Trip to Okeechobee Music Festival a highlight for rising Tampa band Bangarang
Bangarang made the most of their trip to last weekend’s Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival. They gave away stacks of CDs, networked like crazy, hung with artists like Lil Dicky and Lotus and even hired a documentary crew to film their trip.
“It’s pretty badass,” rapper Senyo Fugar said backstage. “All these bands, all this music, all these people. There’s not one person out here with any ill will.”
The Tampa rap-rock sextet made it to Okeechobee by virtue of besting seven other local acts for a slot at the festival, playing the same stage as artists like Future, Odesza and Big Grams. Not bad for a group that had never even opened for a national act.
Bangarang started in 2012 with each member coming from a different musical background — Fugar was a rapper, Arsenio Curry drummed at his church, guitarist Wes Bland came from psychedelic rock, and guitarist Tyson Gordon loved reggae and hip-hop. Throw in bassist Lucas Price and keyboardist Alex Bowers, and the band covers a lot of sonic terrain, from rap to rock to reggae to funk to jam.
Last fall the group released Galaxy Dust, an LP that honors their hometown with a loping, groovy song called Jose Gaspar. “The most amazing beer’s made and manufactured here in the city of cigars,” Fugar raps. “The land where gators roam and the pirates made their home.”
“I don’t want to say we’re a party band, because we take it more seriously than that, but it is fun music,” Bland said. “The main goal is to make sure everyone’s having fun.”
That was the case at Okeechobee, where the band’s covers of Outkast’s ATLiens and the Notorious B.I.G.’s Big Poppa got heads bopping in the early Sunday sun. Between songs, they shouted out their hometown, plugged Galaxy Dust and did everything they could to reach that last weekend.
“This is one of the greatest experiences we’ve ever had,” Fugar said. “It’s been a dope weekend.”
-- Jay Cridlin