Beyond his five Grammy Awards, it was Kendrick Lamar’s incendiary live performance on the Staples Center stage Monday night that served as a potent reminder that something special will be going on in the woods near Lake Okeechobee next month at the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.
In a medley from his Grammy-winning album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar arrived onstage in shackles and prison blues for an extraordinary version of “The Blacker the Berry,” its modern rap lyrics introduced in staccato bursts as a jazz saxophonist gave it an undercurrent of uncomfortable nostalgia. Lamar then moved across the stage, where African dancers moved around a large bonfire as the rapper spit out the Grammy-winning Black Lives Matter anthem “Alright.”
It was a bold and provocative performance, not something associated with the Grammy Awards, where even the newsmaking confrontations (Tay vs. Kanye) come with a manufactured whiff of commerce. Lamar’s passion felt deeply personal Monday night, and the pretty faces in the crowd seemed wholly unprepared for the experience.
Lamar wasn’t the only act on the Okeechobee Music Festival bill needing two hands to carry their Grammys. Skrillex won for his Diplo collaborations, receiving awards for the Justin Bieber hit “Where Are Ü Now” (best dance recording) and the album “Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack Ü” (best dance-electronic album).
Jason Isbell also took two Grammys for “Something More Than Free” (best Americana album) and “24 Frames” (best American roots song).
The Okeechobee Music Festival, which opens it gates March 3 and runs through March 6, will offer a long list of acts joining Lamar, including Mumford & Sons, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, Hall and Oates, Ween, the Avett Brothers, Grace Potter, Bassnectar, Big Boi’s Big Grams, Fetty Wap, Miguel, Future, Kamasi Washington and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, among many others. Info: OkeechobeeFest.com.
Miguel (already a Grammy winner) and Fetty Wap were each nominated for two Grammys.
Acts coming to the Tortuga Music Festival on Fort Lauderdale beach April 15-17 also had their share of Grammy attention. Sam Hunt, who performed a live duet with Carrie Underwood during the show, had two nominations, including best new artist and best country album for “Montevallo.” Brassy vocalist Elle King also had two nominations for best rock song and best rock performance for her hit “Ex's & Oh's.”
Other Tortuga-bound acts with Grammy nominations included headliners Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley, as well as newcomer Cam for her performance of “Burning House.” Info: TortugaMusicFestival.com.
While we’re at it, Brandi Carlile (nominated for best Americana album with “The Firewatcher's Daughter”) plays the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale Feb. 19 (ParkerPlayhouse.com), and Bettye LaVette (best blues album nominee for “Worthy”) is at Bailey Hall at Broward College in Davie on Feb. 20 (BaileyHall.org).
Nile Rodgers, who performed “Let’s Dance” during Lady Gaga’s Grammys homage to David Bowie, is opening for Duran Duran at Bayfront Park in Miami April 1 (LiveNation.com).
And the snatch of Commodores classics heard during the Grammy salute to Lionel Richie may pique your interest in hearing the band perform live on April 3 at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. Info: Facebook.com/SeminoleCasinoCocoCreek.
With multiple nominations, Florence and the Machine will bring music from the album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” to AmericanAirlines Arena on May 13 (Ticketmaster.com).