Festival season has officially started!! What better way, or place, for it to start than in sunny Florida? For those of you that haven’t been to Okeechobee, you are doing yourself a disservice! From EDM to Jam bands, from Old Hip Hop to New…this festival has something for everyone. There aren’t many amazing festivals in Florida like this one. Other than Imagine Fest (which only has 1 year on Okeechobee) this may very well be the best festival in this part of the country.
This years lineup boasted huge names like Flume, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, and Porter Robinson. Outside of the EDM culture there was a surprising Usher and The Roots, as well as Wocka Flocka, Logic, and Wiz Khalifa. Other names made it on the list such as Space Jesus, Ott, Kings Of Leon, Griz, Young the Giant, Snails, D.R.A.M., and so much more.
From the first moment I stepped on the grounds, I was reminded of being there a year ago. Comfort washed over me as I remembered the roundabouts and campsite locations of last year’s festivities. For a festival that’s only in its second year, I was impressed with their organization. I love when festivals block off a certain part of the venue until a later day. Giving you a perception that you are running wild and free, and you have seen SO much in the first day. Then they finally open that area, and your mind practically explodes in realization that you’ve only seen half of everything. One example of such a place was Aquachobee. Why was this so amazing… at least to me? Food trucks, Chris Dyer art gallery (with Sonic Portal inside), Micro VR (Virtual reality Fractal Visuals), Ferris wheel, and no checkpoints so you could just walk in with your drinks/flags/professional cameras!
I personally worked the event through a volunteer company called Work Exchange Team, in exchange for a free ticket. You do have to pay a deposit up front, which is then reimbursed after completing your required shifts. I worked the tollbooth entry points on Thursday morning and Friday night. This was a fun experience because I got to meet people at the highest point of anticipation. Right after they’d pass the security checkpoint, and I was the next person they’d see! I literally engaged with everyone at his or her happiest state of mind. I heard a lot of people saying this was their first festival ever. I love nothing more than hearing that… so many people are being blessed with such a new and invigorating experience such as a music festival. This festival experience provides its guests with workshops and other ways to express and explore themselves.
Day one of Okeechobee was amazing. After I was finished with my first shift I walked around the grounds to get re-acclimated with the layout. It was fairly easy to get around and the signs were well marked to guide you. I then utilized the day to meet with all of my friends and find their campsites. I was excited to see that my neighbors at the campsites were actually people I had met at other festivals! I love to see so many friends from across the country. These friendly reunions are almost as great as the feeling of freedom and flight brought on by passing through the festival grounds gate. A word of advice is to find your friends’ campsites day one because as the party starts and more people file in, reception on phones becomes scarce (as well as battery) and it gets rather crowded.
Day 2 I worked an overnight shift right next to the stage. While directing traffic I got to listen to Waka Flocka, Logic, and Wiz Khalifa. Although I couldn’t see the stage the sound carried well. I loved that Wiz and Waka played the classics…really got the party jumping on a Friday night and set the mood for the weekend; letting us know, it’s time to get down. Logic did his interactive set, which really speaks to me. I love feeling engaged in shows and I heard him asking people their name and age, and even had the whole crowd sing happy birthday right before transitioning into his own song about birthdays. Logic is great because he is really promoting intellectual and progressive hip-hop. In a time where so many people are misguided by musicians and artist’s attitudes… this man is making a path for people to be and feel better. If you have never seen Logic, check him out when he’s nearby. What an amazing artist with great sound control, a positive message. Needless to say, the music on this stage kept me jumping all through my shift. I got off of work just in time to see Flume. Every time I see Flume I am completely blown away. Since I didn’t have reception I was spending the first half hour looking for friends, then when I realized that was a lost cause, I let the music consume me and started moving around with more freedom than purpose. I danced my way through Flume’s awesome DJ skills. The way he sped things up and slowed them down, the hard-hitting bass he used with the defined highs, all worked together to make me move uncontrollably, and honestly forget anyone else was there. After that set ended, I wandered around and eventually found myself at the Incendia stage. For those that don’t know the Incendia stage is a combination of sound and fire that make any show a “heater” for lack of better words. If you’re not ready for sleep you head to what looks like the domes on fire. Placed on the edge of one of water, and surrounded by sand…this beachy, Burning Man style stage makes staying up ’til the sun comes up enticingly fun. With a variety of DJ’s keeping everyone turnt, it’s definitely a go to place.
In the next segment you’ll hear about how I handled this fest with all of my work obligations completed. I’ll detail the sets I saw and describe the scene a little more. Until next time!!
Much love family, Kyle Parker.
Check out full line up and the festival at: http://okeechobeefest.com