Here Are the Top Ten Acts You Should Know About at Okeechobee Fest 2016

Lil Dicky's brand of shameless rap-comedy went viral in 2015.
Lil Dicky's brand of shameless rap-comedy went viral in 2015.
Photo courtesy of the artist

You already know the headliners. Mumford & Sons, Robert Plant, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, Bassnectar, Odesza, Hall & Oates, the Avett Brothers, Future, Miguel... We could go on listing the impeccable top-of-the-bill lineup at this year's inaugural Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, officially opening its gates this March 3 at noon.

But what about the dozens of other acts comprising the eclectic, multigenre lineup featuring bands and DJs from around the world? Carefully curated by Bonaroo veteran Paul Peck and his team of industry masterminds, Okeechobee Fest will feature three stages and four days' worth of incredible music across virtually all genres. And since we know it's physically impossible to make it to every one, we've picked out ten of our favorite lesser-known acts to make choosing your days' adventures a bit simpler.

Here are the top ten acts you should know about at Okeechobee Fest 2016:

10. Cameo Culture

Brooklyn-based Cameo Culture emerged early last year from his previous "Soho808" moniker as the latest Wolf+Lamb label associate to bring his particular brand of slinky, jazz-influenced beats to a chilled-out living-room hangout or steamy dance floor near you. A classically trained jazz pianist and professional mixing engineer with styles that range from disco to ambient sounds, Cameo Culture describes his latest project as "an outlet for me to take analog synthesizers and drum machines and write music people can dance to." He released his Burning Bright full-length last year and has since gained a steady following touring the world, putting out mixtapes, and dropping funky new EPs and edits along the way.

9. Damian Lazarus

Fans of underground, deep-house sounds will already be familiar with Crosstown Rebels label owner Damian Lazarus, who has has played in jungles, on the Galápagos Islands, in an igloo, and in deserts around the world. A sort of mythological renaissance man of dance music who currently lives on a farm in Italy, Lazarus has strong Miami ties and has brought his legendary Get Lost parties to sweaty WMC ravers year after year. Last May, he dropped his latest album, Messages From the Other Side, which he described as "the culmination of my life and... the record I always wanted to make," in an interview with our sister paper, Miami New Times. After dropping a dark and dreamy set at Wynwood's III Points Music Festival this past October, Lazarus will bring his signature tribal, Burning Man vibes to headline the dusk-till-dawn Jungle 51 stage.

8. White Denim

Austin's White Denim has been churning out its dub, psychedelic, and blues-infused garage-rock tunes since 2006, garnering acclaim from indie darlings like Pitchfork and SXSW ever since. With a new album, Stiff, set to drop this spring, White Denim recently shared two tracks from its jammy nine-track followup to 2013's Corsicana Lemonade. Premiered via Nerdist earlier this week, "Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)" is an uplifting, feel-good funk tune chock-full of groovy breakdowns sure to get you into the festival spirit at Okeechobee. 

7. Michael Christmas

Michael Christmas is the 21-year-old Boston rapper whose awkwardly smooth "Michael Cera" track and accompanying video clip garnered national attention in 2013, when he first dropped his Is This Art? mixtape. This past October, Christmas celebrated the release of his first official full-length, the super-chill, West Coast-flavored 18-track What a Weird Day, with features from Mac Miller, Logic, and D.R.A.M. A self-professed outcast, Christmas told Noisey in a recent interview his latest album is "me saying that this weird kid, who walked around this city invisible for 20 years of his life, is now being seen everywhere.” And you'll want to keep an eye out for what's next — lately, he's been caught hanging with everyone from A-Trak to Chance the Rapper.

6. Dr. Dog

Dr. Dog first came together in 1999 after leads Toby Leaman (bass guitar) and Scott McMicken (lead guitar) met in the eighth grade, though it wasn't until 2004, when My Morning Jacket invited them to join on two of their tours, that they really found a following. While their early sound drew heavy influence from '60s rock classics like the Beatles and Beach Boys as well as the lo-fi indie sensibility of the '90s, their current sound is a refreshing and eclectic blend of neopsychedelia, baroque pop, and indie folk that evokes an airy timelessness as well as their small hometown of West Grove, Pennsylvania. 

  5. Joey Bada$$

When Brooklyn's Pro Era poster child Joey Bada$$ talks about energy, he's not just trying to get the crowd hyped. At 20, he might be young, but the rapper who's known for his technical flow and old-school flavor is also pretty damned spiritual. When he's not taking reporters crystal shopping in new-age stores of NYC, balancing his chakras, and "riding life's waves," he's penning deeply thoughtful, complex rhymes that indicate Bada$$ functions on some next-level planes of existence. "You know how this works," Bada$$ recently instructed the crowd at Revolution Live, shaman-style, as he took in their simmering energy. "I only put back out the energy y'all put in." At that October show in Fort Lauderdale, Bada$$ showed he knows how to handle a crowd with deftness, especially for a performer of his age, crafting a set that built steadily on itself, with peaks and valleys timed just right.

4. Post Malone

There was hardly a wrapper who didn't remix Post Malone's super-trill breakout hit "White Iverson" last year. The up-and-coming, 20-year-old Dallas rapper released his now-ubiquitous track via SoundCloud back in February and has since blown up, collaborating with heavy-hitters like 50 Cent and Young Thug. With more than 100 million views on YouTube, there's a good chance you've bumped "White Iverson" while driving down 95 or balling at the gym, but his subsequent releases, like "Too Young," "What's Up," and "Tear$," have also garnered popularity, demonstrating that the young upstart who played in a heavy-metal band in high school has more up his sleeve.

3. Rayland Baxter

Born and raised in Nashville the son of relatively famed slide guitarist Bucky Baxter (who's played with the likes of Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams), alt-country heartthrob Rayland Baxter emerged in 2010 with a feature on country singer Caitlin Rose's song "Shanghai Cigarettes" and has since honed his own brand of indie-Americana on two full-length releases. His latest album, 2015's Imaginary Man, was hailed by Stereogum as "an impeccable sophomore break-out," with vocals as gorgeous and dreamy as Marcus Mumford's, though Baxter's more subdued stylings and eclectic influences, from Latin and gospel to indie and outlaw, stand out all their own. Though the aforementioned Mumford & Sons top the bill at Okeechobee Fest, Baxter is an up-and-comer whose swampish, '70s vibes will fit in perfectly for a sunny afternoon set in the grove.

2. Shabazz Palaces

Made up of Ishmael Butler, AKA Palaceer Lazaro (formerly Butterfly of Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire, son of Mbira master Dumisani Maraire, Seattle-based Shabazz Palaces became one of a handful of hip-hop groups signed to famed indie label Sub Pop after anonymously self-releasing two EPs in 2009. The self-described "abstract" group known for pulling soundbites and influences from podcasts and mixtapes to African percussion and jazz also has ties to Black Constellation, an artist collective known for hosting its "Black Weirdo" party series in Seattle, Toronto, New York, and Minneapolis. Late last year, Shabazz Palaces came together with fellow experimental hip-hop artists Flying Lotus and Thundercat to form WOKE, a collaborative project featuring Parliament-Funkadelic legend George Clinton.

1. Lil Dicky

If you haven't already heard about Lil Dicky, apologies in advance. Dubbed by New Times as "one of rap's most unlikely newcomers," the MC otherwise known as David Burd grew up a scrawny Jewish kid in a small town just outside of North Philly. A witty and entrepreneurial dude who emerged in 2014 from the weird and wonderful YouTube underbelly with a ridiculous and infectious diddy called "Lemme Freak," Lil Dicky has since collaborated with major players like Snoop Dogg, Rich Homie Quan, and Fetty Wap to hone a pretty serious rap/comedy career. His latest track, a hilarious ode to living on the cheap, went straight-up viral after it dropped with an accompanying music video produced entirely by shameless handouts and favors requested by the rapper and documented in the clip. Love it or hate it, Lil Dicky has undeniable hustle and a quick, pithy flow that's more than just schtick.

Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival
With Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex, Bassnectar, and others. March 3 to 6 at Sunshine Grove, 12517 NE 91st Ave., Okeechobee. Three-day advance passes start at $269.50. Visit okeechobeefest.com.


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