Day two began early for many at the Okeechobee music festival. A brisk overcast morning, gave way to bouts of sunshine by mid morning. Early birds were already performing group yoga exercises by the time that the thumping of EDM bass faded form the live music stages. Long lines developed early for pay showers and coffee stands. As the main stages area prepared to open at 11am, word came down that the festival had sold out it’s first year capacity.
Aquachobee beach became the early gathering point for many, taking advantage of the warm Florida sunshine and flocking to the beach by the artificial pond. Bikini clad girls hula hooped in the sand, while a large number of the most adventurous festival goers took a plunge into the brown swampy water. Most were oblivious to the DJ laying down ambient sounds on the nearby stage.
The main festival area opened just before noon and the most die hard music fans rushed in to get the best spots in front of the three stages. There was really no need to arrive early for the 14 hours of music at the three main stages. Crowds were pleasantly light well into the late afternoon as many festival goers took advantage of the beautiful weather relaxing at the outer villages. Florida’s own Sunbears opened the festivities, with a nice neo psychedelic Indie music set. The Jacksonville band even had Flowers adorning their equipment. The first band to illicit a fanatical response was the Brooklyn trio Moon Hooch. The two horn players and drummer laid down a loud tribal sound that registered well with the young EDM oriented crowd. The Oh Hellos molded their crowd into a different dance crazed mode. The duo aided by their animated band brought elements of Arcade Fire and Mumford and Sons to their own distinct Americana sound. This band is fast becoming a festival favorite. Another festival staple band, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, brought their Latin sound to the Black Sabbath classic catalog and are always a fun live band. The Vermont band Twiddle brought their own twist to Indie jam music and also had the afternoon crowd pumped. Grace Potter was the first veteran act to grace the stage in late afternoon and seems to step up her explosive live performance on every tour. The animated vixen seems to spend more time on her flying V guitar than her Hammond organ these days, but she plays both equally well. Her intense performance wowed the crowd. She was followed by the most veteran rocker at the festival, Robert Plant. The large crowd watched in almost mystical wonderment as the legendary Led Zeppelin frontman took his phenomenal jam band through the paces. His abbreviated Zeppelin jams, were the biggest crowd pleasers for an ADD generation of Millennials that made up much of the crowd. But many of the youngest in the crowd, at least most of the young girls, were at a different stage, literally swooning to the tunes of pop star. Niykee Heaton. As the young girls shrieked, Heaton commented, “Wow I didn’t think anybody would be here with Robert Plant playing over at the other stage. You must really love me”. That comment illicited an even bigger shriek from the young crowd. Rapper Lil Dicky was the first bona fide rap star of the day to play in early evening and judging by the response, the young crowd had a real affinity with the genre. Later Brooklyn rapper Joey Badass brought the Hip Hop sound to another level with a large crowd gyrating and singing along. Classic rockers Hall and Oates attracted a large evening multi generational audience and pleased the crowd with their guitar skills and campy classic rock hits. RL Grime brought the first huge EDM crowd to a main stage. At the same time one of the best performances of the night went largely unnoticed except for the lucky few who ventured over to the stage. With the incessant thumping of the EDM bass in the background, from RL Grimes set, Kamasi Washington took the stage. With a brilliant band of seasoned jazz musicians, Washington lead the group with his amazing Saxophone skills into jazz rock jam territory previously uncharted. Reminiscent of great jazz legends like Miles Davis and Billy Cobham, but with a modern twist, this was the most musically talented band of the night and possibly of the whole festival.
As the midnight hour fell the biggest crowd of the night descended on the main stage to hear Bassnectar and his ear shattering bass heavy EDM sound. A spectacular light show lit up the frenzied crowd, many looking like metal thrasher fans, in the way they fiercely swung their heads to the thick bass beat. The other stages featured late night sets of jam music, including Alaska’s Portugal The Man, playing their fierce rock laden jam music. But the set by consumate jam band Lettuce was even more intense, with young EDM fans stumbling over after Bassnectar’s set had ended. As the early morning hours wore on, the most hardy EDM fans wandered over to the jungle for a surreal EDM experience surrounded by an awesomely lit Florida grove.