Space Love- Bear Creek 2013 Review
Last weekend was a sunny, mild few days in Live Oak, Florida at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. Funk, rock and jam fans arrived on Thursday and Friday for a fun-filled weekend at Bear Creek Festival 2013, where they found themselves dancing their booties off surrounded by plenty of art and lots of positive vibes. This year’s Bear Creek was very funky and the crowd was mellow, cool and lots of fun.
Fans Friday soaked in the positivity and openness of the festival, starting off their weekend with Toubab Krewe, Space Capone, The Revivalists, and then Jennifer Hartswick Band. This year at the festival there were 5 stages: 2 smaller stages, Purple Hat Stage (the largest stage which sits in a big field), our personal favorite, Uncle Charle’s Porch Stage, where the band plays an intimate set on a fun porch surrounded by great sound and lighting despite the small setup, and, finally, the Big Amphitheater, which is a hidden, but crazy arena at the end of a downhill slope surrounded by trees.
Here, decorations like this year’s Where the Wild Things Are larger than life-size cutouts animate the crowd. This stage also has fun stage lighting that flitters pieces of light across the trees filled with hammocks. Friday night ended with a special performance from Galactic with star guest David Shaw from the Revivalists. Their set played into an encore — an unique experience for this festival! Shaw really gave a powerful singing performance bringing Galactic to a whole new rock level.
Friday night’s costume theme was, “Warm and Fuzzy Animals,” and walking through the crowds, dancing and socializing were bears, dogs, Greatful Dead bears and more. Late Friday night music turned to groovy, mellow jam tunes with Greenhouse Lounge, Bonobo and Robert Walters 20th Congress. The highlight of the end of the night was seeing Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Seeing this band is always a good time; they rock the stage from 1950’s style music to modern and futuristic sounding tunes, full with bass, drums, horns, and more. This year’s set was a part of their tribute tour to Ray Charles, The Soul Spectacular Tour: A Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party. The tour started in the band’s hometown of New Orleans and has taken flight from there. At Bear Creek The Cosmic Horns and Zach Deputy joined KDTU for the set, Deputy taking lead on the vocals to many songs including, “Hit the Road Jack.”
Saturday’s tone was a little bit different; the festival was more laid back in during the day, but nonetheless really picked up by evening into a funky dance party. The star of Saturday night, and really the whole weekend, was the spectacular show from Bootsy Collins and the Funky Unity Band. Bootsy Collins, the bass player from Parliament Funkadelic, made a grand entrance onto the stage with his sparkling outfit — everything shined from his shoes and suit to his top hat, star glasses, and star shaped bass. The rest of the band followed dressed in space suits. Bootsy really brought the atmosphere of the making love era of the 70’s to the festival, encouraging the crowd to let loose and spread positivity to the world — starting with your neighbor. The band played classics like “Dr. Funkenstien,” “Flashlight,” “Let Me Ride,” “Mothership Connections” and “Stretchin Out.” Bernie Worrel, the original keyboardist of P-Funk, made a couple of guest appearances. Throughout the show Bootsy had three wardrobe changes — each outfit as sparkling as the one before. Saturday night’s costume theme, chosen by Bootsy was “Space is the …. Place.” Inspired by the film from the 1970’s, golden pharaohs and other characters filled the crowd. Near the end of the set he made the decision to join the audience by jumping into the crowd and dancing and hugging the fans.
Following Bootsy on Saturday night was Chali 2na and The House of Vibe. Chali 2na is a rapper and lyricist originally from the band Jurassic5. Chali 2na is a very tall person with an outspoken but calm stage presence. The band really played a fun set to the “Chali 2na Radio Station,” encouraging listeners to be true to themselves. They played some Jurassic5 classics and some covers accompanied by Dumpstaphunks amazing new drummer Nikki Glaspie.
Next on Saturday night was The Roots. The band had a hyped feel with drums, bass and music playing hip-hop beats with MC and rap lyrics. The Roots opened with the Ha Ha Music and had a none stop jam for the rest of their set.
The ending highlight of Saturday night was Dopadod. This show closed their fall 2013 tour and they were on fire. Dopapod played a mixture of some of their older songs and some newer songs from their new album including, “Give it a Name” and jammed out the fun, “Trapper Keeper.” They played on the Uncle Charle’s Porch Stage, which is surprisingly intimate and fun lighting. The band really seemed to be enjoying themselves this year. We are looking forward to Dopapd picking back up soon but soon to pick back up for their winter tour.
Sunday mellowed out with an early night from Zach Deputy, Dumpstaphunk and Lettuce. The costume theme was “The Color Purple,” and so all the unprepared costume wearers dug through their packed bags for anything purple. The tunes played into the evening and left us to enjoy our campsites, vendors, old and new friends and neighbors.
This years Bear Creek was a great way to welcome in the holiday cheer and New Year. With plenty of dancing and friendly faces the positive vibe will certainly spread into the following months and we greatly look forward to next year’s Bear Creek.
Written by Lauren Seaman and Audrey Klein
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Photographs by Lauren Seaman