Nuances give music its feeling and metaphorically speaking, if Friday was the crescendo and Saturday was the forte then Sunday was the decrescendo. There was really no way to top Day 2, but Day 3 was a nice and fitting way to bring the first-ever Okeechobee Music Festival to a close.
It was another gorgeous March day in the mid 70’s and we started by plopping down onto the ground at the “Here” stage to join a handful of other Okeechobeings and watch Dungen, a jam band from Sweden who sang mostly in their native language. They had a unique sound, like something you’d expect to hear back at Woodstock in the 60’s. They just finished up recording Allas Sak, their first album in a few years, back in September and were just as happy to share songs from it as the audience was to hear them.
Fetty Wap had canceled at the last minute, so Kill The Noise, who couldn’t make his Saturday slot ended up filling in, delivering his signature style of hard-hitting EDM and festival bangers to an ever-growing throng of revelers. Dropping collaborations he made with Dillon Francis, remixes and plenty of his own originals, KTN would occasionally interrupt his set to let the crowd know his thoughts on the upcoming election, which boil down to “fuck Trump”.
Kill The Noise finished and after a brief intermission, it was time for Post Malone. Granted he doesn’t have too much content which resulted in a 30 minute set, but his song “White Iverson” has garnered over 117 million listens on Spotify and lead to the development of a cult-like following. He opened with his auto-tune smash hit, which you could hardly hear over the crowd screaming along, dabbed around the stage and closed with “Too Young”.
DJ Esco is Future’s DJ and hypeman. He was caught with 15 grams of weed in Dubai and sentenced to 56 nights in jail and was locked up along with the hard drive that contained all of the music he and Future had been working on. They just kicked off their Purple Reign tour and how’s this for meta? Esco had his own DJ who played tracks to hype the crowd up while he bounced around stage, busting out dabs left and right and at one point stopped to rip a lit blunt that someone had thrown on stage. Soon after he took the decks.
Future strolled out as the opening to “Thought It Was A Drought” came on and was joined by everyone screaming the opening lyrics along with him: “I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops”. Oh, Future. At any rate, a huge crowd had amassed to see his set, which was one of the wilder ones from the weekend. Girls were up on guy’s shoulders, tops were taken off and if viewed from above, you probably would have thought the audience was on fire from all the smoke.
Many were surprised to see Ween on the lineup, as they figured the bizarre band probably would have been booked at Aura instead, which was taking place during the same time frame. But someone managed to land them and it was a nice offering for the hippie, jam-band loving type who had no desire to see Future. This was my first time…experiencing…Ween and they reminded me a little of Primus with the out-there-ness of their music, playing songs like “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)” and “Touch My Tooter”.
Big Grams is an interesting collaboration between electronic rock duo Phantogram and Big Boi of Outkast fame. What started off as a chance discovery blossomed into a three-song feature on Big Boi’s last studio album and the trio just put out an official Big Grams album back in September. It was loud and rowdy and what finally sent the crowd over the edge was when they broke into “Sorry Ms. Jackson”.
The Avett Brothers were the highlight of my Sunday. A friend turned me onto them a few months back and if you’re a music lover, it’s hard not to like their folksy, americana-inspired harmonies and melodies. A lone female violin player came out onto the stage and began the opening to “Devil Pulls The Strings”. She was soon joined by a wild cellist who twirled his instrument around like a ballroom dance partner. Scott and Seth Avett came out next and as the fiddler and stand-up bass player flanked them, they launched into four-part harmony and kicked the show off.
They sounded just as good live as they do on their albums and put on a fun, engaging performance that included “I and Love and You” and “Laundry Room” that made for an emotional experience.
Odesza was how we capped off our night and it was quite a way to end things. The duo out of Seattle has been producing for a few years now and after witnessing their live set, it was easy to see how and why they’ve enjoyed a steady rise in EDM prominence over the past year. Embracing the livetronica mindset to the fullest, their onstage setup consisted of a floor tom, cymbal and drum pad for the two members and they were backed by three horns (two trumpets and a trombone), which were mic’d up and ran through effect pedals to produce a unique sound.
They opened with “Bloom” and played a handful of songs from their In Return album including “Sun Models” and “Say My Name”. Most of Okeechobee had gathered to see them by now and they more than met my expectations.
Okeechobee was a success for a variety of reasons. The vision and experience lent by the team behind Bonnaroo allowed them to put together a diverse, multi-genre lineup that at first glance seemed like it didn’t make sense, but in all actuality ended up going together like peanut butter and jelly. The production was on point – the three stages were close enough that you could go from the “Be” to the “Here” to the “Now” stage in less than 10 minutes, but spaced far enough apart that sound bleed was rarely an issue. The lights and sound were top notch.
The food selection was great and included everything from vegan and vegetarian options to gourmet grilled cheeses, po’ boys and my main form of sustenance for the weekend: loaded tots from Smokin’ Pete’s food truck. Bars were plentiful, with beers costing $6 and water $3 – not overly exorbitant. The art installations were a nice added touch and a good way to highlight local talent. Everything seemed to be well thought out, but what else would you expect from the people behind Bonnaroo?
We can’t wait for next year.