Underrated Acts at Okeechobee Music Festival 2022: HoneyLuv, STRFKR, Blu DeTiger

The Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival launches its fifth edition this weekend. After the cancellation of the 2021 edition, the festival returns to Sunshine Grove, hosting more than 100 artists on six stages.

While the four-day event features plenty of hard-hitting headliners like Meghan Thee Stallion and Tame Impala, there’s an abundance of talented little performers to watch out for if you want to get the most out of your festival experience.

For music lovers of all genres, here, listed in alphabetical order, are ten underrated acts worth honing in on Okeechobee this year.

Carl black!

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 Okeechobee’s more traditional EDM acts, Black Carl! The music brings with it a 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, much like the industrial music popular in most ’90s electronic music spaces. Yet Black Carl! doesn’t stick to one sound – as most clearly illustrated in “Act Up!” of 2021 – and his set will include tracks that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, March 5 at the Incendia stage.

Click to enlarge

Blu DeTiger

Photo by Abby Orons

Blu DeTiger

New York-based songwriter, bassist and producer Blu DeTiger is best known for the TikTok bass covers she’s been sharing during the pandemic. Although she has had experience touring with indie mainstays like Caroline Polachek and Fletcher and doing her own sets since her days at New York University, her popularity continues to grow. Even at this point in her career, she has a few quirky viral hits under her belt — the most notable of which is 2020’s “Figure it Out.” Her music is beyond dance, characterized by funky, intricate basslines and a unique cool-girl flair. An already prolific performer (she started playing CBGB as a child and has since taken over the club stages), DeTiger is a must. 4:55 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. on Friday March 4, at the BE Stage.

Click to enlarge Hiroko Yamamura - PHOTO COURTESY OF DEMAND ARTISTS

Hiroko Yamamura

Photo courtesy of the request artists

Hiroko Yamamura

Chicago-based DJ and producer Hiroko Yamamura draws inspiration from the city’s vibrant techno scene, “classic sci-fi and dark anime.” Pulling directly from her status as the second city’s most sought-after DJ, songs like “Midwest Panic” appeal to her roots while simultaneously positioning her as a rave and club staple. His music is cerebral, punchy and expansive, making him a standout in the Okeechobee lineup. Yamamura captivated crowds at Chicago’s biggest house-focused festival, ARC, late last fall, and house and EDM fans are sure to revel in his Okeechobee set. 11:30 p.m. to 3:15 a.m. on Friday, March 4 at the Jungle 51 stage.

Click to enlarge HoneyLuv - PHOTO BY NIKI CRAM

SweetieLuv

Photo by Niki Cram

SweetieLuv

Taylor Character, who goes by the stage name HoneyLuv, has made a name for herself in the dance and R&B scenes. Currently based in Los Angeles, the former NCAA basketball player and US Navy sailor produces house music primarily characterized by choppy techno beats and sultry vocals. She is popular in the LA club scene and on Tic, where she plays sets filled to the brim with afrobeat and hip-hop influences. With tracks like 2021’s “Paradise” featuring Hugo Cantarra and featuring OMEM and “FREE” in their repertoire, HoneyLuv promises a thrilling Okeechobee performance. Billboard called her a 2022 artist to watch – and new times could not agree more. 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 6 at the Aquachobee Stage.

Mia Gladstone

Singer, songwriter and producer Mia Gladstone creates alternative pop music that pushes the boundaries of bedroom and sad-girl canons. Enter the scene with his first EP in 2019 Grow, Gladstone quickly rose to popularity, benefiting from collaborations with Yung Gravy and Tobi Lou. Songs like “Food” feature sharp lyrics exploring the limiting effects of societal norms and patriarchy, contrasting captivatingly with a light-hearted groove. It’s in these contradictions that Gladstone shines, her light and airy voice mingling with her sugary productions to create a compelling soundscape. 1:40 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, at NOW Stage.

Click to enlarge Trees - PHOTO BY FRANKI3LEE

Trees

Photo by Franki3Lee

Trees

Specializing in what he describes as “icy bass music from the freezing plains of Maine”, Of the Trees (real name Tyler Coomb) create ambient, nature-inspired, bass-driven beats. His latest EP, The Tale of Elegos, has been critically acclaimed and sets the stage for a memorable festival. Still, Okeechobee is just the start of a busy year for Of the Trees. Soon, the bassist will join Canadian DJ and Okeechobee headliner Rezz on his North American tour. With music deeply rooted in organic sounds and spacious productions, Of the Trees would be a unique and invigorating way to make your Friday last. 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4 at the Aquachobee Stage.

Click to enlarge Charles Levine (left) and Eli Goldstein of Soul Clap - PHOTO BY JONNY RIOS

Soul Clap’s Charles Levine (left) and Eli Goldstein

Photo by Jonny Rios

soul strike

This year will be the second year in a row (barring the canceled 2021 festival) that Soul Clap will play Okeechobee. When they played in 2020, the new times called the group a must-have act and “arguably the biggest electronic act to come out of Boston”. With their refreshing funky sound and heart-pounding basslines, it’s no secret that the duo – consisting of Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine – have made a name for themselves on the international club scene. Since 2021, Goldstein and Levine have played everywhere from Chicago to Milan. 5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at the Aquachobee Stage.

Click to enlarge STRFKR - PHOTO BY COCO FOTO

STRFKR

Photo by Coco Foto

STRFKR

Founded by Joshua Hodges in Portland, Oregon in 2007, indie-rock band STRFKR are no strangers to the scene. Since its debut in 2008, the eponymous starfucker, the band received critical acclaim – although it remained relatively low in terms of popularity compared to Okeechobee’s biggest bands. Having straddled various genres in the ten-plus years they’ve been active – from catchy dance tunes to synth-driven pop – the electronic band are also highly entertaining. STRFKR does it all. Playing on Sundays among the few non-EDM acts of the day, the band is worth your time. Come listen to popular hits like “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” and stay for everything else. 5:40 p.m. to 6:40 p.m. on Sunday March 6, at the BE Stage.

Click to enlarge Mayor of Yoli - PHOTO COURTESY OF DORAL COURT

Mayor of Yoli

Photo courtesy of Doral Yard

Mayor of Yoli

Listening to Yoli Mayor sing is like being transported to another world. His voice is powerful, raspy and incredibly versatile. She goes from massive waistbands to earthy crooning and back effortlessly. It’s no wonder Miami’s first-generation Cuban-Americans have been dubbed “the Cuban Adele” on more than one occasion – though they see themselves as more directly inspired by another generation of big names: Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Etta. James. She cut her teeth performing at Brickell’s El Tucán and participated in the 12th season of America’s Got Talent, where she reached the semi-finals. In a festival heavily focused on EDM, Mayor is poised to be the perfect breath of fresh air to kick off your Thursday. 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday March 3 at the BE Stage.

Yu Su

Based in Vancouver, Chinese-born DJ Yu Su specializes in moody ambient music that’s sure to keep the Okeechobee crowd captivated and dancing. His last album, Yellow River Blue, features sounds as varied as classical piano, hollow percussion, Chinese-inspired instruments, synths, and other electronic elements. As she said in a interview with Ableton in 2020, she thinks her job is to make “sound installations” – allowing herself to get lost in her work, from the wavy “Xiu” to the more upbeat and lyrical “Little Birds, Moonbath”, which is precisely what l ‘we feel . Yu Su’s work is immersive and comprehensive, perfect for a steamy Saturday afternoon. 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Saturday, March 5 at the Aquachobee Stage.

Gerald R. Schneider