Halloween is arguably one of the best holidays of the year. Now that our youthful time of trick-or-treating in the neighborhood has come to the end of its appropriate lifecycle, we look forward to a new type of treat with tricks: the Halloween live music event. This year, 1/4th of Sparkleberry Lane had its sights set on the mothership, AKA the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virgina. Hulaween with the String Cheese Incident was about to take off. This would be the band’s first Hulaween show since 2004, and other epic venues for Hulaween have included the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas (2003), The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles (2002), and the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta (’97, ’98). 2010 marked the return of Hulaween to the space-ship like venue where Phish reunited in 2009.
Of course, being so overcome with excitement, we left costume and treat making until the last minute; after two days of frantic sequin and quilt sewing, a full night of driving on no sleep (anyone ever tried SPIKE energy drink?), and a few hours nap in a Newport News campground, we were finally on lot setting up the Lane. As we began to unpack the car happy souls approached from every direction. The String Cheese crowd is unique and beautiful, drawing bodies from all over the country, all ages and all races. The tailgate vibe was peaceful, carefree, and above all, jovial. Our theory is that Cheese’s lot scene is less “intense” than other lots because Cheese plays fewer shows each year. Every fan on lot is almost 100% there for the music, and they are that much more excited because the brilliance of the Incident is only exposed a few times a year; this means less shady tour kids and fewer lost minds, with more loving fans ready to get
As the sun set on the lot, we made our way into the mothership. BONUS: Cheese fans were allowed anywhere in the coliseum, including the floor! No sectional hierarchy here! To our Sparkleberry delight, the Biscuits had been invited to open Hulaween. The HOPEner was bitter sweet, it being a fantastic song but one that Josh Coyle had been chasing for many shows and wasn’t there to share with us! We love you Josh! Astronaut >Spacebirdmatingcall >Astronaut had us ready for blastoff. Little Shimmy got our feet moving and the Bisco classic Basis for a Day ended their short but super sweet set. Biscuits and Cheese never tasted so good together!
And THEN, it was time for the main event. The String Cheese Incident started the night off with “Best Feeling,” the warm welcome we were all waiting for. The energy was high, and Cheese invited all members from the audience onboard its Hampton space ship with no turning back. The jams weaved in and out of almost every genre from jazz to rock and Latin to reggae. SCI’s sound is like no other jam band you’ve heard: Michael Kang rocks on mandolin and violin for the signature bluegrass sound, while Michael Travis and Jason Hann, the drummers/percussionists (who also happen to form the dubstep jam group EOTO) keep the beat going nonstop into “Texas.” All the members work together beautifully, and one could easily think they are having more fun up there than the fans on the floor. Cheese also had one of the most subtly beautiful, ambiance-creating visual shows I’ve ever seen. A kaleidoscope of colors flashing across large panels above the band set the mood in the coliseum, mesmerizing us with volcanic reds and cooling us off with seas of blue bliss. Set one was filled with SCI classics like “Yo Se” and a Liza Jane in between “Miss Brown’s Teahouse.”
By the time second set rolled around Sava and I might have collaboratively said “Oh my God, Cheese is SO good!” a thousand times; and yes, we were CHEESIN! Set two began with “Song in My Head,” and we began to do-si-do. The urge to do-si-do is overwhelming at a SCI show- you all know you wanted to swing your partner round the corner! “Joyful sound” was a highlight of the set; for everyone who was there or for those who at least know the song…all I’ve got to say is…. “Wa– Na Na –Na Na!” “Joyful Sound” grooved perfectly into an EOTO Jam, which was a tease for the Norva after party that night. Who knew EOTO’s funkadelic and lasery dubstep sounds could mesh so well with bluegrass. “Gotta love that grasstronica!” After the space-jam, the band took us right back to their roots and played “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” providing a high energy bluegrass jam for all those who danced. The Jellyfish encore was both a sight and sound spectacle, complete with beautiful, long-tentacled jellyfish images drifting from panel to panel elegantly across a bubbly blue filled coliseum. Sava and I (dressed as a mermaid) swam through the crowd singing “My brain is just a jellyfish in the ocean of my head!” Even after the epic Jellyfish encore, SCI had one last surprise in store. Before we knew what hit us, Michael Travis ran out in a blonde wig and 80’s spandex suit for an epic rendition of Van Halen’s “JUMP”. It was hilarious and awesome and so String Cheese playfulness.
Night two was upon us almost before night one ended. You better believe Sparkleberry Lane brought the spooky jams to lot! While fairies and goblins giggled in corners and avatars and ghost busters frolicked to “Thriller” and “Monster Mash,” Sava and I helped our new friends ice their sparkleberry brownies with
Halloween sprinkles and love. Special shout out to the van/boat crew and the Halloween jesters who mad our parking space that much more interesting! You guys rock! Check out our pictures for the most epic sunset behind the spaceship we have ever seen, signaling the good night ahead. Props to SCI crowd for the funniest and best costumes ever; live music in costume is definitely one of my favorite things. Some costumes that stick out in my mind are the hula hooping purple giant, jellyfish swimming around everywhere, avatar princesses, the Cyclopes, and of course, the Jesters!
The second evening started off right with “Come As You Are.” Funktified? I think so. The bass jam in that song was so heady it had everyone bouncing around the room like little cheesey boppers. Rain was another winner of the first set, that was rounded out by a by Pink Floyd cover, “Breathe,” bringing us all a little closer together. I’m pretty sure I cried as everyone softly sang “Run! Rabbit, Run.” The “Rivertrance” had me feeling like I was on a spaceship to Ireland, followed by a sweet sounding “Las Vegas” which ended the set. We were promised a super special Halloween second set, and we went out for our cig breaks with huge grins on our faces. Again the cheese crowd is probably the happiest crowd to be in which made set break that much better! Mad respect, especially to all y’all who got down with me on what appeared to be ice luges within the Hampton’s architecture!
The familiar sounds of “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” had us rushing back into the spaceship and boy did we feel fine. “Fly Like An Eagle” followed it and da doop do doo doo- turned into “Maybe I was born on the wrong planet!” Considering we weren’t on planet Earth, this was quite appropriate. “Mothership Connection” continued the groove, with special guest appearances from Keller Williams and Liza Oxnard from Colorado singing her soulful heart out. Liza participated throughout the set, bringing a sultry sound to the Cheese. The special Halloween set consisted mostly of covers, which SCI is known to do quite well. “Mothership” went into “Space Cowboy”, and then to a superfly “Groove Is In The Heart.” “21st Century Schizoid Man” originally from King Crimson fit the mood of the night perfectly.
The end of set two shifted into high gear with the song “Major Tom (Coming Home)” and Tron visuals in the background. This segued into “Planet Claire”, back into “Major Tom”, and back into “End of the World”! What a set!
The third set was pure String Cheese jam, our favorite being “Bumpin’ Reel;” the drums on that track had us all shaking in our boots! Glowstick wars were raging from every angle of the room as the beautiful melodies flowed freely. Drifting > into a special Halloween Michael Myers theme > MLT > epic Drum jam > Desert Dawn ended the third and last set of Hulaween. The encore was a bittersweet goodbye, a two-song treat: “Search” and a SCI classic, “Howard”. Perfect timing for my phone to light up with happy text from my new friend Oliver declaring his delight at the “Howard” closer. We were certainly all on cloud 9 together 😀
The Incident is something you have to experience to believe. The diversity behind the magic of their mystical music can put you anywhere on earth that you wish to be, with the best friends you could have. By the time the Hulaween run was over, us and tons of other attendees had been converted into proud Cheese heads. Let us be grateful for the experience, the new friends, and some of the best music ever on Hallow’s eve. THANK YOU CHEESE!
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