automatic that it’s gonna be one to remember. Later in the set the band played a fantastic version of MLT, a Kyle Hollingsworth original. The end of the first set would consist of a well done ‘Round The Wheel with some old school jamming by Kang. The entirety of the 2nd set was a highlight for me. Kyle’s Colliding > Late In The Evening with Michael Travis singing would start the party off right, including a rare vocal jam in Late In The Evening. On The Road was a highlight of the show, with fast rhythms and interesting improvs. The band closed the weekend out with a Texas encore, a personal favorite of mine.
It was a cold Sunday night after the show but all in attendance were musically satisfied and ready to head home or to the next show. The String Cheese Incident had played a well thought out and unexpected weekend full of amazing theatrics and musical talent. Suwannee Hulaween was a success for those able to attend and was truly a life changing experience for me. See you all at the next show! “Got no worries, get in the car and roll!”
Review by Corey Graham
Photos by Natalia Samman