The Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival kicks off its fifth edition this weekend. After canceling the 2021 edition, the festival returns to Sunshine Grove, welcoming more than 100 artists across six stages.
While the four-day event includes plenty of hard-hitting headliners like Meghan Thee Stallion and Tame Impala, there's an abundance of talented smaller acts to look out for if you want to make the most of your festival experience.
For music lovers of all genres, here, listed in alphabetical order, are ten underrated acts worth making time for at Okeechobee this year.
Not to be confused with the American funk band "Black Carl," Black Carl! (real name Carl Bell) is an electronic artist based in Alabama. Unlike many of the more mainstream EDM acts at Okeechobee, Black Carl! 's music brings with it some darker, metal-inspired production reminiscent of the hardcore bands he grew up listening to. Songs like "Sludge Contract" and "Differentiate" are heavy and bass-driven, not unlike the industrial music popular in much of the electronic music spaces of the '90s. Still, Black Carl! doesn't stick to just one sound — as exemplified most starkly in 2021's "Act Up!" — and his set will include tracks that appeal to a range of audiences. 1 to 2 a.m. Saturday, March 5, at Incendia Stage.
Photo by Abby Orons
New York City-based songwriter, bassist, and producer Blu DeTiger is known primarily for the TikTok bass covers she shared during the pandemic. Though she's had experience touring with indie mainstays like Caroline Polachek and Fletcher and DJ'ing her own sets ever since her days at New York University, her popularity only continues to grow. Even at this stage of her career, she has some original viral hits under her belt — the most notable of which is 2020's "Figure it Out." Her music is beyond danceable, characterized by funky, complex basslines and a unique cool-girl flair. An already prolific performer (she started playing at the CBGB as a child and has taken over club scenes since), DeTiger is a must-see. 4:55 to 5:55 p.m. Friday, March 4, at BE Stage.
Photo courtesy of Demand Artists
Chicago-based DJ and producer Hiroko Yamamura is inspired by the city's vibrant techno scene, "classic science fiction, and dark anime." Pulling directly from her status as one of the most sought-after DJs in the Second city, songs like "Midwest Panic" call to her roots while simultaneously positioning her as a rave and club staple. Her music is cerebral, thumping, and expansive, making her something of a standout in the Okeechobee lineup. Yamamura captivated crowds at Chicago's biggest house-focused festival, ARC, late last fall, and house and EDM lovers alike are sure to revel in her Okeechobee set. 11:30 p.m. to 3:15 a.m. Friday, March 4, at Jungle 51 Stage.
Photo by Niki Cram
Taylor Character, who goes by the stage name HoneyLuv, has made a name for herself in dance and R&B scenes alike. Currently based in L.A., the former NCAA basketball player and U.S. Navy sailor produces house music primarily characterized by restless techno beats and sultry vocals. She's popular in the L.A. club scene and on Twitch
, where she plays sets filled to the brim with Afrobeat and hip-hop influences. With tracks like 2021's "Paradise" with Hugo Cantarra and featuring OMEM and "F R E E" in her repertoire, HoneyLuv promises an exciting performance at Okeechobee. Billboard
has called her a 2022 artist to watch — and New Times
couldn't agree more. 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at Aquachobee Stage.
Singer, songwriter, and producer Mia Gladstone makes alternative-pop music that pushes the limits of bedroom-pop and "sad-girl" canons. Breaking onto the scene with her 2019 debut EP Grow
, Gladstone has quickly grown in popularity, boasting collaborations with the likes of Yung Gravy and Tobi Lou. Songs like "Food" feature cutting lyrics exploring the effects of limiting societal norms and the patriarchy, captivatingly contrasted with a lighthearted groove. It is at these contradictions that Gladstone shines, her light, airy voice blending with her saccharine productions to create a compelling sonic landscape. 1:40 to 2:40 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at NOW Stage.
Of the Trees
Photo by Franki3Lee
Of the Trees
Specializing in what he describes as "ice-cold bass music from the frigid plains of Maine," Of the Trees (real name Tyler Coomb) makes ambient, nature-inspired, and bass-driven beats. His latest EP, The Tale of Elegos
, was released to critical acclaim and sets the stage for a memorable festival set. Still, Okeechobee's only the beginning of a packed year for Of the Trees. Soon the bass musician will join Canadian DJ and Okeechobee headliner Rezz on her North America tour. With music deeply rooted in organic sounds and spacious productions, Of the Trees would be a unique and invigorating way to keep your Friday going. 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Aquachobee Stage.
Soul Clap's Charles Levine (left) and Eli Goldstein
Photo by Jonny Rios
This year will be the second in a row (barring the canceled 2021 fest) that Soul Clap will play at Okeechobee. When they played back in 2020, the New Times
called the band a must-see act
and "arguably the biggest electronic act to come out of Boston." With its refreshingly funked-up sound and pulsing basslines, it's no secret the duo — made up of Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine — has made a name for itself on the international club scene. Since 2021, Goldstein and Levine have played everywhere from Chicago to Milan. 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Aquachobee Stage.
Photo by Coco Foto
Founded by Joshua Hodges in Portland, Oregon, in 2007, indie-rock band STRFKR is no stranger to the stage. Ever since its 2008 debut, the eponymous Starfucker
, the band has enjoyed plenty of critical acclaim — though it remains relatively small in terms of popularity compared to the bigger acts at Okeechobee. Having straddled various genres in the ten-plus years it's been active — from catchy dance tunes to synth-driven pop — the electronic band is also just highly entertaining. STRFKR does it all. Playing on Sunday as of the few non-EDM acts of the day, the band is worth your time. Come for popular hits like "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" and stay for everything else. 5:40 to 6:40 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at BE Stage.
Photo courtesy of the Doral Yard
Listening to Yoli Mayor sing is like being transported to another world. Her voice is powerful, raspy, and incredibly versatile. She transitions from massive belts to earthy crooning and back again effortlessly. It's no wonder the first-generation Cuban-American Miami native has been called "the Cuban Adele" on more than one occasion — though she thinks of herself as more directly inspired by a different generation of greats: Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Etta James. She cut her teeth performing at Brickell's El Tucán and competed in the 12th season of America's Got Talent
, where she made it to the semifinals. In a festival with a heavy focus EDM, Mayor is poised to be the perfect breath of fresh air on which to kick off your Thursday. 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at BE Stage.
Based in Vancouver, Chinese-born DJ Yu Su specializes in moody, ambient music sure to keep the Okeechobee crowd rapt and swaying along. Her most recent album, Yellow River Blue
, features sounds as diverse as classical piano, hollow-sounding drums, Chinese-inspired instruments, synths, and other electronic elements. As she said in an interview with Ableton
back in 2020, she thinks of her work as making "sound installations" — allowing yourself to get lost in her work, from the wavy "Xiu" to the more upbeat, lyrical "Little Birds, Moonbath," that's precisely what it feels like. Yu Su's work is immersive and full, perfect for a gauzy Saturday afternoon. 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Aquachobee Stage.