Back in September of 2016 my friend Bryan sent me an article about a new music festival up near Lake Okeechobee. A festival started by one of Bonnaroo’s founders, Paul Peck. A festival that wasn’t just country music or EDM. A festival one and a half hours from my house.
To say I was excited was an understatement.
I bought my tickets for Okeechobee 2016 the second they went on sale. The lineup was out of control, Mumford and Sons, Kendrick, Skrillex, Bassnectar, Robert Plant, Hall and Oates, Dr. Dog. My body was ready.
I went up with 7 of my good friends including my fiance . We camped out, met new friends, danced, ate delicious food, got weird, saw some amazing bands. We had an amazing time from the second we got there until we left.
Once we left we started planning for Okeechobee Fest 2017.
When the lineup dropped I was let down. I am rock n’ roll guy. There was a serious lack of it. No legacy acts? (minus George Clinton). Kings of Leon felt like a huge wiff, they’re a good band, but not for Okeechobee. Usher + The Roots are fantastic, but maybe not second billed fantastic. Bassnectar is great and everything, but he was there in 2016. There were some great undercard acts in there; The Delta Troubadours, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Allen Stone, Con Brio, VHS Collection are all awesome.
The lineup caused one of my original group members to say nahh to 2017. Obviously this was disappointing, but he sucks anyway so not a huge loss.
The rest of us booked our tickets and started a 100+ day countdown and a never ending group text about planning and hype spreading.
Finally the day came.
We left my house with my group at 9:30am, the ride up is short (only about an hour and change) but it was super enjoyable. Coming from the West Palm Beach area we hit almost no traffic coming in (I know this is an anomaly), we weren’t hassled by cops, it was a painless drive.
Upon entering we could tell Emily and the rest of the staff at Soundslinger really took this place to the next level. The overall sense of organization inside the gates was a clear improvement from 2016. Staff seemed to know what they were doing and where to direct cars to maximize the use of the beautiful grounds.
We got set up in about two hours and then started exploring. Everything about the festival was a step up from 2016. There were more art, more stages and more activities.
The Inncendia Stage was one of my favorite additions. Last year the Jungle went all night long, playing old school techno. It was nice, but that stuff can put me to sleep at 3am. Tons of surprise DJs showed up and absolutely killed it. Snails, Griz, 12th Planet and Space Jesus all brought the heat (pun intended) with their late night sets.
Some of the new interactive installations like the Microdose VR and The Sonic Portal were pretty insane. The Sonic Portal was a very unique and calming experience, videos don’t really do it justice. If you ever see it a festival just check it out, it’s free.
Photo from the Sonic Portal’s Facebook Page
The grounds were cleaner, there were more trash and recycle bins throughout the property. Maps were posted and new street signs were added, making it a lot easier to find your way back home after a long day of partying. I feel like there should’ve been more water stations, especially inside the grove where lines were 10+minutes long at peak times.
The weather was pretty perfect. 75-80 during the day, 60ish at night. Minus some serious winds that came through and took down some EZ-ups, a festival goer couldn’t ask for nicer dancing weather.
Some bands/acts came and gave us everything they had. That they love what they do and they want to share that love with their fans. Looking at you Bleachers, Allen Stone, Porter Robinson, Griz, Anderson Paak & Vulfpeck.
Others came and played like they were held at gun point…. Cold War Kids & Kings of Leon were both disappointing, to say the least (KOL ended 35 minutes early).
The lineup of a music festival is what originally attracts people to the grounds.Those people create the vibe that people coming back. The people of Okeechobee are some of the best around. They’re kind, outgoing, fun, giving, adventurous beautiful souls. We the people are what makes Okeechobee great. We make it what it is and what it will be.
The sophomore year of Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival was a huge success. It is going to become one of the top festivals in the country if they keep this up. I can’t wait for next year.
Okeechobee 2017 : People danced, people sang, people got weird. It sold out, no one died; that’s a good year.