Well festival season is starting earlier this year for this concert hopper since I have been recently given the opportunity to cover the inaugural Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival (OMF) in Florida. Who else is taking the drive to Sunshine Grove the first weekend in March? Looks to be an amazing weekend from all the publicity surrounding this recent addition to the North American festival landscape. I am most interested in visually taking in all the lush surroundings of Sunshine Grove especially the area they call Aquachobee. Aquachobee is a manmade beach area equipped with a Ferris wheel, a bar that supplies your favorite cocktails and fresh fruit smoothies, and a stage featuring various performances all weekend long. Who would not want to enjoy some quality beach time equipped with music at the beginning of March? And for all those festival goers who really just want to dance… Okeechobee brings to the table, Jungle 51. Imagine a dance party that starts every day at 9 PM and continues to 9 AM the following morning. Yes that is correct… 12 hours of non-stop music from dusk until dawn for those who need to feed the urge to just dance.
Just think this does not even cover the artists/bands that will appear on the main three stages; Be Stage, Here Stage, and Now Stage. With that being said, let us delve into the 60+ artists by highlighting 10 not to miss artists at this year’s event. It was extremely difficult to just hit 10 artists but I feel this best represents the artists at the OMF. For information purposes only, I did not include major headliners like Skrillex, the Avett Brothers, Kendrick Lamar, or Bassnectar in lieu of focusing on the lesser billed acts on the lineup.
ChobeeWobee Village is a dimension BEYOND THE PORTAL! Welcome to a world bubbling in creativity and healthy living. Stretch out and practice yoga, expand your mind with one of the numerous workshops, and feed your soul with a wide variety of art and performance from all over the world. Live painting, avant garde performance, and a field of vibrant living will make ChobeeWobee your HOME AWAY FROM HOME! 🔮🌴#OkeechobeeFest #EnterThePortal #omf16
- ODESZA – Well for starters let me address that besides the CRSSD Festival in San Diego on March 5th, Okeechobee is the only other North American date set so far. They will play a few dates in South America, most notably both Lollapalooza Brazil and Argentina. So basically if you want to see them anytime soon, you only have two chances during the first quarter of 2016. Odesza is the highest billed act on my list based solely on the fact from a past performance from them at Bonnaroo (2015). If you are not already familiar with Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight a.k.a. Odesza, please do so soon. You can thank me later.
- Big Grams – I still recall the night when Phantogram played the Tabernacle in Atlanta and a surprise guest came on stage to perform with them. None other than Big Boi, from local legends Outkast, who is such a big fan of Phantogram that they have now released a self-titled EP. Now keep in mind that this EP has a run time of 27+ minutes, so to fill a one hour set one can only imagine what these three have in store for us. Do not miss this performance at the Now Stage on Sunday (7:15 PM-8:15 PM).
- Jason Isbell – Recent Grammy award winner and longtime personal favorite, Jason Isbell has been making great music since 2001. Former member of the band Drive-By Truckers, Isbell has made a major impact as a solo artist on the country/rock music scene with albums such as Southeastern and the latest LP, Something More Than Free. Check out his performance at the Be Stage on Sunday (4 PM- 5:15 PM).
- Dr. Dog – This Pennsylvania based indie rock band has been around since 1999 and has continued to release great albums year after year. Dr. Dog is fresh off the release of their latest LP, The Psychedelic Swamp, a few weeks ago and set to perform at the Be Stage on Saturday (4 PM- 5:15 PM). This will be their second performance of the year after kicking off their tour at the Observatory North Park in San Diego. After they are done (or you can cut the last 15 minutes) then it would be time for my #7 pick, Lotus.
- Ween – After a brief break-up in 2012, Dean and Gene Ween are back! They have already been added to several festivals: Okeechobee, Bonnaroo, Levitation, and Lockn’ (2 night set). But feel special Okeechobee because Dean and Gene kick off this little reunion tour at your very own festival. Ween is known for their very eclectic and unique sound that draws its influence from so many different genres of music. This set at the Be Stage on Sunday (6 PM- 7:30 PM) is going to be one for the record books! And I am excited to be a part of this momentous occasion.
- Big Gigantic – This instrumental livetronic/hip-hop/jazz duo from Boulder, Colorado has been a mainstay on the North American festival landscape since 2009 and now they get to add Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival to their list of many performances. This is also Big Gigantic’s first performance of the year in North America when they play the Now Stage on Saturday (8:15 PM- 9:30 PM).
- Lotus – This instrumental electronic jam band, originally from Indiana, kicks off their 2016 North American festival dates at Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival also. After the release of their latest LP, Eats the Light, earlier this year, Lotus is looking to play Summer Camp Music Festival and the Mountain Music Festival later in the year. Don’t miss their set on the Now Stage on Saturday (5:00 PM- 6:00 PM) or anytime they are playing a festival that you are attending.
- Bonobo (DJ Set) – I first became aware of Simon Green a.k.a. Bonobo at the Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin) back in 2013 and was very impressed with his style of trip hop/acid jazz/chillwave/electronica. Bonobo has announced that he is releasing new material sometime this year, so expect to hear something new this weekend while he plays the Now Stage on Saturday (6:30 PM- 7:30 PM). This will be his first scheduled performance of the year as he will jet off immediately to various European dates until late April.
- The Oh Hellos – This indie folk/rock band from San Marcos, TX was founded by siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath (2011) and has released three solid, independent albums. This is a band to watch out for in 2016 as they are set to play several festivals and many local dates across the United States. My prediction is they will blow up as one of the surprise hits of 2016. Catch them at the Now Stage on Friday (3:00 PM- 4:00PM).
- Kamasi Washington – Kamasi is a jazz saxophonist who is known for his bebop/West Coast jazz style and has played with the likes of Nas, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Snoop Dogg, and Herbie Hancock to name a select few. I believe this small sample of his musical resume speaks volumes as to his abilities to command a crowd with his captivating tenor saxophone performance. He is set to melt minds on the Here Stage on Friday (10:45 PM- 11:45 PM) right before Bassnectar takes the Be Stage. Sounds like a perfect plan to me.
Is it time to enter the portal yet? Make sure you stay tuned the weekend of March 4th-6th to both Concerthopper’s Instagram and Facebook page and my personal Instagram page for some exclusive live look-ins and updates right from the OMF. So like our page and follow us in order to stay informed on all the latest concert hopping by our staff. Still on the fence about attending this year’s OMF? For any general questions about OMF go to their Information page. Also, check out this map for the entire festival grounds at Sunshine Grove. Check out the daily schedule for OMF. Still have not got your ticket? Use this link to get with the program today. As always, thank you for your continued support from all of us at Concerthopper. Hope to see you at a festival or show soon!