Going to the beaches of Florida is a hallmark spring break tradition for college students along the East Coast, but some students look for something more culturally potent than drinking Bud Light on the beach for a week.
Music festivals offer a sort of reclusive place where friends can come together to make art, explore musical genres, and camp out along the beach. Okeechobee Music and Arts festival in Okeechobee, Florida lies at the intersection between beach-side escape and transcendent music festival.
Produced by Soundslinger LLC, the minds who brought forth Bonnaroo and Electric Forest, the Ockeechobee festival ran for four days from March 2-5. Despite that it is only in its second year, the festival sold out of all ticket levels — bringing 36,000 campers into Sunshine Grove for four days of music, art and community building.
Interactive art installations made of recycled materials lined the 800 acre venue and provided spaces for groups of festival-goers to meet up and take a break from the stages. The stages themselves were works of art to their right.
On the beach, the Incindia stage glowed with cannons blasting flames and performers spinning fire ong poi and hula hoops. The techno-blasting Jungle stage was lined with laser beams that reflected off the hundreds of palm trees and created intricate motifs against the illuminated stage.
The festival’s lineup was as diverse as its attendees and included headliners from The Lumineers to Anderson Paak. Rap legends Wiz Khalifa and Waka Flocka Flame added hip-hop flavor to electronic songs,by creating re-works that spanned across various genres.
Funk legend George Clinton brought the crowd to their feet with an afternoon performance alongside members of Parliament and Funkadelic. Electronic-music connoisseurs Bassnectar and Pretty Lights made the crowd wobble with lush, layered melodies swimming alongside their infamous heavy bass lines.
Richmond was well represented at the South Florida festival. There were multiple “King of Pops” stands vending throughout the venue and a VCU flag waving high above the crowds.
Travel agency “JusCollege” sold discounted wristbands that supplied students with tickets parking passes and a college-specific camping areas. VCU student Laurel Gates said that the package allowed her to camp close to her friends and meet spring breakers from VCU, James Madison University, and other southern schools.
“The camping situation was perfect because even if we weren’t right next to our friends, they had all of the students together in a smaller area right near the beach,” Gates said. “I keep running into people from Richmond and VCU and it’s really cool to have everyone here.”
VCU student Sameer Khataybeh said that he went to the festival to see some of his favorite artists. “I’ve seen some of the artists before in Richmond but a lot of them are too big of names to stop by the smaller cities,” Khataybeh said. “I went for both: spring break and to see the my favorite artists like Bassnectar, Kings of Leon, and GRiZ.”
Lia Tabackman, Contributing Writer