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Okeechobee: The Portal to Another World [Event Review]

This past weekend, for the second year in a row, over 35,000 festivalgoers poured into the Sunshine Grove in Okeechobee, Florida for four days of sun, camping and a line up for the record books. And I was one of the lucky ones who got to experience it all.

Related: Okeechobee 2017 Live Sets

The gates to Sunshine Grove opened on Thursday morning with the festival kicking off in the evening. I didn't arrive until Friday morning since I was coming in from Dallas, but as soon as my wristband was scanned, I was officially ready to enter the portal to a magical world of music and arts. Upon arrival, you're immediately spit out into an endless amount of tents, canopies and fellow festival friends roaming the enormous campgrounds. After strategically scouting a spot that was centrally located in between the main stages and center of the festival, as well as the exit for when it came time to head back to reality, myself and three friends set up camp and went exploring.

First, we scoped out other parts of the campgrounds and made friends with all the bass heads we could find. Then we headed to The Grove–where we'd find the The Grove, which housed the three main stages, Yogachobee–a spiritual area with yoga and meditation classes hosted regularly, Chobeewobee Village–a small stage area with various vendors and items for sale, and of course, Aquachobee–the stage located on a beach (complete with a Ferris wheel) just northeast of the main stages. After grabbing a Corona from the one of many Corona Houses and taking in the beautiful energy, spirit & people that radiates out of the portal, it was time to catch our first show of the day.

The Friday music festivities began with Louis the Child, Waka Flocka Flame, Snakehips, Space Jesus, Mac Demarco, Wiz Khalifa and finally, one of my personal favorites – Flume. Some will complain that the audio was an issue at all of Okeechobee, potentially limiting the full experience by big guys, such as Flume. But I have to disagree, after seeing Flume live at Decadence in Colorado just a few months ago and being blown away, I didn't think it was possible to be blown away again. And that's just what happened. Original constructs, new sounds, impeccable remixes. Flume really outdid himself this time. See below for proof. A few of my other favorites from the evening were Snakehips, Space Jesus & Wiz Khalifa.

So now it's time that I share some critical information and one of the reasons why this festival is severely underrated and has yet to get the credit it really deserves. If you've been following along, you know that the Okeechobee folks planned for an all-night stage, Jungle 51, for the ravers looking to rock out until the earlier morning lights. But too much surprise, this stage wasn't the only spot going off into the wee hours of the morning. There were literally surprise set after surprise set that keep all the campers going hard all. night. long. One of the most notable ones was Friday night for 12th Planet B2B Snails B2B GRiZ. I unfortunately missed this set, which is incredibly disheartening since Snails happens to be one of my all-time favorites, but from what I heard it was one of the dirtiest, filthy sets to date.

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There was also rumor of the ultimate “PoWoW!” which included collabs from Michael McDonald, Solange, Vulfpeck, GRiZ, Eric Krasno and more.

Photo credit: Brian Hensley

After some much needed sleep, all of the okees woke up to sunny weather, semi-intense winds and another day of full festing. This is where I need to talk about the accommodations of the festival, because, frankly everything was organized in a pretty great way. Porta-potties (although still porta-potties) were strategically placed all over the massive campgrounds so you were never a far walk away. The line for the showers was short, the water was hot and you left the shower house actually feeling refreshed. This was the one thing I was nervous about because I had heard some rumors, but no issues here this year. It's important to note that they did charge a daily shower fee, which may account for why the set up seemed somewhat VIP.

The daylight was usually spent gallivanting around the festival grounds looking for new friends, shopping unique & custom merchandise and, of course, setting up shop at the Aquachobee beach. With music starting as early as noon, there was always good vibes to jam to. Keynotes from early Saturday include Whethen & The Floozies. My first big set of the day was GRiZ. This was my first time to see him and I definitely was impressed. Incorporating a saxophone is really the way to go if you're trying to instill great vibes as the sunsets on The Okeechobee Grove.

The rest of the evening is what I'll refer to as the bass head's dream – Snails, Bassnectar and Porter Robinson, to round out the night. Snails wooed us all with his dirty, filthy vomit step that had the entire crowd breaking their necks. And then it was on to Bassnectar, which it's safe to say that a solid 50-60% of the festival goers were here to see him, as is typically the case. Loren played a solid variety of old and new and had all of his fans (myself included) feeling the most ultimate of vibes. The real stand out of the night was Porter Robinson and his live set. He played a completely original version of his “Worlds” set that soared to the most epic and ultimate new heights. He opened with a unique version of “Sad Machine” and even sang the lyrics to “Divinity.” He also channeled some serious “Shelter” vibes with newly mastered remixes and versions. Telling us that this was possibly “one of his favorite sets ever,” he put on the most epic show to date (coming from someone who's seen him five times). You can watch the full set in its entirety below.

Sunday morning came and went as most of us were all still on a metaphorical high from the magical music we witnessed all day Saturday. But we weren't done yet. As the last official day in the festival, the plan was to soak up as much music as we possibly could. Early afternoon was spent in a yoga class at Yogachobee. Before kicking off the performances with blues-y awesomeness that is Allen Stone (featuring Blind Boys of Alabama), Soja and Mike Posner. From there, I was able to catch Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals, before splitting my time between Joey Purp & Ganja White Night. The rest of the evening was spent with Pretty Lights and their live set, D.R.A.M and then headliner, Kings of Leon. Kings of Leon did not disappoint in the slightest. Their set was full of straight “Sex on Fire” vibes in the best kind of way.

My first time for both D.R.A.M. and Pretty Lights, I was entranced in completely different (and good ways). The rhythmic beauty that radiated from Pretty Lights was something I'll never forget. Most excited for D.R.A.M.'s most popular track with Lil Yachty “Broccoli,” I'll say that he threw it down all over the place. He truly is quite the performer.

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