Okeechobee 2017: Home is Where the Portal is [review]
Too soon has the second annual Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival come and gone, just as we suspected it would. Too soon did we have to part ways from the luxuriously lush Sunshine Grove; too soon were we dragged from the sandy paradises of Aquachobee Beach; too soon were we forced to break away from the bonds of new friendships that merely began to blossom. But isn’t that the case with every one of our favorite events?
To no surprise at all, OMF sold out again this year, just as it did for its inaugural event in 2016. Clearly the the producers of the festival, aka Soundslinger LLC, know a thing or two about pulling a crowd – but nothing less should be expected of the masterminds behind massive parties such as the renowned Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Roughly 40,000 patrons showed up to Okee this year, some local, some having traveled across the country to witness this magical and infectious experience. We came, we saw, we conquered, and most importantly, we connected. Every stage, golf cart backseat, food vendor, random patch of grass – there were friends new and old cherishing one another’s presence, basking in the glory of the portal.
Thursday was a full-blown disco delivery courtesy of a DJ set from livetronica act Escort. The Brooklyn-based babes brought a silky, sexy attitude through their Nu-disco bangers, and we even had the pleasure of sitting with the the crew and discussing musical history, influences and more. (coming soon)
The notoriously nasty 12th Planet brought his sound of the underground out to play bright and early on Friday, inflicting Riddim-induced mosh pits in the blazing mid-day Florida heat. Sweltering as it was, the headbangers were as merciless as the devilish drops coming from the dubstep king himself. After opening with Chodegang’s “It’s Chode Gang Motherfucker”, the Smog Records founder continued to destroy the crowd with tracks like Dodge & Fuski and 12th Planet’s “Big Riddim Martian” and Ponicz’ “Apocalypse”. Our honor left a long time before that set.
There’s nothing quite like feeling the sand beneath your feet at Aquachobee Beach, moving and grooving to the soothing yet stimulating sounds of Haywyre. Melodious met energetic as wavy soundscapes entranced dancers in a futuristic frenzy under the shaded structures of the stage.
A tantalizing Toronto-based band goes by the name of BADBADNOTGOOD, and despite what their name might imply, these guys absolutely crush at life. Sultry sax joined drums, keys and bass for a soulful serenade chock-full of whimsical energy in what was a seemingly flawless execution of art. The crew slowed things down for a bit before insanity ensued for the evening, and you know the Friday feels were full-flex come nightfall.
FKJ, short for French Kiwi Juice, is by far one of the most blissful musicians to ever grace this earth. Acting as a one-man-band as he switches off from guitar to bass to keys to sax and more, the French heartthrob will have you completely intoxicated with love by the end of every set, as was the case at Okeechobee. His live electronic productions are truly unique; the organic instrumentation mingles with syncopated beats and feel-good melodies to create a dazzling, dreamlike form of EDM suitable for any mood. His thick dreads swung to and fro as numbers from his newest EP French Kiwi Juice mesmerized his fans, which stretched far and wide on the Here stage.
Dropping ever-popular songs like “Tennis Court” – Lorde (Flume remix) and the chart-topping “Never Be Like You”, Flume kept things hot despite the sun having gone down hours prior to his set.
GRiZ was caught performing a slew of surprise sets in addition to his headlining set, which is character of the Detroit native who is constantly dishing out endless amounts of funk-fueled energy. He even joined 12th Planet and Snails for a bass-heavy throw down at one point. Talk about an intriguing and unexpected trio…
The man, the myth, the legend, the nectar. As you probably guessed, there were herds of bassheads stampeding towards the rail prior to Bassnectar’s headlining set, which unfortunately is a standard occurrence nowadays. Nonetheless Lo catered from the front to the way back of the crowd, melting faces with the roaring ruckus we can’t get enough of, such as “Yes” by Bassnectar and Datsik and “Generate”. As always, the nastiest of vocal edits were seamlessly stitched into bangers like “Massive Attack” (with Mims’ “Like This” layered over), and the West Coast wizard even opened with the nostalgic oldie-but-goodie “Mr. Sandman”. Who would’ve thought.
Never seeming to miss a beat, Anderson .Paak and his band The Free Nationals took to the stage and blew us away with heaters like “Am I Wrong”, as well as dropping some new new that embodied a trippy, trappy vibe.
The next year that stands between us and the third annual OMF will be a long and treacherous one, but the light at the end of the tunnel will be well worth the wait. Catch you on the Grove in 2018. Don’t forget to check out all of our photos in the full album review here.