Electric Forest Weekend Two
For the last couple of years Electric Forest (EF) has been on our list of festival musts, and this year we were lucky enough to attend the second weekend in the forest. Through thunder and lightning, heavy rain, and the pleasant moments of sunlight the Forest Family went toe to toe with the elements and came out stronger then ever. Electric Forest was a journey with everything mother nature could throw our way, but nothing could stop the excitement as attendees from all over the world gathered in Rothbury, Michigan for four days of music, art, good food, and celebration.
Electric Forest had a great variety in the overall lineup this year. Depending on which stage you wandered to, you could find yourself listening to artists like Dillon Francis and DJ Snake or you could find yourself in the underground with artists like Merkaba & Eve Olution- it all depends on where the forest takes you. Out of all the performances at the festival, we really enjoyed sets from Waka Flocka Flame, SNBRN B2B Dr. Fresch, Break Science, Big Gigantic, Zeke Beats, PLS&TY, FuntCase, Crywolf, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Snakehips, Valentino Khan, Alison Wonderland, Flume, The String Cheese Incident, XYLO, Illenium, Win and Woo, Dirty Audio, Ekali, Merkaba & Eve Olution, Tom Misch, REZZ, RL Grime, and Bassnectar.
If you don’t recognize some artists on this list we would definitely recommend you check them out!
There were many great moments during the performances we saw throughout the weekend, but a few that stand out include Waka Flocka Flame- his hair, energy, and the multiple mosh pits during the show, Dr. Fresch taking a pony/unicorn from someone in the crowd and bringing it up to the decks with him… barefoot…during his b2b set with SNBRN, an impromptu solo from Brasstracks at Break Science, and Alison Wonderland harnessing her inner scene-kid and screaming “WAKE UP” to her song “U Don’t Know”.We had chills on that last one.
As per usual, we have to give shout-outs to our top BAE’s, Ekali and Rezz. We have seen both of these artists multiple times and they never let us down. Ekali brought the hype with some classic hits you hear in most of his mixes, but he also threw down surprise drops to keep things fresh. We saw Rezz two weekends ago at What The Festival, and I’m not going to lie her set was a lot weirder (in the best way possible) at WTF but she still slayed at EF. From our perspective, Rezz definitely brought the largest crowd of head bangers to Tripolee out of all the set this weekend. Zeke Beats made the weird kids in us smile. He is a definite up and comer and one to keep an eye on. With his set being at 2:30 p.m. he didn’t get too much exposure as it was still early in the day. Despite the less than stellar time slot he supported a surprising amount of people and we can’t wait to see him again!
Check out some highlight videos of some performances from the weekend below!
Electric Forest- The Experience
We flew into Muskegon, Michigan on Thursday before the festival. If you haven’t been to MKG it can come as quite a surprise with one terminal in the middle of nowhere. We were stressed about making it to our shuttle on time after grabbing our checked bags, but we were instantly relieved when we realized the whole plane was basically headed to the forest with us. The shuttle arrived forty minutes later giving us plenty of time to mingle with other attendees. After a quick 25 minute drive we finally arrived!
Living in a Forest: Camping, Weather, & Unique features
The first thing we noticed about the venue and camping area is that it’s absolutely massive! The map doesn’t do it justice but it is miles long. The venue will take you at least 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other, so comfortable footwear is a must. Also the weather was all over the place this weekend with thunder & lightning, heavy rain, fog, and breaks of sunshine here and there. Come prepared for anything with canopies and tarps to combat both the sun & the rain. Also, we never leave the house for a festival without $2 ponchos. Poncho parties help brighten up stormy weather and are a definite must!
Overall, the camping experience at Electric Forest is fantastic. Shuttles to the grocery store, easy access to restrooms, food & drink vendors, merchandise vendors, and other amenities help provide for attendees while the forest sleeps. There were also special moments during our camping experience, one included people lifting off in hot air balloons near the camping area. As they started to ride out by the Tripolee stage, people were attempting to throw beers up to them. Only one was successful, but the victory was worth the sacrifice.
During the late night hours, GA camping parties captivate the crowds still energized from the festival with no fear of getting shut down by security. Massive RVs, semi-trucks, busses, and more were throwing down DJ sets and curated playlists ‘til the break of dawn, which is something personally I’ve missed from other festivals that have gotten stricter and stricter about unofficial after-parties.
A unique feature of Electric Forest is the massive number of hammocks that people bring to the festival. Hundreds of happy forest people populating Sherwood Forest and beyond. Some even camp out all day at the Ranch Arena to snag good spots for the inevitable headliners, and honestly if that was your experience alone at EF it wouldn’t be too bad;). If you’re going to Electric Forest you definitely need to bring one or purchase one from the vendors–like we ended up doing (Huge shout out to ENO Hammock). Hammocks are super helpful and relaxing which is especially important if you want to last through the onslaught of 4 days of festival life.
To help keep attendees well-nourished and fueled up there was an array of food easily accessible throughout the venue and camping area. From breakfast burritos to massive jalapeño and pepperoni pizza slices to delicious noodles (with veggies) your hunger and appetite will both be satisfied. Outside of the normal selection you’ll find at any festival EF also had a unique selection of drink options. They had a great selection of microbrews including IPAs, pilsners, ciders, lagers, etc (can you tell we’re from Portland, OR?). We also enjoyed mixed drinks in the venue as well, including the Whiskey & Cider from the Hanger and the Zen Mule from the Observatory.
Stages & Production
Heading into the venue can be a little underwhelming as you trek through the mud pits of Tripolee and see a fairly standard mainstage with the Ranch Arena. However, once you enter the Sherwood Forest all doubts are whisked away and you discover the reason people keep coming to the festival time & time again. Our favorite stage setups had to Jubilee, the Forest Stage, the Observatory, and Sherwood Court.
The Hanger was also a really cool area as well, featuring 1920’s décor, a barbershop, pinup girls, candy parlour, game area, and more. This is a nice area to catch a unique performance as well as switch up the festival experience with bit of competition in the form of pool, ping-pong, bowling, and foosball.
However, the production on the Ranch Arena during the headlining acts was phenomenal. We haven’t had a ‘WOW’ moment during a set from the production alone, but during the String Cheese Incident we felt as if we were transported back into a 1960’s psychedelic universe. As shown in the video below, the combination of elements from the multi-colored confetti, the weird flexible cubes, the helicopter, and the acrobat hanging from a massive balloon above the crowd put us in awe.
The art installations, as always, add a certain breath and life into the forest that transforms it into an entire new being. There are tons of different installations from large to small, offering different environments, emotional moments, and imaginative little lairs to hang out with your fellow forest people. The Grand Artique was an incredible amount of fun to explore, the Reincarnation village a nice place to zen out, and tipi gong sessions were other-worldly.
At the centerpiece of the forest lies one of the most memorable and picturesque pieces from the entire weekend, the elepthant. Also, a small shout-out to the hundreds of beautiful umbrellas that lie between Sherwood Forest and the Ranch Arena, they were beautiful! Another nice, soothing offering was the little piano tucked in a corner of the festival. Surrounded by a small population of trees and hammocks people would stop by and play a few songs as they made their way through the venue. This was a great area to rest, lay back, and listen to what your fellow forest friends had to offer.
There are also secrets that lay in the forest for attendees to uncover. We only heard of a few, including a secret poetry speakeasy and a burlesque show. While we could share steps and passwords we found out it’s more fun to uncover yourself, so we will leave these for the next year’s attendees to enjoy. Make sure to dedicate some time to try and fully explore the forest. It is one of the more unique festival experiences you’ll be able to have throughout your various festival travels, and it shouldn’t be missed!
The crowds at Electric Forest are hype and no video can do it true justice. The moment we captured during Funtcase‘s set shows a nice laid back glimpse of crowd energy at Electric Forest. Especially during sets from artists like Bassnectar, people would cling to the railings in the front and pre-order a trip to the chiropractor with insane amounts of headbangin’ debauchery. Even the security guards- especially at Trip0lee- were caught gettin’ down to the massive tunes, and it was fun to see everyone just vibing and enjoying the music.
One of the most memorable days we had was when our only plan was having no plans at all. Throughout the day we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the forest. We were able to go through art installations, be in the moment with our friends, and we stumbled across artists that we otherwise wouldn’t have sought out. Coming from someone that has experienced Electric Forest, we would definitely recommend setting time or a day aside to live in the forest with your friends.
Other shenanigans ensued throughout the festival that brought smiles to our faces. Along with the traditional and always welcome, “Happy Forest”, there were two other incredibly funny phrases that people said throughout the festival. For some reason, everyone was yelling “Carl” like Rick Grimes from Walking Dead with extra southern drawl (see video below). It took only one person yelling out “Carl” to create a cascade of beautiful nonsense and many confused looking people. Quick side note– we believe the Carl reference is from Walking Dead. Our friends thought it was a reference to the Youtube videos Llamas With Hats. The unknown just added to the fun :).
Another noteworthy moment or phrase for our weekend was “Prize Cart”, which alludes to the Electric Forest program of picking up trash/recyclables around the festival for tokens to receive merchandise and other prizes. It doesn’t sound funny from that explanation but they literally played the same track “Prize Cart” after most sets at Electric Forest. We thought they played it originally just to clear out crowds because it’s extremely obnoxious. However, over time we succumbed to the almighty “Prize Cart”, and we’re sure that the echoes of “Prize Cart” are still ring through the forest today.
There were only a few negatives about the festival this summer. One downfall is the mud and puddles that formed near the entrance of the festival and throughout the Tripolee stage. There’s really no great way of handling the mush so hiking/rain boots were hip accessories this weekend. Outside of these areas the mud wasn’t really an issue at all. Lastly, we asked medics for a bottle of water once and were told that they were for staff. We were not impressed in that moment, but have no fear! We walked into the first campsite we saw and asked another festival attendee for a water bottle and they offered us two without hesitation.
The music, the art, and the mystery of the forest are illusive,and we’re left wondering how you fit so much goodness into one place. Electric Forest has been good to us and we found the people extremely polite & loving. We appreciate the opportunity to come out to this festival and satisfy our curiosities that have manifested over years from social media and videos. However, we’re only left wanting more and we can’t wait to come back to Electric Forest again next year. Thank you to all of the staff, security, vendors, medics, production team, Insomniac and Madison House Presents for a magical weekend.
Happy Forest Everyone!
The Faces of The Forest