By Shanell Curry –Okeechobee Music Festival is only in its second year and
already feels like an established music festival. The grounds are decorated with wonderful sculptures and elaborate stages all highlighted by the beautiful scenery.
We arrived late Thursday and set up camp. Festival goers are usually a friendly bunch, and we quickly got to know our neighbors. After setting up we explored Moonlight Oasis, which housed the smaller stages and most of the vendors. There was also an awesome dance area called Jungle 51, which was marked by a spaceship crash site. There were DJ’s playing mostly that night and not many people milling about yet. Everyone was trying to get the lay of the land and figure out what this festival had to offer. There was also a beach area with lots of sand and the largest stage in the Moonlight Oasis, called Aquachobee. Like most festivals there was also a huge Ferris Wheel you could ride, to get a breathtaking view of the grounds.
On Friday the main venue area called The Grove was open. We listened to Jacob Banks perform at the Here stage first. His soulful voice mesmerized the crowd as he sang “Worthy” and “Monster”. This was his first festival stateside, and he was received incredibly well. Perpetual Groove also played on the Here stage in the afternoon. After watching them for a while we wandered over to the Be stage where the Funky Dawgz Brass Band brought tons of New Orleans’ style flair to Florida. We explored the main grounds and familiarized ourselves with the stage layouts. They were close together, which is unusual for festivals. The way they were oriented made the acoustics great, and there wasn’t much sound bleed from other stages.
Saturday started out for us with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. The crowd noticed a difference with George, as he didn’t have his signature rainbow-colored hair. They tore the house down with their incredible energy. Crowd favorites like “Flashlight” and “We Want the Funk”, and one hell of a guitar solo was some of the highlights of the show. After dancing to George and shaking hands with Sir Nose, we drifted from stage to stage listening to various artists while waiting for our next show. We watched The Revivalists perform at the Be stage next. Gallant was the next act we saw. He amazed everyone with his voice and stage presence. It’s a performance that I won’t soon forget! Solange performed Saturday evening and made a surprise appearance at the Pow Wow performance that night as well. Michael McDonald headlined the Pow Wow. He performed a duet of “What a Fool Believes” with Solange and it was wonderful! We ended our night by watching Usher and The Roots perform to a massive crowd. Their rendition of “Jungle Boogie” was exactly what we needed to end our day on a fun note.
Sunday was less busy for us. We took the time to really explore The Moonlight Oasis during the day, and see what all the vendors had to offer. The mood was very mellow, and you can tell that most of the attendees were a bit worn out. We kept to that mellow mood by watching Soja perform at the Now stage in the afternoon. That evening we watched The Lumineers perform to a massive crowd at the Be Stage. “Ho Hey” had everyone screaming on their feet. Kings of Leon closed the festival out for us. They opened up with “Closer” and kept the crowd going the whole time.
Okeechobee 2017 was a huge success, and already has plenty of devoted followers eager to attend for years to come. I’m definitely one of them.