* This article was originally published in the FSView in 2017. Since I’m still figuring out how to incorporate this challenge into my daily routines, I wanted to at least get something out there that I think is bearable to read! Hope you enjoy this throwback to B.C. (Before COVID) days. *
Sometimes you just get lucky.
I was walking back to my apartment from campus, and I received the most surprising text. Earlier in the day, one of the FSView editors posted on Facebook saying that there was an extra media pass to Okeechobee. This was literally the day before the festival started, but I still commented saying I was very interested, but another writer snagged the pass.
Fast forward a few hours, and this is when I received the text. That same editor who posted earlier told me that the other writer bailed and wanted to know if I still wanted it. Did I want it? Of course, I wanted it. This was the what I’d always dreamed of when joining the school newspaper.
I called my friend to see if I could ride down with her, and she said she had room for me. And bam. Just like that, I would be attending the second annual Okeechobee Music and Art Festival.
There’s something said about cultivating a unique identity. The 2017 Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival did just about everything right and to many people, it would be considered an immense success. However, they are still searching for their identity. Similar to a sophomore college student trying to find his or her own path, Okeechobee is still trying to find its place in the world of music festivals.
To the 30,000 attendees, this 24-hour music festival in Okeechobee, Florida had everything that an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fan might want but carried many other genres throughout the four days as well. However, the high number of EDM acts such as Snails, Bassnectar and many others gave it more of an Ultra-feel or Sunset Music Festival. Is this the identity that Okeechobee is searching for? That answer is up to the management.
It’s not that the lineup was subpar. In fact, the lineup was stellar. But it seemed that Okeechobee was trying to be something that it’s not – an EDM rave festival. If that is what they are attempting to be, then they need to show that more of that through the advertisements of the event.
However, all of this could be seen as their future identity. They could be the first camping music festival that focuses a lot on DJs but is able to get a wide variety of artists like Kings of Leon this year or Mumford and Sons last year. Despite this so-called identity crisis, the music festival featured unbelievable performances from all sides of the spectrum.
Logic performed passionately in front of a crowd that was yearning for just that sort of energy. In the middle of arguably his most famous song “Fade Away,” he stopped the music and emphatically said, “Cut that shit, cut that shit. How the f*$# are y’all doing?” The crowd reacted equivocally to his vibrant energy. Logic was able to actively involve the crowd throughout his performance and showed why he is considered one of the best lyrical rappers today.
Anderson .Paak, the artist of many talents from California, performed on Sunday night and showed why he is one of the up-and-coming hip-hop artists. He is able to play so many instruments including drums while he is actually rapping or singing. He has such a unique voice, and you could really feel the excitement from everyone.
Griz put on a fantastic performance along with Flume and Bassnectar too. One could really see the passion in all of the fans of these shows. Although I’m only a casual fan of EDM and dubstep, it’s easy to appreciate how everyone reacts to these performances. The huge bass sounds and beats combined with the DJ’s modification on songs during live shows exemplifies the harmonic sounds from many EDM artists. Much of the time it appeals to the typical raver with their head wailing back and forth throughout an entire set and into the night.
That is what makes this event so special: it literally never ends. If you wanted to watch shows from 11 in the morning to 7 the next morning, you would be able to.
The festival featured three major stages called BE, HERE and NOW. It had various minor stages that included their own themes including the Jive Joint, which had a retro-acoustic feel to it on a small stage, and Jungle 51, which was a nonstop rave from sunset to sunrise.
Along with all of the great music every single day, from Thursday through Friday, it is undeniable of the great vibes that occur throughout the festival. There aren’t many places where you can give strangers a high five and not get weird looks from everyone around you (unless you are at a sporting event). Everyone was so happy to be there and to be able to forget about the real world for a few days to come into the fantasy world of Okeechobee.
Speaking of the real world, the crowd that Okeechobee attracted this year from the entire country was interesting to see. One of the main demographics were college students from all over Florida, the southern region, and even the rest of the country spreading from the Northeast to the West Coast too. Along with college students, there were your typical festival-goers who had obviously been attending festivals for years.
Overall, Okeechobee was a major success – both financially and musically.