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EDM.com Spotlight

Electric Forest Through The Eyes Of A First Timer

I'll be seeing you next year, Electric Forest!

For four days straight, I lost myself within the surreal world of Rothbury, Michigan’s Electric Forest. I say the word “lost” in a good way, for little did I know that all of my preconceived expectations would be completely blown away as I stepped deeper into the beautiful woods of Sherwood Forest.

Campsite Beginnings

I’ve come to realize that camping festivals are always the most satisfying and memorable. Living (camping) within the same vicinity as the festival grounds is always a treat after a long hard day of dancing. The forest campsites, in particular, were filled with some of the most experienced festivalgoers. Everyone was quite friendly per usual, but there was also a sense of commitment and passion for the festival that I felt as I interacted with some of the forest family. It’s truly inspiring how many fans choose to attend Electric Forest out of all the other festivals in the world.

Entering the Festival

From the moment that everyone arrived to the moment the gates opened, the energy was at a consistent high. If you were at forest, then you understand what I mean when I say the high fives were on point from beginning to end. 

When finally entering the first wave of festival entertainment, fans were greeted by the stunning Tripolee Stage. Tripolee wasn’t the easiest stage to walk away from, mainly because of all the headliners picked to rock this beautiful stage from sunrise to sunset. Many would say this was the stage for “EDM only,” but I believe the DJs themselves did an excellent job at adding some variety in their sets.

Highlights from the Tripolee Stage

Protohype and Excision brought nothing but pure dubstep filth to both their sets with memorable throwbacks as well. Bro Safari hyped up the crowd with MC Sharpness while Pegboard Nerds hit the crowd with some shocking hardstyle edits. The afternoons were also far from repetitive as Trippy Turtle kept the energy alive with his squeaky remixes and hilarious turtle outfit. Destructo turned out to be one of my favorite sets at the Tripolee Stage. The boss of the HARD festival franchise helped kick off Saturday night's festivities with the combination of hip-hop and electronic. Watch ten minutes of this memorable set as Destructo drops his famous record, "Higher."

All distractions aside, I found maneuvering through the crowd at the Tripolee Stage to be an easy experience. Fans were focused on the music, but at the same time, cautious of one another’s needs. Patience is something that I have found you simply cannot find at non-camping festivals anymore. 

The Forest

If I could share any lesson with you, it’s that once you’re past the Sherwood Forest archway, there’s no coming out of the forest... Unless you’re running to the Tripolee or Ranch stage, watching the lights come on, or having an employee physically flipped your hammock over to let you know its over. It’s one thing to get past the two stages in the beginning of the festival, but when you actually get into the forest, a whole other world opens up.

There’s always that dream or picture you have of yourself walking through the gates of a festival. For me, I couldn’t picture myself in the forest, and I think that’s what really made it so special to me. Sure I saw pictures of what the forest would look like, but I never actually thought of myself as being a fan amongst the crowd.

The first memory I have of myself was when I finally had the chance to experience that Sherwood arch above my head. That memory will stay in my mind forever. The fact of the matter is, and I’ll repeat it for many times to come, Forest is unlike any other festival you’ll ever experience. The things you see, taste, joke about, and ultimately yearn over, are moments that only real Forest fans can understand. 

It’s one thing to walk through the festival gates, but to actually walk through the forest is something no one can truly explain. It’s the whole idea and amount of production that is seen once you experience the nightlife of the forest. Even the daylight experience was absolutely breathtaking! The festival could have gone without the lights or awe-inspiring decorations, and it still would have turned into one of my favorite places. 

The Music of The Forest

Once you had finished drooling enough over the perfectly placed trees, it was time to experience the music of the forest. 

The Ranch Stage was home to stunning performances by Zeds Dead, STS9, and Steve Angello. Zeds Dead dropped new tracks like "Collapse," featuring Memorecks from their new EP, Somewhere Else. Zeds Dead's set brought in one of the biggest crowds of the festival, and they truly did their part to make the crowd grow as they set off the entire festival. Let’s not forget the unforgettable spider web that was passed above the crowd during Steve Angello’s explosive set on Saturday night. A connection worth remembering for years to come.

Moving deeper into the forest meant more hammocks, Psychedelic Bingo, and more beautiful stages with sets by Kygo, Golf Clap, Manic Menert, and Booka Shade. Out of all the stages constructed, my personal favorite was the Forest Stage. The peaceful sunsets peeking through the trees as DJs pleased the crowd made for many memorable nights. One set in particular that stood out to me was Golf Clap's night set at the Forest Stage. The duo stated that Electric Forest was one of their biggest crowds yet, and the duo also played another set at the silent disco. I applaud these two for bringing a tech-house vibe to the forest and keeping the crowd going all night long. You can listen to their live stream here.  

The festival ultimately had one of the most versatile array of stages for the diverse amount of DJs included on the lineup. Observing all five stages and taking part in the activities put on by this festival was something I'll never forget. Each stage brought something new to each day and night.

Takeaways from Electric Forest

1)  The nostalgia is serious, but will go away with positive thinking. Also, remember that another Electric Forest is taking place in 2015!

2)  Playing Psychedelic Bingo at least once in the forest is a must. Whether you watch from The Observatory or test your luck as a participant, it's worth it! 

3)  Appreciate the forest at both night and day equally.

4)  Dedicate one day to bar hopping (The forest’s drinks & bars are heavenly).

5)  Don’t overload your days! Be sure to relax and just take it all in. There’s no rush. Embrace it all and soak it all in.

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