Photos by Don Idio
With the holiday season coming to an end, it is time to dive head first into the 2018 festival year! With a new year comes new adventures and new festival experiences. This year my goal is to attend a number of festivals that I have never been to before and Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival is on the top of that list! Located in Okeechobee, Florida from March 1-4 this unique festival is a great way to start your season. Two years ago this music festival first came together and it’s been growing and evolving ever since.
The Festival Grounds:
The first thing that won me over about Okeechobee is its location. Taking place on a 600 acre patch of land in southern Florida called Sunshine Grove, OMF is the perfect escape from a cold midwestern winter. Who wouldn’t want 60-80 degree weather and clear skies at the start of March? There are many different camping options within Sunshine Grove including GA/ VIP tent and car camping areas as well as plenty of palm trees to hang up hammocks in. The main festival ground is broken up into two main sections serving different purposes. The Grove is the center of the festival grounds and is where the BE, HERE, NOW stages are. When you leave The Grove and pass through the palm trees you enter The Moonlight Oasis. This oasis is the heart of this festival and is home to Jungle 51, Aquachobee Beach, and ChobeeWobee Village. Jungle 51 is a night owls paradise where festival goers can catch some killer late night sets and maybe even have an out of this world encounter. Aquachobee is at the heart of the oasis and is a great way to enjoy the warm Florida weather. With beachfront access to the lake, great food and live music I plan on spending a lot of time here! ChobeeWobee Village has been dubed the festival within the festival and is a whole new world with endless things to discover. Yoga classes, local vendors, intimate music stages, live artists, and a psychedelic tea forest are just a few of the things you can find in ChobeeWobee Village.
One of my favorite things about music festivals is that they are a perfect escape from everyday life where diverse and welcoming communities come together. The energy here at Okeechobee Music Fest is one of a kind and leaves everyone craving more. Throughout the festival all you find is good vibes and people willing to lend a helping hand. The community that forms here truly becomes family by the end of the weekend and lasting friendships are formed. There is also a huge focal point for putting on a sustainable festival. A huge emphasis is placed on keeping the festival grounds and natural environment clean so future generations will be able to enjoy it. Everyone is encouraged to do their part in making sure that no waste is left behind. I have heard nothing but good things about my friends experiences here and I can’t wait to become part of the Okeechobee family!
This is the third year that this music festival will be taking place and this years lineup might be the best one yet. Everyone from the headliners to the up and coming artists are poised to help put on a weekend of music that you won’t soon forget. With all of the talent that this lineup holds picking a few to talk about was extremely difficult. This year’s lineup is a thing of beauty and is guaranteed not to disappoint.
Out of all four of this years headliners I’ve only had the opportunity to see Travis Scott live. Last year at Bonnaroo, Travis Scott put on a killer performance where he had a giant animatronic bird on stage that he climbed up on then later ran through the audience and climbed on top of a bar getting the crowd moving. After seeing his rowdy performance at Bonnaroo, I can’t wait to see what he has in store for Okeechobee. For years now I have been wanting to see Bassnectar live and now I finally have an opportunity. This will mark the third consecutive year that Bassnectar makes his way to Okeechobee putting on two separate sets including a special full moon set where things are guaranteed to get weird. Arcade Fire is an indie rock back from Canada that has been rocking stages for the past eighteen years. This Grammy winning band has a unique sound and is sure to put on a show that keeps everyone moving from start to finish. The final headliner has been rocking the music industry for the last four years and has collaborated with artists such as G-Eazy, Justin Bieber, and The Chainsmokers to name a few. Halsey will be taking the stage at festivals across the country this year including Hangout Festival, The Governors Ball. Okeechobee will be her first festival of the year so she should have something special in store for us.
Whenever you first see a festival lineup drop, the first thing you look for are your favorite artists. This year’s Okeechobee lineup has so many of my favorite artists that I’ve seen before and a number of artists that I love, but have never had the chance to see live. There are so many of my favorites on this lineup that I don’t think I will be able to see them all! One artist I know I won’t be missing is Big Gigantic. This duo first came together in 2008 and has been blowing up ever since. Their combination of electronic music with live saxophone and drums gives them a unique sound that’s perfect to get down and dance to. Big G is known for their funky beats and has played at virtually every big festival around sharing the stage with many talented musicians. Do not miss your chance to see this duo live!
(Big Gigantic ft. GRiZ)
One of the bands that I’ve been listening to for a while now, but have never had the chance to see live is Foster The People. Formed in 2009, their hit single “Pumped Up Kicks” propelled them into the spotlight and they’ve been going strong ever since. This diverse group ranges from punk to rock, dance, funk, hip hop, and many more . Another artist that I have recently discovered, but haven’t seen live is Khalid. This 19 year old singer/ songwriter just recently hit his stride and is now rocking stages and festivals across the world. Khalid is putting everything he has into his music and is sure put on a killer show this weekend.
Might Not Know But Can’t Miss:
One of the things I love about exploring music festivals are the artists that you stumble upon and fall in love with when you might not have listened to before hand. Out of all the bands that I have fallen in love with for the first time at a festival, Sound Tribe Sector 9 is at the top of that list. The first time I saw Sound Tribe was at The Werk Out in 2016 and to this day is still one of my favorite sets. During their set, STS9 jammed so hard that they blew the sound system! After a little maintenance Tribe quickly took the stage again and continued to melt faces for the next two hours. Their ability to improvise and flow from one song to the next ensures that every Tribe set is unique. They get the crowd dancing and mesmerize people with their light shows. STS9 is one of the bands this year that I will not be missing!
(STS9- Oregon Eclipse Festival 2017)
Another one of the bands I’ve stumbled upon at a festival and quickly fell in love with are the funk masters themselves Lettuce. I have now seen Lettuce perform at a number of festivals and I have loved every set! For two decades this group has been mixing funk and soul with hip hop and psychedelic styles creating massive dance parties at festivals across the country. Their ability to groove together has made Lettuce one of my favorite bands to watch and a must see act in the festival world. The final band I’m going to talk about is another one that I stumbled upon and fell in love with. Twiddle is a jam band from Vermont that have been touring the country for the past twelve years. Their upbeat and positive music with rock and jam influence makes Twiddle stand out from the crowd. Twiddle is no stranger to the festival scene and hosts their very own multi-day music festival each year called Tumble Down. This band knows how to work a crowd and will not let you down.
The PoWoW a live superstar mashup:
Every year, much like other music festivals around the country, Okeechobee Music Festival has a massive collaboration of different artists where anything and everything can happen called the PoWoW. This year’s PoWoW will be featuring the one and only Snoop Dogg! Who knows what special guests will be joining him on stage, but with this stellar lineup this year’s show is sure to be amazing!
Needless to say I am very excited to experience my very first Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival! With a stacked lineup, loving community, and beautiful festival grounds this weekend is bound to be one of the best of the year. Don’t miss your chance to enter the portal and experience the magic of Okeechobee this March!
Check out more photos from last years Okeechobee Music Fest HERE!