The ancient adage states, “the third time’s a charm” and those words hold true with Florida’s Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival. Most people would say that the third annual Okeechobee Fest was nothing short of amazing from the music to the workshops and everything in-between. On the edge of Lake Okeechobee in the heart of Florida is where this festival calls home along with sunny skies and perfect weather. Throughout the day the sun graced us all with its warming rays accompanied by a refreshing breeze to cool us down. When the sun dropped below the horizon the temperature did as well allowing everyone to layer up in their favorite eclectic threads.
Entering the festival one could tell just how massive this festival is and the grounds encompassed many square miles of land. Camping was all around the perimeter with the stages and everything in the heart of the festival. The Aquachobee Beach Stage was a new addition this year and it was settled right next to the water where people could take a swim. A few hundred yards from that was the Incendia Stage as well as a hand built pirate ship for climbing. Shade was provided by raised wooden lounge areas all through the beach area. This year the art director also curated a live painting mural maze that artists worked on throughout the weekend. Right in the middle of all this was the ferris wheel providing a birds-eye view of everything.
The Main Stages aptly named, Be, Here, Now, were located in The Grove which was a huge area with a ton of tree coverage and facilities. Not to be forgotten was The Jungle 51 stage located in the heart of the woods that went all night long playing heavy jungle beats for those interested in a dark and weird late-late night. During the day “Yogachobee” hosted a multitude of workshops for those looking to get enlightened. There was a myriad of art to entice your senses like the interactive “Red Hot Cock” that blew fire and the “LOVE” sign that led to a forest of mysteries.
Thursday night began with The Main Squeeze inciting a funk-heavy dance party getting everybody grooving. Everyone was excited for the special Full Moon Party with Thriftworks into Opiuo and ending with Bassnectar. Thriftworks eased us into the night with his trippy downtempo beats as well as remixing that hilarious video of the “IDONTKNOW” guy. Opiuo is a dime a dozen and got us going hard with his well produced basslines mixed with spacey beats that cannot be described. To end the night the right way amid a cloudless moonlit sky Bassnectar gifted us with a downtempo set reminiscent of his old school vibes.
Attendees were still filtering in throughout the day on Friday, but one could definitely tell it was a sold out festival by the volume of happy music lovers everywhere. Friday night highlights began with a phenomenal Tycho set to ease into the night, followed by a funky Turkuaz set that showcased their aptitude of musicianship. STS9 got the late night ball rolling on the Now stage and touched upon a very rarely played “Water Song”. Shortly after many minds were blown by Dave Tipper’s sonic stew of sound that is beyond comprehension. Lettuce brought the vibe back to Earth and got booties shakin’ and groovin’ with a funk heavy set. To end off the night Bassnectar blew minds once again and opened up with a remix of Eminem’s “My Name Is” and ended his set with a powerful message via a speech from Martin Luther King Jr., “but by all means keep moving.”
Saturday and Sunday were chock full of more great acts like Clozee, G Jones, Gramatik, Big G, Ganja White Night, Liquid Stranger, just to name a few. The Flaming Lips made it rain with confetti and Wayne Coyne put on an enticing show as per usual. He went all the way and brought out a blow-up Yoshimi, the laser hands, a massive balloon that read “Fuck Yeah Okeechobee”, and of course he climbed in his human hamster ball. One of the acts everyone was looking forward too was the Snoop Dogg Pow-Wow and that did not disappoint! It was quite wonderful to experience legends like Snoop, The Roots, and Chaka Kahn on stage providing a musical flow beyond expectations. Snoop brought dancers on stage and the crowd sang along to most every song. Legendary musical talent from The Roots and Chaka Kahn graced us with R&B you don’t see everyday.
Overall the third installment of Okeechobee was an all-around success. The curators listened to the complaints from past years and delivered. There were no bad vibes, not a single fight broke out amongst the 32,000 people who attended the festival. Security may have been a bit tight with the metal detectors and no bag allowed into The Grove. However, considering a major shooting just took place in Florida it’s good to see precautions are being taken for our safety. Thanks to Okeechobee Fest Florida has a major annual festival it deserves.