Finding Quiet Amid The Joyful Chaos Of Florida’s Okeechobee Music Festival

03.09.18 8 months ago

Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx

Alright, let’s start by closing our eyes and taking a deep breath… Now hold it in… OK, and breathe out.

What’s the best part of a vacation? The anticipation beforehand, knowing that something new is coming your way soon (or rather, that you’re going its way)? The actual experience of it, being in a different and unfamiliar frame of reference, even if it’s just for a few days? Or is it the going back home, returning to find that the magazines you haven’t read yet are still on the table where you left them, and letting the little comforting things like that remind you why you live there?

The answer is that they’re all the best, because they’re all equally valuable factors: A thing’s antonym is as important as its meaning, because they define each other. “Everything is relative,” says the guy who watched a video about basic psychological principals once. After all, what would blue mean without the existence of red? How about Kanye West without modesty? Loud without silent? How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real? These things are what they are as much as they are what they are not, like music snobs who define themselves by the songs they can’t stand as much as they do by the obscure bands they love that you’ve probably never heard of.

Music is a party, yes, but it’s also a quiet night in, and the folks at the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival understand that.

They put on an event filled with exciting moments in Okeechobee, Florida this first weekend of March: Arcade Fire, Bassnectar, Halsey, and Travis Scott headlined, and other highlights included a collaborative performance from The Roots, Snoop Dogg, Chaka Khan, and others, as well as Khalid, The Flaming Lips, Local Natives, and more. Tycho and Sylvan Esso’s sets were also among my personal favorites.

Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx

Okeechobee also places emphasis on the parts of music that are often left out of festivals, or at least not as recognized: The stillness, the introspection, the serenity. Depraved all-night raves can be fulfilling, but so is taking a break from getting to know somebody else’s sweaty, gyrating body and instead getting to know yourself. The Yogachobee stage offered sessions of acroyoga, laughter yoga, wake up yoga, and energy yoga flow. Other such meditative activities could be found throughout the festival grounds as well. The apex of these barefoot vibes over the weekend was when the main stage was devoted to The Big Quiet, “an immersive sound meditation experience” featuring members of Arcade Fire, Local Natives, and Sofi Tukker, leading a large group of festivalgoers sitting on the ground and finding inner balance for sixty minutes.

I see the value in yoga and meditation and that sort of inward-looking activity, but in that regard, I’m a handful of granola short of a sitting-with-my-legs-crossed parfait. Yoga, meditation, and the like aren’t my cup of organic sage-infused tea, but over the past few years, yoga-ish, meditative ideals have found their way into my life, and for that, I’m improving.

Breathe in…

A couple years ago, I lived with roommates I didn’t know well and didn’t care to learn about at all. It was a random assignment deal. Being in the common area of our central Maine apartment gave me some level of anxiety, for reasons that weren’t clear to me then and still aren’t now. So, I stayed mostly in my room, leaving to get food or go on a drive when I didn’t hear them outside my closed door. That didn’t make anything better.

A local pizza place had a 2-for-1 deal on Mondays, so more weeks than I should have, I’d get two large chicken bacon ranch pizzas and subsist mostly on those for the week, not bothering to refrigerate the leftovers. I dropped from an already-lean 155 pounds down to 138, which yes, is too light for a 5’11” male. It was for me, anyway.

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