Top 10 Things About Electric Forest

When your friends come back from a music festival, and you ask them how it was, what is their usual answer?


“A life changing experience.”

“Super awesome, bro!”

Whatever the answer may be, it barely explains exactly what about the festival made it that great. After a lot of thinking, and bringing things back from the depths of browning out all weekend, I’ve managed to pull together what I thought made Electric Forest in Rothbury, MI really worth going each year. I also pulled together what I thought was the best of the best when it came to artists for the festival specifically. To the dismay of many people and myself, I did not catch the much anticipated Ms. Lauren Hill‘s set. She started hours after her scheduled set time, and the forest became my home by then. However, Electric Forest was much more than one artist’s comeback tour.

With that being said, we’ll start with the best sets:

1. Best Electronic Show: The Glitch Mob

It seemed as though these guys’ career built up to that moment at EF when they had the Ranch Arena in a trance. The Glitch Mob are necessary to see live. The drums are front and center and I felt it.┬áThe amount of sound that vibrated through me during the set left me breathless for hours. The set could not compare to any album the group has produced. Everyone at that set agreed that these guys killed it.

2. Best Jam Band Show: The String Cheese Incident

I am not a jam band fan. I can say that outright. But there’s something about String Cheese that has a special place in my heart. These guys are the reason Electric Forest is still a festival in the first place. They had three-hour sets all four days of the festival, and really know how to spread the love. They consistently play their instruments with all that they have, and they’ve had enough time to practice. Without much touring between the festival, many people travel from far and wide to see The String Cheese Incident jam out.

3. Best Underrated Show: Kygo

This Norwegian has been making music since he was little, but only recently he’s become a worldwide sensation. With recent collaborations with the likes of Chris Martin, this artist filled the forest with eager fans looking to listen. I myself plowed through a sea of people to even see the top corners of the stage, assuring me that it did, in fact, exist. Kygo’s chill grooves and unique catchy melodies stood out as an artist on the rise and one to watch.

4. Hammocks

For those who have never been to Electric Forest, the forest itself is all evergreens. They’re close knit, but free of those annoying branches that get stuck in your hair. They’re firm, they sway in the wind. All of these things call for perfect hammock conditions. During the day, Sherwood Forest turns into a maze of hammocks. Going off the beaten path means weaving around and under people sleeping, smoking, talking, and laughing in various levels of the trees. At times, the hammocks can create dead ends. In that case, you might as well meet those who have trapped you. Best recommendation is to bring your own, get there early, and take a nice nap staring at the sky.


5. The Ferris Wheel

At the entrance to the festival grounds, and to the right of the Tripolee stage, lies the Ferris Wheel. During the day time, you can take a ride and try and spot your campsite off in the distance. At night, you can see everyone’s glow sticks in the massive crowd below. The wheel starts slow, then takes you around a few times at a swift but safe speed. At any age, this wheel is wonderful and worth the $5 charge to ride.

6. Festi Taxis

The campground at the Double JJ Ranch is massive. After wandering the site, the forest, and the festival stages from sunup to sundown, the trek to your tent after a long day can be torture. In come the festi taxis. Again, for a simple $5 fee, these guys will pick you up on their golf cart and safely find your campsite with you. Need any assistance? The drivers also have walkie talkies for any emergencies. Some may call it lazy, I call it pretty dang convenient.

7. Creativity at the Forest

The festival atmosphere seems to really allow people to show their true colors. So many people walk around with gorgeous posters they’ve made, pins they’ve pressed, wraps they’ve slaved over, all for the sake of creativity. In addition, the build of some campsites blew my mind. One site had a trampoline, although I believe they were asked to take it down for safety reasons. The clothing at festivals can be skimpy, ridiculous, or artistic, but all are an expression of self . Need to find your friends? Get creative with a beacon to find your campsite or even a buddy inside the festival. All of these aspects were very well thought out before the festival, at times taking months to complete an idea. Cheers, artists.


8. Vendors

Along with your average Joe, there are some true accredited artists and vendors at Electric Forest. The paintings, the watches, the t-shirts, the necklaces, all of these people have made a living off of their art, and this festival was their time to shine. Shine they did! Need a mobile phone charger? There were even small companies with products that could really help the festival community. Even though I hadn’t planned on buying anything, it was great to see what people had to offer.

9. Light Shows All Around

Sherwood Forest becomes a truly magical place when the sun goes down. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing during the day with all the characters of the forest and interactive installations, but it’s a whole different world at night. Lights, lasers, mirrors, and canopies make the forest light up from root to tip. The lights bounce around from place to place, raising and lowering themselves, creating an energy than springs from tree to tree.┬áHula-hoops have become expensive and complicated pieces of equipment. As someone who enjoys a good light show, these hula-hoops are a light show in themselves. But, the ultimate lights are on the stages. The LED screens were the sharpest I’ve ever seen, with mind-blowing visuals and programming I could never fathom. The people who put on these productions are vastly under appreciated.


10. Overall Sense of Unity

At a place like Electric Forest, it’s hard to be part of a single group. Once you enter, you’ve gone beyond the normal dog-eat-dog world into a land of unity and togetherness. Everything is traded, everything is shared. We all look out for each other and can’t help but referring to everything in the sense of “we” rather than “I.” At Electric Forest, we are all one, and you can only understand by attending next year.


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