By Flynn Snyder
Despite ongoing concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival delivered an unforgettable, action-packed experience to attendees earlier this month. Over the course of four days, festivalgoers immersed themselves into the self-dubbed “portal” to experience dazzling headliners, one of a kind spiritual experiences and even an unexpected rocket launch.
Upon entering the portal, it is easy to be immediately plunged into the festival atmosphere: long, flowy hippie outfits are popular, rave goggles are in heavy supply and sound-reactive, light-up masks are the latest fashion trend. DJ Hot Sauce took it upon himself to try out the rave goggles and light up masks in order to deliver the most in depth coverage possible, not because he thought they were really cool (he totally did). Large, lit up palm trees border much of the festival grounds creating a dream like setting teleporting one to a cross section between a natural, tropical setting and sci-fi futuristic technology.
The venue itself is set up on an 800-acre setting that took us the full four days to explore. We spent the majority of our time at the two main stages, BE and NOW, where we watched many of the headlining acts, more on those later. The HERE stage housed many of the EDM sets. Packed in a large event tent, the audience at HERE was transported into the world of EDM with hypnotizing visuals, infectious music and surreal ceiling projections. Jungle 51 was also a must-visit. This area, surrounded completely by palm trees, provides and even deeper escape from the outside world. Lasers are constantly projected off of disco balls hanging from palms trees creating a club atmosphere where festivalgoers could rage the night away after headliners finished their sets. Other notable points include Aquachobee, where festival goers can listen to a lakeside set, and finally the Chobeewobee village: the go to place for all things festival fashion and experience.
Food and art were also main aspects of the festival. Certainly, keeping up with the times, Okeechobee not only provided traditional festival fare but also had plant-based street food options as well as many gourmet food trucks. Large metallic sculptures of elephants and tigers lined the pedestrian walkways of the portal. Many DJs also hosted healing sessions that used sounds to sooth the soul. There were also guided meditation groups and sunrise sets that allowed festivalgoers to rave through the night.
We’ll have more on the musical standouts and surprises in future blog posts, for now though, we’ll give some of the highlights.
Australian alternative dance group RÜFÜS DU SOL opened up night one of the festival, but our highlight from opening night is definitely rock and electropop group A R I Z O N A, whose guitarist crowd surfed in an inflatable unicorn and still managed to keep playing. Rapper Gunna gave one of the most hype performances of the entire weekend on Friday night. The standout on Friday, though, didn’t even come from any of the musical acts. During DJ Bassnectar’s headlining set, American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket’s glow, visible to festivalgoers at Okeechobee and added to the already impressive production of pyrotechnics and lasers. Other standouts included a musically-rich set from alternative band Vampire Weekend and an electrifying set from electronic producer GRiZ. We’ll have more about the standouts and surprises in future blog posts, but for now that’s our recap of Okeechobee!
*All Photos Curtesy of Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival Facebook.*