Purple Hatter’s Ball 2017: Magnifying Love and Creative Flow
It was a rainy, summer day, and the drive was easy breezy. Shout out to The Country Store for having an air compressor for our floaties and air mattresses and also to the lady who helped me drag my queen to the top of my car. That was a camp trek, my friends. Check your supply lists twice. After setting up camp and almost sweating our skin off, we crept our way to the river to cool down. When we got there, four millennials were slapping the bag while yelling in unison, "Chicken pot pie! Chicken pot pie! Chicken pot pie!"
DubConscious brought jungle vibes on the Amphitheatre stage despite the Florida heat. Frontman Adrian Zelski spoke of The Legion of Bloom, drummer Matthew Woolley's marijuana business. Zelski then announced, "The cannabis business is popping through all of this political turmoil."
Most of the bands this weekend I had never had the satisfaction of seeing until now. Catfish Alliance was one of those groups. Lead vocalist Big E proclaimed, "I thought I couldn't feel again and here I am feeling so much."
Not only do they destroy the art of "sex rock" but frontman Big E, aka Sex Manatee, is a show of his own. At one point he caught my friend snapchatting him, and he blew her a kiss then licked all over his hand.
The funk freaks were grinding. It was a club out in the middle of the forest. Dripping in sweat, the beats bounced off of everyone's skin. Russell Scott, songwriter/producer, reported the weather with a, "Yo it's hot out here."
Smooth woozy beats mixed in with a pump of electric guitar. They range from funk to electronic to islandy. As a new song broke out, everyone was on their funkin knees. This is a festival group I've been meaning to see and I highly recommend; they left us on a mind-blowing, rock banger.
I think I have finally perfected the art of finding a good camp spot in SOSMP. Be on the look out for my book (totally kidding). This camp spot was right underneath the trees where it was damp and the sun could be blocked all day. In the distance, a bugle horn was blasted to awaken all of the forest dwellers. Our camp neighbors helped open our pickle jar as the guy spilled juice all over him and shocked us with, "Well... actually... this isn't the first time that this has happened to me today."
Albert Simpson's rock sounds were vibrating on the water as the mass of people cooled in the river and drank brewskis. There was a low-key float competition with a giant flamingo and Pegasus dominating the river.
The air chilled underneath the trees as beats floated all around. Who's that?! NickFRESH (check out our pre-interview with him). I used to sell groceries to this dude, and now I'm at his shows kicking back and capturing the sweet moments. Big Gigantic's "Good Times Roll" peeked out of his DJ session. There was a bright-eyed bushy-tailed groupie with his sticker proudly worn on her chest.
The next few hours were dedicated to exploring parts of Suwannee I never knew existed, after being doused in glitter, of course. Down flip-flop trail, there are trees pinned with shoes, panties, and beer can art. If you continue on there's a peaceful hill with an old bridge at the bottom, and there are beautiful pieces of graffiti upon the bridge legs.
It was sprinkling all around, and security were troopers all weekend. Perpetual Groove embraced their first PHB. This wasn't my first time seeing them but this was by far the best set I've ever seen of theirs. They covered Cage The Elephant's "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" while incense was being lit and carried all around heightening our senses.
My 12x12' #PURPLEHATTERSBALL multilayered wood cutout mural installation. Felt such A amazing flow painting and building this funky installation the day before everybody began to show up at Suwannee. Such a fun and amazing accomplishment to create something of this scale with just my two hands and no help but would have been just as great to have some peeps there to give a hand. #phb #phb17 #artinstallation #musicfestival #festy
I took a break from dancing to admire the late-night live painting. Raw Deviations was working on this trippy tiger mashup.
In the distance, I heard the familiar beat of "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. It couldn't be. I ran with all my might, holding my friend's hand as butterflies scattered throughout my stomach. This cover was insane. Perpetual Groove killed it. Ask anyone who was there.
Not a person in sight wasn't clapping along to Zoogma. Someone's dad was front row recording the set on a huge iPad while stumbling amongst the party. They remixed Flume's "Holdin On." Everyone knew this was their last chance to get down before going back to the real world. I ended my weekend with Dumpstaphunk (check out our review of them at Brooklyn Bowl). That good NOLA funk. Of course, "Water" was our favorite as a water gun in the crowd was being squirted in the air and shined fluorescent under the black lights.
Tony Hall, bassist/vocalist, declared, "We've been so influenced by what we see, what we read. Do ya own thing. It's okay to be inspired. We don't have to be copycats.”
Bubbles were floating all around and stage lights were making them glow in shades of purple and green. I grabbed a slice of Hawaiian pizza before heading to shower off all of the glitter and sweat. I saved all of my energy for Saturday night, and it was well worth it.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Rachel but after my second year, I can confirm her spirit lives on in SOSMP. Hugs, high fives, and compliments were handed out like candy. My heart broke after hearing someone's soul was lost in Spirit Lake on Monday.
The 10th Annual Purple Hatter's Ball held a lot of emotions. I wish the world had more festival veterans in it; we could use more love. Hold on a little tighter to your close ones and don't be afraid to blast that music a little louder. That's what it's all about.
Photos by Annabel Shettel for Bullet Music