Electric Forest brings wild fantasy to life! For four days, Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan is transformed into a majestic wonderland filled with an eclectic selection of music, art, and opportunities to give back to the community. Over 30,000 amazing people from all over ventured to Electric Forest to see more than 120 performances on five stages. Foresters experience a one-of-a-kind festival experience in “Sherwood Forest”. A transformation takes place each evening as the sun sets and the forest is illuminated with vibrant lights and beautiful people. Escape from reality; enjoy getting lost, and finding yourself under the trees!
Foresters come to the festival for a unique experience that is hard to believe. A sense of community was palpable from the very beginning, as waves and high fives were exchanged between cars entering the festival grounds. Campsites quickly popped up and it was clear that everyone shared immense anticipation for The Forest to officially open. It was worth the wait! The ornate decorations at each stage and throughout Sherwood Forest were breath-taking, and ensured that you could find something new each day. Insomniac Events and Madison House, the co-producers of the festival, went above and beyond providing attendees with an incredible visually- and musically-appealing event.
Electric Forest did not fall short on any of the essentials to ensure the best possible festival experience. Foresters camped out in a huge field spreading far and wide across Double JJ Ranch. Throughout the camp grounds water stations, showers, bathrooms and general stores were easily found. The port-a-potties were serviced frequently. The general stores supplied useful stuff such as ice, snacks, toiletries, grocery items, sun block, bug spray, batteries, cigarettes, and even folding chairs. Main Street, located in the middle of the campground, housed food and other vendors. In the mornings, foresters enjoyed a variety of breakfast items including crepes, breakfast burritos, and Acai power bowls. For lunch and dinner anything from pizza to samosas to burgers to teriyaki chicken bowls were available. The other vendors on Main Street had diverse stocks of cool souvenirs. Inside the festival grounds, more unique and interesting vendors could be found all over the place. Medical tents were clearly marked and easily accessible. The staff of Insomniac Events and Madison House created a comfortable and safe environment outdoors.
The majority of attendees appeared to be in their early to mid-20s, but middle-aged couples and families were spotted sharing the experience. During the day foresters could be found hanging in colorful hammocks high in the trees, or venturing to the nearby water park, and at night embracing the magical lights at each of the stages or dancing to their own beat in the Silent Disco. The Forest offered something special for everyone.
The VIP experience also went beyond our expectations. Foresters enjoying “The Good Life” could play during the day at a pool located in the Back Forty. Tito’s Vodka cocktails and Bud Light bottles were provided free all weekend. For me, the best parts of The Good Life were the booths set up on the stages for intimate viewing experiences during performances, and the secret sets after The Forest closed.
The four-day festival offers a multi-genre line-up. The majority of artists were either jam bands or electronic musicians. Performances took place at five huge stages. The Tripolee was the first stage you’d encounter upon entering the festival. This stage hosted yoga each morning, led by Hannah Muse to the sound of Marcelo Moxy.
After yoga, The Tripolee packed in more performances than any other stage and featured the majority of the DJ and bass heavy sets, including Art Department, 12th Planet, Bro Safari, Excision, Anna Lunoe, and Luke the Knife (the disco funk solo project of Lotus guitar and keyboard player, Luke Miller). On the final night Moby closed out, and brought down the house with an amazing set and incredible light show.
The Ranch Arena, which acted as the main stage, hosted some of the best shows from the weekend. Paper Diamond, The Glitch Mob and Zed’s Dead kicked off the weekend with three electric sets. The String Cheese Incident graced the festival with three 3-hour-long sets, one of which was a collaboration with Ms. Lauryn Hill and consisted of one of the most diverse setlists a festival-goer could have asked for, featuring covers of Weather Report, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, and The Fugees. Foresters made festival history at Matt and Kim’s set, when a person crowd surfed with another person standing on top of them. The Sherwood Court hosted multiple sets of STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee. On the first night the talented duo EOTO graced the stage and gave listeners a one-of-a-kind live and improvised listening and visual experience. The mesmerizing Emancipator Ensemble, Cosby Sweater and many more jam and electronic acts kept foresters dancing all weekend.
The final two stages were hidden deep in the Forest. The Observatory lived up to its name, as we watched, and interacted with, many different acts. The Hoop Troupe performance dazzled viewers with grace and flexibility. A favorite of many foresters was the crazy Psychedelic Friendship Bingo that took place each night from midnight until the forest closed. John Wayne and the Pain and the powerhouse RAC DJ rocked the Forest Stage, where you could hang up your hammock and still get an excellent view.
The fine folks of the Conscious Alliance Food Drive had a huge presence at the festival. This organization travels all over the country to festivals, concerts, and other special events to collect food and monetary donations to distribute to under-resourced families across the nation, some of whom survive on salaries of less than $6,000 a year. The donations that they collect benefit food pantries and economically challenged Native American Reservations. In thanks, donors receive posters donated by talented artists. This year over 16,000 meals were collected and will be distributed to pantries for LOCAL families in need. To date Electric Forest has raised 47,000 meals for local area pantries. Let’s party and make a positive impact on the lives of others! For more information and how to get involved visit their website.
Conscious Alliance is close to FestPop’s heart so we formed an alliance. Simply put, when music festival fans purchase music festival travel packages, tickets or essentials at FestPop.com a percentage of the revenue goes directly to Conscious Alliance.
Learn more: FestPop Joins Conscious Alliance
The environment that Insomniac and Madison House created deep within Sherwood Forest is unlike any festival that one would experience in the domain of a city or a building’s walls. The communal sense of family and the desire to radiate love to all of your fellow foresters is a common theme with the vast majority of attendees. No hand goes un-high-fived, no introduction goes without a hug, and you never have to dance alone. Even if you’re not familiar with the scene or the musicians, this might be the perfect journey for you. Between the diverse music, the beautiful (natural and decorated) scenery of the forest, and all of the forms of entertainment provided, the experience filled a little void in our hearts that we didn’t realize we had. We truly experienced community and talent throughout the Electric Forest!
By FestPop Staff Writers:
Lindsey Morrison & Lindsay Shearon