OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Music fans of all ages and styles brought their tribes together once again at Sunshine Grove for the 2nd annual Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival from March 2nd through March 5th. Thousands of people from all over the southeastern U.S. and places even farther afield traveled to hear 4 days of non-stop live music, art performances and much more! This is only the second year of the festival and it has SOLD OUT both times!
OMF pulls together an eclectic mix of all styles of music; from EDM stars like Bassnectar to country artists like this year's Grammy winner, Sturgill Simpson. The diversity of the lineup means there's always something for everyone to hear... no matter what your taste in music!
The concert site is well planned and laid out; and there is a small army of security, safety staff, vendors and others making sure every concert goer is taken care of and knows where to go. It's easy to get around between campsites to the Grove, where the 3 main concert stages are set up and where most of the food and beverage stands are located. There are also different sections and gates to allow those who pay extra for VIP status to take faster routes to get in and out of the main stage area. No matter where you are, you are never far from a refreshment or food stand or a Port-a-Potty.
The fans who come to OMF are just as diverse as the lineup of artists. So many different styles and attitudes coming together in one place for one weekend; but everyone is respectful of everyone else and there are no bad vibes. Many also enjoy dressing up in onesies; so many that a late night parade was held on Saturday night featuring all of the brightly colored costumes.. including many that lit up in the dark!
OMF also has its own app that allows you to create your own lineup of acts to follow during the festival; alerting you to when each artist is playing and on which stage. The app also sends important news about what is happening during the festival, as well as weather news; which was very helpful this year when the wind really started kicking up! The gales produced the weekend's must-have clothing accessory: a bandana or other face mask to protect against the sand and dirt being blown around!
The performers also get to enjoy the diversity of the lineup. The artists I got a chance to interview all spoke very highly of the wide range of acts on the bill and they all had favorites they had come to see! I had the chance to interview several performers who were playing OMF for the first time and they all spoke about how they enjoyed being able to go catch other artists' sets when they weren't onstage.
Bonnie X Clyde performed Sunday night but spoke with me earlier about their enthusiasm for performing and for experiencing live music. The duo made their festival debut at "Life in Color MIami' and have played several major EDM festivals since then. They told me why they love playing festivals.
Nitti Gritti is another EDM artist who was playing OMF for the first time. His late night set on Saturday had fans blowing up his Twitter! He got his start playing in bands but soon gravitated toward dance music, without losing his love of rock, which he says really influences his heavy EDM sound. Nitti is also well known in Miami; making his debut at Wynwood Fear Factory during Winter Music Conference. Both Nitti Gritti and Bonnie X Clyde will be performing later this month during Winter Music Conference, so keep an eye out for their performance dates!
The Revivalists are a New Orleans based band that really knows how to play off an audience's energy during a live performance. I first saw them perform at Sunshine Music Festival in Boca Raton last year and was really intrigued by their ability to feed off the fans' reaction and send it right back at them! Lead singer Dave Shaw likes to move around a lot during their concerts, and that led to an emergency trip to the medical tent toward the end of their OMF set.
Futurebirds stopped by the media tent for a quick interview before their Sunday afternoon set. The guys were feeling great and enjoying the "tribal vibe" of OMF. It was their first time at the festival. They raved about Solange's show on Saturday night and grooving to the Michael McDonald superjam, which included the classic Steely Dan hit "Kid Charlemagne"!
All of the live music and fun came to an end with Kings of Leon closing out the festival from the Be Stage on Sunday night. Fans were dancing and singing as they headed back to pack up their campsites and head back home, with the memories of another awesome weekend with friends new and old still ringing in their heads. If you haven't checked out Okeechobee Music Festival yet, don't miss your chance next year! You'll make memories that will last a lifetime!