What a successful and fantastic start to the upcoming 2016 Festival season during the first weekend of March in Okeechobee, Florida! If you attended the inaugural Okeechobee Music +Arts Festival (OMF), then you know exactly what I am referring to in my previous statement. If not, then you should look into being a part of this new and amazing festival in South Florida next year.
With major headliners like Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, and Bassnectar to kick off this inaugural music and arts festival, is it too soon to already think about who is headlining next year’s event? Because all I can think about now is who will play next year’s event.
I mean I am not impatient; I just really want to get back to the Grove ASAP! The promoters of OMF have to be thanked tremendously for putting on such a successful, fun, and very profitable (Sold out!) first year festival in such a lush and vibrant location. I had some reservations to be honest about attending a first time festival of such a magnitude… this is unchartered territory but knowing the promoters had previous experience eased my concerns greatly. Now I can finally check off my bucket list attending a first year camping festival.
First off, I want to congratulate the entire crew at the OMF for a job well-done in putting together this wonderful weekend. Secondly, we want to extend our gratitude in letting Concerthopper come to the OMF on assignment. It was an honor to cover this festival for Concerthopper. Kayla, Sammy Jo, and I had a great time attending and cannot wait for OMF 2017! With that being said, let us dive right on into the daily festivities and discuss some of my main highlights from the weekend at OMF.
The start of the festival (Friday) started off smoothly with clear skies and very pleasant temperatures throughout the entire day. To be honest, the temperature was perfect the entire weekend and that helped set a great vibe throughout the festivities. Although, it did drop in temperature during the night but that was to be expected during this time of the year in Florida. If you were caught off guard by the chilly nights, then make note to pack extra clothes, a cuddle buddy, and blankets for next year’s event.
Enough about the perfect festival weather, let’s get to the main focus… the music. We managed to see a ton of acts the first day (15) as Sam and I had devised a plan since the schedule was very helpful in doing so. Also, with the proximity of the three main stages in the Grove it was a breeze hopping between stages at anytime of the day. We had some reservations about the distance between stages and the possibility of over-lapping sound. But as the music began those concerns would be eased as we were able to avoid any outside sound from other stages.
The major highlight of the daytime acts was Grace Potter on the Be Stage. What a tremendous performance all around by Grace and her very talented band. I have missed her a few times at prior festivals, so this day was a long time coming. The best surprise act to perform during the daytime on Friday was the band, The Oh Hellos. I know they are touring over the next few months and have some festival dates also ahead (Bonnaroo) so do not miss this up and coming indie folk band from San Marcos, Texas. I have a feeling that this will be their year to shine brightly on the festival circuit.
As nightfall fell upon the lovely area known as Sunshine Grove, we saw some great sets from Bassnectar, Classixx, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Lettuce, Portugal. The Man, and Kamasi Washington. Bassnectar put on his first performance of 2016 to a very, tightly packed crowd of Bassheads and casual fans alike. This was truly a spectacle to see live as Bassnectar had one of the best visual shows I’ve ever seen. Combine that with a great set and you have the very first headliner to perform at OMF. Bravo!
The highlight of Friday night time for me was Kamasi Washington, who was already on my radar prior to attending. He is a very talented Jazz tenor saxophone player backed by a group of brilliant musicians which also includes his father, Rickey. Washington even confessed that they have all known him since he was a kid in some fashion. His extensive resume includes working with the likes of Nas, Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, and Flying Lotus to name a few. I am really excited to also see both Lettuce and Kamasi respectively perform again this June at Bonnaroo.
The next day was stacked with so many great acts but we were properly prepared for the day’s activities and managed to catch sixteen (16) total performances. A few good acts to watch out for from the day time sets of Day 2 include Rayland Baxter, Deer Tick, Shabazz Palaces, Dr. Dog, Lotus, and the legendary, Booker T. Jones. Yes this is the same Booker T. Jones from the band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s of “Green Onions” fame. Shabazz Palaces is a hip hop duo from Seattle that deserves to be known. Featuring one of the members of Digable Planets, Ishmael Butler a.k.a. “Butterfly”, this duo blew me away with their heavily jazz influenced sound. I definitely recommend you checking them out if you have a love for real hip hop.
We also found out during the day that the performance from Kill The Noise would be postponed until the following day due to traveling issues. But in their place would be a surprise second set from the band Lotus. How lucky can we all be having the opportunity to see Lotus play twice on one day? There would be no complaints from us at all. Both of their sets were outstanding and better than expected. I cannot wait to see Lotus jam again in the near future.
I will also add these artists to the list of highlights for Saturday’s night time acts; Kendrick Lamar, Big Gigantic, Miguel, Skrillex, Lotus, and the PoWow! with Miguel x Win Butler, John Oates, Kamasi Washington, and friends. Kendrick Lamar came out very strong while boasting a live band as he tore through his set list of hits to a sea of eager and pleased fans. All I can say is… Wow! Kendrick is on top of his game as a lyricist and a solid hip hop performer. After previously missing him a few times due to scheduling conflicts, he was another artist I was glad to finally get the chance to see perform live.
Sunday’s events were a mixed bag of emotions as it was the last day for this wonderful weekend and I know I was not the only one who was not ready to get back to the real world. We started off the last day a tad bit later than normal but were still able to catch thirteen (13) performances throughout Sunday. Some highlights for the daytime acts on Sunday include; Youth Lagoon, The London Souls, Jason Isbell, and White Denim to name a few.
Ween played a very memorable set to a crowd full of fans young and old at OMF. It was great to see Ween back together and playing to a large group of equally excited fans. One of my personal favorites as long as I can remember and now I am lucky enough to see them a few times this year. Next up I want to touch on the brilliant performance by Big Grams on the Now Stage.
With tracks like Fell in the Sun, Goldmine Junkie, Born to Shine, Lights On, and a Ms. Jackson/Mouthful of Diamonds mash-up to name a few of this incredible set list performed by Big Grams on Sunday. This will be the year for Big Grams as they will appear at the Hangout Music Festival, Sasquatch Music Festival, The Governor’s Ball Music Festival, Bunbury Music Festival, and Bonnaroo Music + Arts Festival.
Festival professionals The Avett Brothers put on one of the best shows of the day with one hit after another before a captivated crowd. Next up was a personal favorite of mine, Odesza and they did not disappoint at all. The crowd was totally mesmerized with this set and everyone around us was fixated on the stage. It seemed like all conversations ceased when Odesza began to play their set. Everyone was focused on the stage and what Odesza had to say. This was my favorite performance of the night time sets on Sunday as they performed right before the festival veteran closers, Mumford & Sons.
Besides doing a great selection of their personal hits, they did do an excellent cover of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers that was worthy of mentioning. And to close it out, that PoWow! with Tom Morello, the Avett Brothers, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band was unbelievable. How else would you be able to see Morello sing “The Ghost of Tom Joad” without seeing Rage Against the Machine live? Simultaneously, what a way to end an unbelievable weekend and start off the 2016 festival season with a bang!
We hope to see you all at next year’s OMF. Stay tuned for a busy festival season that will include The Major Rager, Shaky Knees, Shaky Beats, and Bonnaroo in the coming months for this concert hopper. Get up to date on everything Concerthopper related by following our Instagram and Twitter pages and liking us on Facebook today. You can also follow my personal concert hopping on Instagram (@hxerxest). Thank you all for your continued support!