Reliving Hulaween 2019 Virtually

After the 2018 marathon at Hulaween, I was very pleased to be included as press for Hulaween 2019.  I was just coming off a medical procedure and got approval to travel on Thursday, festival day.  So I was super anxious to get onsite in time to catch the bands I had planned for at the Campground Stage.  Although this year’s plan was less aggressive than the prior, I’m happy with the results shown in festival order.

Thursday, October 24

Electric Kif, 7:00 – 8:15 Campground Stage: EK was first in my lineup and high on my list, having just released their stellar album “Jefe” the month prior to the festival. This Miami band has been on my radar for a few years and are reminiscent of Weather Report or Herbie Hancock, two bands which in fact they do cover. In this set they played six of the new album songs and hit “Hang Up Your Hangups.”  Killer!

Space Kadet, 9:15 – 10:30 Campground Stage: Space Kadet out of Atlanta play a mix of electronic funk, dub, and drum and bass.  My friends Rohan, Thomas and Bambi absolutely threw down on this night and it was great to see them at a major festival. I knew in advance to stay put and catch them!

Polyrhythmics, 11:30 – 1:00 am Campground Stage:  Every year at Hulaween there’s that one band that you’ve heard of but never seen, and are super interested to check out. Polyrhythmics was that band for me and they surpassed my high expectations. This set which featured several tracks from their upcoming 2020 release, “Man From the Future” was absolutely the highlight of the fest and it came early.

Here’s a short segment of what I said in my review of that album, “The group was started by Ben Bloom (Guitar) and Grant Schroff, (Drums) and originally drew heavily on Afro-beat from such notables as Fela Kuti and The Budos Band. Since then, they’ve broadened their style tremendously to incorporate aspects of funk, soul, psychedelic rock, R&B and progressive jazz. I also hear some bits of Lettuce for the funk in the mix and even a bit of Lotus for the electronica aspect. The group is in a class of its own with its mix of multiple music styles — Afro-funktronica?”

Friday, October 25

The Motet, 3:30 – 4:30 The Meadow: This Denver-based band is a staple on the funk scene and I’ve been following for about 15 years.  Their sets are always tight. They played several songs from their 2019 release “Death or Devotion” as well as reaching back with instrumentals from their earlier releases. Frontman vocalist Lyle Divinsky is one of the best in the business and their band is rock solid.

Lettuce, 5:30 – 6:45, The Meadow: Lettuce are the universal masters of funk, the embodiment of all funk bands before them, including Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown, and Tower of Power.  But they have established their own deep funk sound all on their own. It’s so great to see them on the big stage and this set featured songs from their just released, Grammy-nominated album “Elevate” (Purple Cabbage, Royal Highness, Trapezoid, Everybody Wants to Rule the World) and their upcoming release “Resonate” (Moksha, House of Lett).

Break Science Live Band, 10:00 – 11:15 Spirit Lake: You may know Break Science as the EDM collaboration of Adam Deitch (Lettuce) and Borahm Lee.  That duo alone will get your pulse up and your feet on the dancefloor.  Mix in the Live Band version with members of Lettuce and it’s unstoppable.  I got turned on to them at Hula 2018 and knew that I needed to capture this full set!

Saturday, October 26

Anderson.Paak & The Free Nationals, 12:15 – 1:45 am The Meadow: Anderson.Paak — another band I was only familiar with by name — was recommended to me by my good friend Bee Getz, of The Upful Life podcast. That, plus the Saturday closing slot on The Meadow stage mad this a lock to be the event of the festival.  The show totally lived up to the hype.  I was totally taken by the talent of Paak and The Free Nationals.  It was great music, showmanship and the lighting and effects were top shelf.  I became a fanboy in short order and then got to catch them three weeks later at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta!

Sunday, October 27

Ripe, 4:45 – 5:45, Spirit Lake: To close out the festival there was no other choice but Ripe, an infectious funk pop band out of Boston.  They have great tunes, a tight rhythm and horn section and a terrific front man in Robbie Wulfsohn. I was lucky enough to catch them twice before including a set at a small Atlanta club, The Loft.  Then it was great to see them for the fourth time back in January 2020 on the bigger Variety Playhouse stage. This set was another super high energy dance fest and a great way to close out another great Hula.

That’s a wrap for 2019.  As you know, the festival was cancelled this year since it’s unsafe and unwise to proceed otherwise.  We all miss live music tremendously, nobody more than me! Let’s all do our part to accelerate the recovery so we can be back on track for another fantastic festival in 2021.