Written By Sarah Dickens
Nothing can prepare you for that feeling when taking your first steps under the rainbow arch and into Sherwood Forest. Excited, overwhelmed, amazed, and “home” are just a few of the feelings I got when I entered the Forest for the first time. I was lucky enough to attend Electric Forest Weekend 2 – add a thunderstorm or two and it easily became a weekend I will never forget.
Electric Forest is an immersive 8-day, 2 week multi-genre festival held in Rothbury, Michigan amongst open fields, enormous pine trees and hidden gems. From fairy houses placed sporadically throughout a maze of lush forest, to characters asking you to pick a forest creature name then dousing you in glitter and even seeking secret bars found through scavenger hunts – one weekend in the forest is not enough. No words, pictures or videos will ever do this magical land justice. Put this festival on your bucket list and experience the magic for yourself.
The forest is much more than a music festival. Yes, the music is what attracts the crowds, but the people, sights and smells of this world created by Madison House, Insomniac and Double JJ Resort place you on another planet. Walking through Sherwood Forest during the day is magic in itself – every flower is planted with a purpose, every spray painted piece of wood has a message that resonates through those that stumble upon it, and every turn you take you will discover a new jewel.
At night, Sherwood Forest turns into a scene from Avatar. The lasers hit the trees in a way to make everything sparkle, the flowers turn into spirits that sway in the wind, the crunching of the mulch under your feet adds to the beat of the jam band playing a few feet away. It’s pure magic.
Experience You Can’t Miss
The Hangar, a 1940’s aircraft hangar themed stage, featured jam bands, funky jazz and progressive house dj’s throughout the weekend. However, the music isn’t the main attraction. The Hangar is sprinkled with secrets and fun activities. Hop over to the bakery for a piece of pie and a root beer float, but don’t forget to check out the fireplace! Behind it you will find a secret room that can only be accessed via a secret password. The Selfie Studio in the back corner also has a fake wall leading to a secret speak-easy. In order to access the secret bar you must have a dog tag and a password – the actors in The Hangar sent us on a wild goose hunt for clues and passwords. We finally made it in the last day – mission accomplished.
I recommend carving out time in your schedule to walk around and discover all of the secrets of the forest. It’s fun to discuss the clues and steps with friends and a really good conversation starter! We were told of a million other secrets of the forest, but like I said, one weekend simply isn’t enough.
With 4 major stages and a few others scattered throughout the forest, there was never a dull moment. Electric Forest is a multi-genre festival that truly effects the vibe and the experience, and in my opinion, it makes it unbelievably better. There are patrons of all ages, coming from all walks of life and it allows you to experience so many new things. As a music lover I loved getting to hear new genres and meet people who exposed me to their own favorite acts. The Observatory was always filled with funky jazz tunes and people to match. It’s a great place to take a break or check out vendors.
What’s an article about the forest without mentioning The String Cheese Incident? Electric Forest is their home – their kingdom. They had fireworks, giant cubes bouncing throughout the crowd, a girl dangling from a hot air balloon and more. Their production and funky jam band sound truly embody what the forest is all about.
Tripolee (AKA Mudpit of Death) – We spent the majority of our time trying to headbang and shuffle in mud, but it only added to the experience. The EDM stage was adorned with 2 large tribal women guarding its sides. Being the first stage on the grounds it really started the experience off on a good note. The sound was finicky at times and I wish the bass hit a little harder. We could barely hear my girl Alison Wonderland the first night but it seemed to get better throughout the weekend.
The other stages – Sherwood Court, Ranch Arena and Jubilee were always packed and had great sound. Jubilee is under a tent and was always a refreshing way to jam while getting shade or taking shelter from the rain. The forest is full of smaller stages and you’ll always hear something you like.
Best Weekend Set
Bassnectar. I am a basshead so I may be biased, but this guy is good, y’all. His visuals, the messages, and the fact that we didn’t know what we were about to hear! The vibes during the set were the best part of the weekend, and we even became friends with people around us. At one point the drop literally brought our friend (Drew) to his knees; he collapsed in the middle of the crowd and then got up and headbanged harder than I’ve ever seen a human headbang! Moments like that put Bassnectar’s set at the top of my list for this fest.
- 12th Planet B2B GTA B2B Ekali B2B Team EZY B2B More (WOW! And it was unplanned)
- RL Grime
- Team EZY
If you’ve ever been to a music festival you know that you’ll never meet nicer, more welcoming people in your life. The forest was that plus some – the community in the forest is unmatched. You can’t walk by a person without a huge smile and the typical “happy forest” greeting. You will get hugged and high-fived by so many strangers that they don’t feel like strangers – everyone in the forest is connected. The law enforcement can be found cracking jokes, trading kandi and wearing “plur police” perlers – they are known for being the coolest festival cops and everyone truly felt safe for a weekend in our little corner away from the world. EMT and medics are very accessible and the medic tents are stocked with anything you may need.
It’s a little utopian community for the weekend and it changed the way I view the world and the people in it. The people of Electric Forest will always be connected regardless of age, gender, money, skin color… etc. None of it matters at the forest – all that matters is the love for music and the world that we all share.
Outside of the grounds you will find gift and novelty vendors, clothing vendors and food galore. The campgrounds are never dull and there’s always music blaring. The RV parties were always lively and the early morning hours bring the best conversations. Showers and water station were sprinkled around the grounds and the port-o-potty situation was the best I’ve seen at a festival. The food is higher in price ($14 for a burger and fries) but very good with a lot of variety. I recommend getting the fresh-squeezed lemonade – yum. Although my campsite was a 20 minute walk from the entrance I rate the camping experience 10/10.
Electric Forest To Do List:
- The Butterfly Release
- Discovering the secrets of The Hangar
- The Giving Tree
- Discover a new genre
- Hammock amongst the pines
- Write a postcard to yourself at the Trading Post
- Live in the moment
All in all, it was an amazing weekend that surpassed my expectations. The experience, the music and the people worked together to create their own world, and I feel honored to have been a part of it. Grab your tent, grab your friends and head to Rothbury, Michigan next year. If it’s up to me I’ll never miss another.