Date: November 1st, 2014
Line Up: The String Cheese Incident, Big Gigantic, Thievery Corporation, and many more.
Location: Suwannee Hulaween, Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. Live Oak, FL
It’s all right folks, it’s all right, Nahko is here had he has brought Medicine For The People. Just finishing up their most recent Water Is Life US tour, The Pier was fortunate enough to get a dose of medicine down in Florida this Halloween weekend, catching Nahko and Medicine for the People’s last set of their tour, at the 2nd annual Suwannee Hulaween music festival.
Once again, The Pier celebrated Halloween with a ton of live music in the perfect setting for the holiday. Under the eerie Spanish moss draped oaks of the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. Jam-packed with 3 days of music, just over 8,000 fans came out to this the festival, featuring 7 sets of the event’s headliner, The String Cheese Incident. Additionally, the event boasted performances from some the most interesting acts in the festival scene. Groups like Big Gigantic, Thievery Corporation, Beats Antique and just under 50 other talented acts.
Of course String Cheese stole the show. Crafting together 3 nights of music, the band continued to showcase their talented fusion of musicians with epic jams of their original tracks from all throughout their career. They also included a whole set of infamous covers. Including versions of a variety of tracks like Bob Marley’s “Time Will Tell”, “Ghostbusters”, “Live and Let Die” and “Stairway To Heaven”. Backed by a brilliant brand new light show, SCI was nothing short of impressive.
However, of all the bands that played that weekend, one band’s set truly stood out. Over the past couple of years, Nahko and Medicine for the People have made an impression on the music festival scene around the country. Having performed at what seems like almost every festival event around, the band consistently draws them in with their combination of arts and activism, playing catchy music with an inspiring narrative of lyrics.
Scheduled in a great time slot on Saturday at 4:15-5:15, ith no competing acts, the wooded amphitheater was filled with a tribe of costumed festival-goers. In full CDC hazmat garb: white jumpsuit, gas mask, gloves and all; the band walked out on the stage to cheers and applause. Much of which was for the band, but many were cheering for the group’s clever costumes, possibly a statement on the media’s sensationalism of Ebola. The band opened by playing a few minutes of instrumentals with Nahko on keys, before he finally took off the mask. His smiling face causing a wave of cheers across the crowd. Finally able to take an unobstructed breath Nahko ripped off the glove on his strumming hand, swung his guitar off his back and the band seamlessly went into the opening riffs of “Pueo”. Addressing the crowd Nahko exclaimed, “This is not a test. You are not sick… believe in your own capability of healing.”
The band really got going through out the first song, even including a short drum solo to pumped up the crowd. Though it seems Nahko may of went a bit too hard. During a jam in the last minute of the track, Nahko popped his G-string. After landing from one of his signature jumps to end the track, Nahko unplugged and walked off stage left. Motioning to the rest of the guys with the ole ‘keep it rolling’ sign.
While Nahko was in the wings changing out the string and tuning up, the rest of the band played on what seemed to be an impromptu instrumental. Chase Makai on his 12-string acoustic guitar, Dustin Thomas on bass, and the group’s most recent addition, drummer Justin Chittams hitting hard in the background. Unfortunately, Percussionist and Cajon player Hope Medford was absent as she has been out for the group’s most recent couple of gigs.
After a delay that went unnoticed by most of the audience, Nahko returned to center stage and the band went into “Risk It,” a song that speaks of the environment. A perfect fit for this outside set. In a venue where they “left the tree standing” and built the stage from recycled wood that was cut down to clear the area for the venue.
“Risk It,” has quickly become a fan favorite as the band incorporates a few lines of Matisyahu’s ”One Day” into the ending. Wittingly, Nahko has changed the lyrics to the word “Today” as more of a call to action.
Before going into “On The Verge”, while taking a second between songs to wipe away the sweat, Dustin Thomas pointed out to one fan’s anti-fracking sign. “I like that sign right there, Hold that sign up! What does that sign say? It says don’t frack,” announced Thomas. Continuing he explained his message, “…it’s our responsibility to be educated in a way we are not by-standers, we are here on this planet right now. So do what you can to find out what fracking is, and do everything in your power to stop it if you like clean air and clean water…”
In fact a lot of fans had great signs and flags, helping to enhance the uniqueness of this set. One person upfront had a big card board sign with Nahko’s lyrical-slogan “I believe in good things coming.” Someone had the classic “This is a good sign” sign. Two creative fans had excellent flags – One with a State of Florida flag that had the words “Florida Tribe” written on it. And one guy with a red, white and blue flag that’s typically used to announce a business is open, altered to say “open your mind.” All of which were fitting for Nahko’s music.
After “On The Verge”, the band switched costumes, stripping off their hazmat jumpsuits and revealing police uniforms made of black pants, black shirts, black vests, sheriff badges and police hats. Now “Officers of Love… putting bad vibes behind bars.” As Nakho said “You have the right to remain free.”
Nahko played two more tracks to close out the set. “Vultures Of Culture” off the act’s 2010 debut release of On The Verge and the Reggae influenced Warrior People off their most recent 2013 album, Dark As Night. A track that transitioned to end the set with a cover of Blackstreet’s ”No Diggity”
We have seen Nahko several times before and this was definitely a different set. The band only played a handful of songs, but stretched them out, jamming more. Speaking to a lot of fans after the set, many seemed to enjoy the jammier set. Later, in a social media post, Guitarist Chase Makai told fans, “This was one of my favorite shows of the tour!”
It was another high energy, rocking set to end this chapter of the Nahko history book. Once again, not only was the band able to make thousands dance for a hour, but also hopefully influenced many with their musical medicine that spreads vibes of empowerment in an inclusive experience.
Continuing on with their story, Nahko will head, once again, down to Australia for 5 shows. Via the Happy Herb Company the band is able to bring out a videographer to work on a few special projects! Nahko and Medicine for the People have also announced that they will be aboard the Zen Cruise in February.
Aside from performing all over this past year that band has been working on new music. In 2015 look for a new record with songs fill with beautiful music, issues that band is focused on, a continuation of chapters from the story of Nahko’s life.
For more about Nahko and Medicine for the People, their music, and information about their tour dates check out the details below.
Nahko’s Set List:
Risk It >Today (Matisyahu “One Day” Cover)
On The Verge
Vultures Of Culture
Warrior People > Blackstreet’s No Diggity