Three keys to having a good festival, whether at Okeechobee Music Festival or elsewhere is:
1) Find people who make plans and follow through. My first festival was Bonnaroo 2011. There were five of us planning to go and only two of us bought our tickets. We didn’t know each other yet had to share a tent for four nights. That was an awkward introduction into festivals.
2) Come prepared. You might be coming to the festival to get weird, let loose, and act like a teenager again, but be an adult and pack wisely before you get there. Food, toiletries, and clothes for any type of weather.
3) Love your crew, but don’t get clingy. Split up, get out of your comfort zone, go explore, see new bands, make new friends. This is a choose-your-own-adventure, don’t do the same thing you would at home.
Megan and I have this thing down pretty well. This was our fourth festival together (two Roos and the initial OMF). We’ve gone just us and with a group. This year Damon joined us and we added a rental RV to the mix.
Okeechobee has three main stages (BE, HERE, NOW) and multiple smaller areas outside of the grove for DJs and live sets. This year was sold out to 36,000 people! Art installments, a tea lounge, yoga, beach, and vendors give one plenty to do and see. Not to mention every person attending is an art installment in their own right.
Thursday was the day to settle in, then Friday was Waka Flocka Flame, VHS Collection, some Cold War Kids, Wiz Khalifa, and Flume.
I knew Saturday was my day. I could feel it in the air when I woke up that morning. I started the festivities off with my fifth Revivalists show where David gashed his head open only to keep giving it his all. (You can see shows 1 and 2 here.)
I gave my front row spot back to a Bassnectar fan dressed as the poop emoji 💩 and decided to wander over to the NOW stage.
The crowd for Sleigh Bells was less than superb, but at least that put me right up front for Snails, a DJ I had heard through Imagine Fest. You guys. Snails. Melted my brain. Insane!
It was there I met my new fest friends. Scott and his brother Steven are born-and-raised Tampa boys and part of a group called the Rave Muffins. Scott found it hilarious that a small girl like myself would actually be up front head banging to Snails alone. They even formed a barrier to keep me safe when a mosh pit broke out.
Scott became my portal guide. We navigated through the crowd to find a spot to people watch and wait for Bassnectar and Usher and the Roots. Megan and Damon were up as close as they could get so I was happy to chill with these Rave Muffins.
The Rave Muffins are a huge group that seem to know all the keys to festival success. They came with twenty or so people and formed a tent tribe right outside of the Grove. They can even be found on the news for being first in line both this year and last. They seem to be really genuine people- interesting characters that know how to party, vibe, and form truly strong ties, whether life-long brotherhoods or fest-to-fest friendships.
(Because fest friendships are the best friendships. 😜)
Sunday, Megan and Damon met the guys and into the Grove we went to see Bleachers, The Lumineers, Pretty Lights, and Kings of Leon.
A few of us brought in the morning laying on Scott’s parachute at the beach at the midnight secret show. DJ after DJ appeared and we were surrounded by lit hula hoops, flames, and strobe lights.
It was over way too soon and again I’m left wondering why reality can’t be just a little more like a music festival. Thousands of people craving good vibes, peace, friendship, and tunes.
Life is good, people. Treat yo self. Gather a crew, pack your bags, and go have fun!
I’m already planning a Tampa trip and making Shakey Knees plans. Who’s with me?