May The "Forest" Be With You
Despite gate delays, set time changes, and some inclement weather, Weekend One of Electric Forest was a blast! Jam bands jammed, DJs threw down, and surprise guests and sets snuck out of Sherwood Forest to the delight of the Forest Fam. Thursday started iffy. Storms raged all Wednesday night, causing ruckus and gate closures to the campsites most of Thursday morning. After a twelve and a half hour drive, setting up, and securing the campsite, we finally hoofed it from GA camping to the festival gates, only to wait another half hour for gates to be opened, an hour delay from the original opening time of 3 pm. In spite of the on and off rain, mud, and delays - spirits were high.
Thursday was jam-packed with jam bands. First up, Con Brio (read our interview with them here) took over the Ranch Arena stage, wowing the first festie arrivals with amazing dance moves and contagious energy. Afterward, NOLA natives, The Revivalists, took over the Ranch Arena before The String Cheese Incident (check out our review of their latest album) played two sets, back to back treating Electric Forest to an original cover of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” remixed with their own “Colliding.”
Meanwhile, on the Tripolee Stage near the main entrance, Sonny Fodera threw down. His performance was marked with a special appearance from Claude VonStroke, who spent Thursday splitting time between reuniting with friends, interviews, and collabing with other artists on the Tripolee Stage until his own performance at midnight. (Check out our story of hanging out at the Electric Foret Dirty Bird press hour.)
Storms threatened to shut down the first night in the Forest, but the Forest Family raged on. Above & Beyond gave a truly memorable performance on the Ranch Arena. Lightning lit up the sky just as bass dropped, and the set used only white strobing lights, a truly magical effect in the pouring rain. “It was like some shit out of the movies,” Edwin, 22, from Michigan told Bullet Music, excitedly. Thursday night was a true test for how the rest of the weekend would play out. The Electric Forest Family is not a fainthearted group.
Electric Forest is my sixth camping festival; I’ve seen a lot. I was part of the TomorrowWorld shit show, and let me tell you, that was enough to make anyone say, “Yeah, I’ve had enough of the festival scene.”
However, Electric Forest is the most efficiently run festival I've attended. Come Friday morning, mulch had been packed with the mud, tractors and septic trucks had compacted or sucked out the remaining water, and the worst areas were gated off. Porta Potties were clean and stocked all weekend long. Staff remained kind, helpful, and in good spirits. The Electric Forest app stayed up to date, notifying users of delays and set time changes.
Friday was beautiful and sunny. My crew and I set out in the Sherwood Forest to explore and find the perfect trees to hang our hammocks. Winding through the trees, art, and forest fairies, we swung on the edge of the woods overlooking the Sherwood Court Stage where the people watching was prime. Like most festivals, people were friendly and talkative, but Electric Forest is set apart by a certain camaraderie. My crew and I made so many friends, and I can honestly say that I felt a part of the Forest Family. Only at a burn have I ever experienced such welcoming vibes. We swung and laughed and jammed to Chet Porter before making our way back to camp to prepare for the Night 2. On our way, we stopped by Ranch Arena to jam to Matisyahu (read about his performance at Candler Park Fest) who shared a new live version of “King Without A Crown” and again at the Tripolee Stage to hear Liquid Stranger and Space Jesus share a set.
Later that night, Eptic performed a super-hyped set at Tripolee Stage. It was the perfect start to Friday night. I spent the rest of the night running from one side of the forest to the other, catching part of The String Cheese Incident’s triple set on the Ranch Arena, and later Odesza on the same stage. I discovered the Silent Disco and Motion Potion’s three channel set up. Silent Disco goers danced the night away in headsets, pressing a button on the underside of the earpiece to switch between red, green and blue channels. I danced among the stars with TroyBoi and threw down to his trap-tastic set at Sherwood Court and later had my soul soothed by Tycho’s melodies. Jubilee Stage was lit up with a funk-tastic set by Lettuce who brought on surprise guest Matisyahu. NERO closed out Tripolee Stage with an amazing set. "Promises" was truly reminiscent of their 2014 TomorrowWorld appearance, one of my favorite sets of all time.
Although the Electric Forest app had projected Odesza to be the most popular set of the weekend, Saturday was bookmarked by Bassnectar who drew the biggest, most raging crowd to the Ranch Arena and delighting them with a new music debut. Also on Saturday, Louisville’s My Morning Jacket played an amazing sunset performance at the Ranch Arena. Tripolee stayed LIT from Dirty Audio, Ekali, AC Slater, Ganja White Night, Liquid Stranger, and Rezz all playing back to back.
Sunday was bittersweet and by far the chilliest day in Rothbury, Michigan. Rain threatened to dampen the day, but only scattered showers happened later in the evening. I caught a Secret Guest at the Silent Disco. Rumor has it DJ Hanzel, Dillon Francis’ deep house alter ego played on the blue channel.
Afterward, Papadosio played a rain-showered set at the Ranch Arena. Dillon Francis closed out Ranch Arena then Big Gigantic closed down Sherwood Court after. By far, one of my favorite performances, Big Gigantic featured a three-piece horns section and Jennifer Hartswick. Their funky set included shout outs to GRiZ and Gramatik, and ended his set with brand new music special for Electric Forest.
Bullet Music’s first year at Electric Forest was a huge success. Camp stayed dry, new friends were made, and the stories will live on for years to come. We’re coming again for you next year, Forest Fam.