Inaugural Okeechobee Festival 2016
In the beginning of March, the Okeechobee Music Festival came roaring through Florida for the first time ever. This was not you’re a typical genre specific festival either. Okeechobee did a job well done at pulling together diversities of all kinds of music into one location as one. There may have been little conflicts here and there, as well as some lock-down security, but what do you expect when something that big rolls into town. The cool part was meeting and connecting with people who you may not typically see in one’s normative festival scene, as well actually growing accustomed to new kinds of music as well. The venue was really cool as a whole and did a fantastic job, considering the goal of diversity it strived for. It had a cozy and woodsy camp ground for the guests with VIP access, yet had a lot of excess camping to house a remaining huge crowd. They also had attractions built entirely for late night ravers, Jungle 51, and a beach for the daytime ragers, Aquachobee. The food variety was on point but as far as vending it would have been nice to see more variety regarding posters and other independent art stands. The way the stages were set up was well planned. There were three stages all in the main area (as well as side stages at Jungle 51 and Aquachobee) that would alternate the start times of shows every thirty minutes or so, allowing the fans to catch a little bit of everything if they wanted yet also the people in charge to maintain a tight-fit schedule. Even outside the main stage area, there were not many dull moments in Okeechobee.
Here we discuss the music, which comes at you from all angles such as EDM, jazz, jam, rock, rap, and so on. I was given a three-day media pass, so I unfortunately missed out on Thursday’s action. I arrived on Friday to see the eccentric and fan favorite, Grace Potter. There weren’t any non-exciting moments when she took the stage, because of her contagious energy. Robert Plant still has it, as he and his new band The sensation Spaceshifters displayed so later that night. Sure, I’ve heard a Zepplin cover or two (or two-thousand) before, but one truly unbeatable moment of live music is a Zepplin cover performed by the OG himself, Robert Plant. After, Kamasi Washington was pumping out some smooth jazz tunes that were causing feet to move all over the place. Later that night, Bassnectar came on stage, which seemed to be the fan favorite that night and gave the fans everything they wanted and more as their performance circulated conversation until the bare end of the trip. To top the night off, the selection was perfect, as lettuce tied together a solid night of music yet kicked off the late night parties with a hard to beat booming performance! Saturday seemed to have a lot of chit chat about some of the big time rappers, such as Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller. The two actually came out together at the end of Kendrick Lamar’s set. I personally really enjoyed Lamar’s set, as he brought out a full band with him and still threw out his cryptic yet flowing raps. Another big fan favorite seemed to be Skrillex, who I personally did not care to see much of but the crowd sure did seem to be vibing out to it. So, kudos, Skrillex the job of entertaining your fans was no doubt accomplished. On the other hand, I was real impressed by Big Gigantic, who was also a fan favorite of the day. I loved seeing a saxophone and drum set take the stage yet still play some really unique jams. The best part of the night and possibly even the festival was surely the Powow!. It consisted of 23 different performers and played the best set list of the night. Their set list included “Sympathy for the devil” performed with Win Butler, “Don’t Stop Till you Get Enough” with Mac Miller, and “Rock the Casbah” with Mumford and Sons. Sunday was the final day, and it was jammed with solid performances. I heard many fans talk about their excitement for Future, who did an awesome job. I was watching Ween perform during the majority of his performance, but apparently Future fans say he sounds exactly like he does on studio recording as live. Many EDM fans seemed to hype up the Odesza set, and were even more pleased afterwards than their original hype. My favorite of the day was Ween, who played at its first festival in years. Gene and Dean Ween are an exciting duo, who know how to get the crowd rowdy with a few different genres and approaches to their playing style. They really rocked it when playing classics, such as “The Mollusk” and “Bananas and Blow”. To tie a knot to the whole weekend, Mumford and Sons played the final set. They were fantastic and were for sure one of the top events of the weekend. They had a huge fan base who really seemed to love what was being thrown their way. They absolutely killed it with their encore playing “House of the Rising Sun”, “You Really Got Me”, and “You Shook Me All Night Long” and a couple others with Tom Morello. It did not really matter who you were, but there was some enjoyable music and moments to be experienced all over the place at this festival. If you like to stick to your respective and specific theme to festivals, you may want to be prepared to experience something slightly different form the norm. Yet, if you like weekends full of much diversification, then taking a trip to Okeechobee for the second annual festival will be something of interest without a doubt!
written by: Robbey Pye