Okeechobee Fest Celebrates Innovative Music


Okeechobee Music Festival was the memorable cultural and musical experience of the New Year. The first annual festival was held on Friday, March 4th to Sunday, March 6th. Creative international and national artists such as Dungen, White Denim, Big Grams, Kendrick Lamar, and Ween performed fascinating live shows. The event incorporated art, food, music, and outdoor activities for a natural festival experience. Guests had the option of camping in the rural fairgrounds of Okeechobee, Florida. The captivating event introduced the audience to worldly and eclectic music.

Sweden’s Dungen(pronounced Dun-Yen) captivated the audience with their spellbinding performance at the festival. Gustav Ejstes is the producer, arranger, and singer. Their Psychedelic music is enchanting and experimental. Dungen’s self-titled album was released in 2001, debuting their exploratory songs. The group combines their beautiful foreign language with an array of whimsical instrumentals.

Their music carries the listener away to faraway lands. Their cultural influences are depicted in their evocative and chilling sounds. Gustav sings in his native Scandinavian eloquence which is stunning and melancholic. He plays upon the organ keys alongside the quick electric sounds of bass and electric guitars.

Dungen’s dynamic live performance is created by the talented band members: guitarist Reine Fiske, bassist Mattias Gustavsson, and drummer Johan Holmegard. Reine Fiske informed the audience that the group were confused about what time it was. They had flown directly from Scandinavia to the United States so they were unsure if it was daytime or nighttime. Reine and Mattias performed intricately on their exquisite vintage fashioned instruments. Johan performed deep and hollow beats on his drum set. 

Their mesmerizing music evokes numerous feelings in their listeners. At one moment, the listener could feel solace to confusion to bliss. Their fascinating music does not associate to any particular genre. Dungen's is representative of Psychedelic and Experimental Instrumentals. Their sound is a combination of energetic Pop and Psych Folk. The musicians utilize Psychedelic Rock and Smooth Jazz to create ethereal sounds.

The multi-instrumental group combines the natural beauty of sounds with flutes, electric guitars, light drum beats, and clashing cymbals. Gustav Ejstes stated about his music:  “Whether you perceive Dungen as a band or as me and my songs and my productions, the band is something totally free. They take the songs somewhere else.”  Gustav utilizes his musical instincts to create dreamy and timeless music.

White Denim performed an invigorating and unforgettable show. The spunky group from Austin, Texas rocked the Okeechobee Music Festival. Their progressive music incorporates Psych Rock, Blues, and Soul. Their musical influences convey mixtures of Rock and Jazz. James Petralli has an enormous soulful voice. His powerful lyrics are heard through his deep annunciations and abrupt pauses. He shows great effort on stage as he sings the lyrical tunes. He also performs his guitar methodically with his fingertips.

James Petralli strums his guitar as if it were a harp. He makes rough facial gestures as he strikes each chord. White Denim created a Rock and Roll symphony. The group is a large complex orchestra performing precise melodies at each moment on stage. Their live performances are captivating to the viewer because each musician is deeply involved in their role on stage. Steve Terebecki, the blushing bassist, squinted at the audience as he played bass chords. 

Jonathan Horne is the happy go-lucky guitarist with Jazz expertise. Mike St. Clair plays the keys intricately on the double stacked keyboard. Jeffrey Olson masterfully plays heavy beats on the drum. Each band member syncs with each other's musical style. Their live performance was beguiling, interesting, and entertaining. 

Big Grams is a collaborative project between rapper, Big Boi from Outkast, and electronic duo, Phantogram. Sara Barhtel and Josh Carter are the group, Phantogram. Big Boi was inspired by the band’s music and promoted one of their songs on his website. This musical connection led to the band’s collaboration. One of the band member references their music as “psyched out Hip Hop.” The album was number 5 on Billboard’s Top Rap Albums of 2015.

 Big Grams incorporates Hip Hop and electronic sounds. Their music is modern, sexy, and innovative. The songs have powerful beats and bass. The singer’s voice is angelic which blends with the electric sounds. They also incorporate a beat machine and synthesizer. Big Boi is established in the Hip Hop scene. This musical duo shows the need to bridge the gap between Hip Hop and Indie music. This collaboration shows that music does not fall into definitions of labels. Artists from various genres and musical styles should collaborate.