It’s been two years since the Okeechobee Music & Arts festival last transformed Sunshine Grove into a hotbed of cultural excursions and explorations, but Florida music lovers’ long wait is about to come to an end.
Returning after taking 2019 off and now under new management, the 2020 OMF experience is sure to reignite the same passions that its three previous iterations brought to life, with a lineup that features some of the biggest names in indie and electronic music.
With that said, here are some quick tips for first-time attendees who don’t know the ropes of making it through a camping festival in one piece. And for anyone who’s grown rusty since the last time Okeechobee graced the Sunshine State, they may very well serve as a refresher course.
- Do not forget your water bottle. Of all the necessities that a camping festival requires, this one is undoubtedly the most crucial. Don’t be caught without it.
- Prepare your wardrobe for any and all weather possibilities. Don’t make the same boneheaded mistake that this writer made in 2017– it may very well get cold at night. Just because we’re in Florida doesn’t mean you’ll be comfortably warm for the entirety of the ling weekend. Temperatures in Sunshine Grove have been known to dip into the 50’s in the wee hours of the morning, and the ground underneath a tent can be cold and unforgiving.
- Arrive together. Being stuck with a long hike from your campsite to the stages is bad enough, don’t get caught miles away from your friends. Campsites are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so you won’t be able to hold a spot for your buddies who are running a few hours late.
- Plan your schedule in advance. It’s not as easy as you may think to get from stage to stage, and none of us can be in two places at once.
- Pace yourself. Four days of music that stretch late into the night are taxing even on the most energetic attendees. Be careful not to party too hard on Thursday night, or you may just ruin the rest of your weekend.
Sets we’re most excited for:
A completely and totally subjective preview featuring the sets that we’re most looking forward to at Okeechobee 2020. Sorry, Bassnectar. As with the 2018 iteration of OMF, the festival’s greatest strength is that its lineup can appeal to fans of many different genres in equal measure; these just happen to be the acts that piqued our interest.
- Rüfüs Du Sol. This ascendant Australian alternative dance group is returning to Florida for the first time since a headlining gig at Bayfront Park in May of 2019, for what is perhaps its most high-profile show yet: headlining a major music festival. The rest of Thursday’s lineup doesn’t feature any standout acts, but this headliner is sure to kick OMF 2020 off to a rousing start.
- Lotus. One of the only true jam bands on this year’s lineup, Lotus will be closing out the NOW stage on Friday night with what’s sure to be a mind-bending blend of instrumental and electronic improvisations.
- Caamp. This folk project has grown rapidly since the release of its self-titled EP in 2018, amassing tens of millions of streams for songs like “Vagabond” and “All the Debts I Owe.” This 5:30 p.m. set on the main stage should be a fitting way to usher in the evening on Friday.
- Gunna. After a 2018 lineup that featured major hip-hop acts like Travis Scott and Snoop Dogg, Gunna is the most high profile rapper scheduled to perform in the grove this year.
- Special Guest– It’s probably going to be Bassnectar, right?
- Vampire Weekend. The NYC indie-rock band that put on one of South Florida’s best concerts of 2019 is back in the Sunshine State, this time for a headlining set at OMF on Saturday night. Okeechobee and Vampire Weekend are a match made in heaven, with the band’s recent direction positioning it as a millenial answer to the Grateful Dead and Phish. Better yet, the band’s 90-minute headlining set will be immediately followed by a PowWow! that’s set to include special guests. Keep your eyes peeled for a sure-thing appearance by Haim, along with other surprises.
- Haim. This Los Angeles-based trio of sisters rocketed to the top of the indie/alternative world with the release of their 2013 debut Days are Gone, and they’ve been particularly active of late with the release of three singles in the back half of 2019. Haim has always had a strong collaborative relationship with headliners Vampire Weekend, so keep your eyes peeled for an indie team-up during the evening’s main stage-closing “PowWow.”
- Clairo. Indie-pop singer-songwriter Clairo seemingly came out of nowhere in 2019 to become a darling of indie radio stations everywhere, and this performance on the NOW stage will mark a quick return to South Florida following two appearances last year.
- Blood Orange. Originally set to perform at Okeechobee in 2017, Blood Orange was unceremoniously dropped from the lineup with little fanfare before the event began. Since then, this project of Dev Hynes released the critically acclaimed Negro Swan and brought a riveting set to the main stage of last year’s III Points music festival.
- Cory Wong (of Vulfpeck fame) I didn’t know it at the time, but missing Vulfpeck’s set at the 2017 edition of Okeechobee was my most tragic misstep of the weekend. At the time, I’d yet to discover the supernaturally talented funk collective, and this time I won’t miss a chance to see some of that same energy on display in the Grove.
- Lucy Dacus. One of the lineup’s lesser-known singer-songwriters, Lucy Dacus should be a must-see for indie music devotees at this year’s iteration of Okeechobee. Her recent work, which includes the much-praised Historian, a stint with indie supergroup Boygenius, and the excellent yet underrated EP 2019, should prove to be a pleasant detour into acoustic-adjacent territory within a sea of DJs.
- Glass Animals. This english outfit has come a long way since its genre-defying debut back in 2014, and the group is kicking off its long-awaited return to the stage after taking time off due to an accident that incapacitated drummer Joe Seaward. If recent singles “Tokyo Drifting” and “Your Love (Deja Vu)” are any indication, Glass Animals are ripe for a comeback to the top tier of the indie-pop world.
Boca magazine will be on site at Okeechobee 2020 to share the best and worst of South Florida’s signature camping music festival experience. Stay tuned for coverage throughout the weekend.
Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival. March 5-8, Sunshine Grove, 12517 NE 91st Ave, Okeechobee. www.okeechobeefest.com