Music Festivals

Okeechobee Music Festival 2016 Day Three: Future, Big Grams, Mumford & Sons, and More

Festival spirits remained high Sunday as an unobstructed morning sun rose over Sunshine Grove to wake 30,000 "Okeechobeings" from their tents and RVs — for those who managed catch a few Z's coming down from Saturday night's epic high.

By the Okeechobee Music & Art Festival's third and final full day, we were tired, yes. Our toes were crusted black, and our bulk supply of hummus and beer had reached alarming lows. But with a packed schedule featuring some of our most anticipated artists of this weekend, little could get in the way of this bright and breezy Sunday.

As festgoers streamed into the Grove for the day's main events, crop tops and koozies still out in full force, even event staff couldn't help catch the growing party waves for acts like Future, Big Grams, and Mumford & Sons. Passing through the gates (the main stages were accessible by a magically lit up tunnel of trees dubbed the Portal), security staff egged on revelers to hurry up and finish their roadies, taking it upon themselves to incite chugging chants and warning us to hide anything we didn't want to get found.
Post Malone
I was still pumped to catch Post Malone's daytime set, even though I was only slightly bitter his rep had recently denied my request for an interview. I've had the 20-year-old Dallas native's hits "White Iverson" and "What's Up" on repeat through 2015, and though the young rap upstart has yet to put out a full-length release, the cred he's garnered working with a handful of hip-hop heavy hitters since breaking out on SoundCloud had me eager to see what he'd bring to the festival. Based on the crowd he drew at the Now stage during peak afternoon heat, it's clear Post Malone has a lot of fans like me. Unfortunately, as is often the case with inexperienced rap acts, Malone's 30-minute live set fell short. He opened up with his most recognizable and heavily remixed hit, "White Iverson," though it was immediately clear he was just lip-syncing over the original track, the recorded lyrics and music ducking out intermittently whenever he decided to actually rap some of his verses live. He did switch over to mostly live vocals after his shaky intro, rapping with some attempted enthusiasm to his tracks "Too Young" and "That's It," though his voice came off strained rather than smooth and melodic like on his recordings. Instead of getting the audience hyped, the shoddy production of Post Malone's quick set, especially after seeing countless flawlessly executed performances over the weekend, left us underwhelmed.   — Falyn Freyman

After Post Malone's lackluster set, I was counting on rap veteran and one of 2015's most prolific and critically lauded MCs to satisfy my urge to get lit. And though I was a bit nervous to see whether his Auto-Tune-heavy recording style would translate into a live setting — especially one where the sun was still out — Future more than delivered. "Someone just threw a long-ass blunt on the stage," DJ Esco told us before intro'ing the rapper.  Rocking aviators, a white T, and his long dreads pulled back behind a red-and-green bandanna, Future bounded into his set with crazy energy, jumping, bobbing, and dancing across the Now stage to all his bangers, like "Shit," "Move That Dope," "My Savages," "F*ck Up Some Commas," and "Jumpman." The sprawling crowd responded with equal enthusiasm to Future's mix of older and newer tracks, grinding up on each other, lighting up, and passing around what we overheard to be bottles of "Molly water" as the rapper commended us for showing out for our home state and getting daytime turn't— Falyn Freyman

Big Grams
Big Boi and Phantogram playing music together sounds exactly how you might imagine it. Psychedelic atmospheres and cold-ass flows weave in and out of each other perfectly, casting a spell over the whole Okeechobee crowd. They took the Now stage as the evening sun sunk below the illuminated trees. Phantogram is lauded for their live production, but instrumentation took a back seat for mic skills during this performance. The New York duo vied to match the Atlanta legend's swagger, dancing and strutting across the red stage in black leather jackets. After working through a few originals, including “Lights On” and “Goldmine Junky,” they did a perfect Outkast/Phantogram mash-up, rocking out to “Ms. Jackson” merged with “Mouthful of Diamonds” and “The Way You Move” with “Don't Move.” Sometimes it was strange to expect an Outkast chorus and get a Phantogram sing-along, but the energy was hype as fuck. Who doesn't want to hear Outkast? They closed the set with “Fell in the Sun” and “Drum Machine,” welcoming the festival freaks into the darkness of our collective final night. It certainly set a great tone for anyone heading out on a final trip. — Kat Bein

If this festival did anything right, it was represent the hip-hop community, but after so many 808 beats, it was fabulous to fall into the dreamy soundscapes of Odesza's future vibes. The Now stage was jam-packed, overflowing onto the sides and jumping with crafty totems. We couldn't manage to see the band, but it sounded like they were dropping a perfect live set. We did, however, find our friend Joey, who got lost hours earlier in a massive crowd of twisting bodies getting buck as fuck to Future. Odesza's music is kind of the perfect music for finding a lost friend. The Seattle duo's remix of Slow Magic's “Wait 4 U” set the tone of wonder and serendipity. The band washed the place with favors. We were really looking beautiful, guys. They gave us a rework of Zhu's “Faded,” which is exactly how we all felt at the moment; faded, wispy human husks huddling around more joints and beers, hoping to evoke some more magic before heading back to the car line or that mangy tent. As the sweet chords of “Something About You” by Hayden James as reimagined by Odesza wafted through the air, we got a little taste of that escape one more time. — Kat Bein

Mumford & Sons
Holy shit, Okeechobee. Holychoobee, should we say? That's the only word we've got for the phenomenal finish Sunday night at the Be stage. British rockers Mumford & Sons spent the first hour of its two-hour finale by blessing the audience with a collective reminder of the beauty of humanity. Sure, Marcus Mumford dug into us heavy about nearly nominating Donald Trump for president, but he also jumped into the crowd and stayed there for almost an entire song. He kept yelling at people to dance with him. I thought he was going to pass out and die. He got right back on stage and murdered the drums. Let me tell you, there is something special going on when you can jump up and down in with a good thousand or so people and have a massive sing-along to “I Will Wait.” I thought that was it — how could this get any better? Suddenly, they also did a complete about-face and brought out motherfucking Tom Morello. He's like the world-champion turntablist of guitar, playing behind his back, playing with one hand, two hands, HIS MOUTH. It just blew everyone away. They did a couple of duets; then the band left for an encore. They came back with Morello and the Avett Brothers and the PowWow house band of legends to bring the Okeechobee PowWow to the Be stage, performing “House of the Rising Sun” and AC/DC's “You Shook Me All Night Long” and a very Van Halen-sounding rendition of “You Really Got Me.” It was the kind of night you never wanted to end, and Marcus Mumford said they'd definitely be back. Count us in, Marcus. We'll see you next year, Okeechobee.  — Kat Bein
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Falyn Freyman is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Miami. She previously produced videos for Univision and edited music content for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Her work has been featured in Vice, Bustle, Broadly, Time Out, and other publications. She has a master's degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.
Contact: Falyn Freyman
Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.