Written by Sarah Dickens
It’s the morning of June 27th and I’ve already completed one weekend of my favorite festival Electric Forest, but now it’s time to gear up for the next. I was laying in my tent after a rather quiet two days of helping reset for weekend two and in the distance the sound of cars start to fill the Rothbury fields and faint calls of, “Happy Forest!”, can be heard echoing through the crisp air. My heart feels like it could explode… it’s time to experience it all over again.
Electric Forest is a multi-genre fully immersive eight day (broken up into 2 weekends) music festival located in the quaint town of Rothbury, Michigan. This year, we were lucky enough to attend both weekends through the volunteer program Work Exchange Team. We camped for thirteen days and went on a series of adventures, self explorations and all around musical badass-ness. It’s only been a week back in the real world and I’m itching to be back in magical Sherwood Forest.
Electric Forest is so much more than your typical music festival. In fact, in my eyes, the music is just an added bonus to the world you get to experience at Double JJ’s Resort. Insomniac and Madison House top themselves year after year and consistently create an environment that is honestly, unlike anything I’ve seen.
Upon entering the festival grounds for the first time you are greeted by Tripolee, the EDM stage and then the main stage Ranch Arena. The stages are designed with such attention to detail that simply ending the grounds there would still make for an out-of-this-world festival. What’s just beyond the main stage, however, is the reason we all call Electric Forest home.
This year festival goers were greeted by 2 large Forest Guardians before entering the street of umbrellas. Once you take the path into the forest you are fully immersed within pine trees with personalities, fairy houses with life messages and even more stages spewing out sounds from every direction. Sherwood Forest is a living, breathing thing and getting lost among the trees should be at the top of your bucket list.
There is so much to do in the Forest that even two weekends wasn’t enough. On the last day (after thirteen freaking days) we were still discovering hidden doors, tree houses, art galleries and more. There is always something to do and always something to see.
In addition to the Hanger and it’s many hidden secrets; read about the many secrets of the forest here, this year there was a groovy addition, The Carousel Club. The Carousel Club quickly became a favorite as it was a disco-themed banquet style stage nestled within the Hanger. Disco balls, acid jazz and glitter filled the room all weekend and it was a great place to hang out and cool down.
Insomniac and Madison House care so much for the festival goers and staff of Electric Forest. As someone who travels to many festivals of many kinds, I have never felt so cared for more than at Electric Forest. For example, as a volunteer we camped with staff and had our own path to the festival. Along said path there was a small ditch that was easy to hop over and never gave us any problems. However, out of no where a bridge appeared. There were over 30,000 people filing in but the festival organizers still took time to build the staff a bridge. It’s small things like that which will keep me returning year after year.
Weekend One VS Weekend Two
It was interesting to see the dynamics change from weekend to weekend. Weekend two’s lineup brought in a younger crowd compared to weekend one. Also, there was about 10,000 more people weekend two and it was very noticeable. Even the weather changed up and weekend two brought us crazy heat and storms that delayed the final day of shows.
Overall, each weekend had its own unique vibes and each crowd made it special all around. I was impressed with the reset and walking into Sherwood Forest on weekend two felt like the first time all over again.
Electric Forest is known for its eclectic musical acts. Jam bands, house music, bass music, jazz, rap, pop… literally any genre you want you can most likely found hidden somewhere in the forest. There’s so may different opportunities for you to expand your music taste and listen to something new. The music is the reason Forest is the way it is today – people from all walks of life with different tastes coming together for a weekend of celebration and harmony.
- Bassnectar – Weekend 1 and 2
- G Jones – Weekend 1
- Space Jesus – Weekend 1
- Mersiv – Weekend 2
- Chasing the Golden Hour Griz surprise set – Weekend 1
- Griz surprise set in the campgrounds – Weekend 2
THE PORTA POTTIES FLUSHED! That’s all I need to say. There were several flushing, lighted and clean toilet areas set up in the campgrounds and in the festival and it was life changing. Even the regular porta potties were cleaned frequently and I didn’t have too many horror stories to tell. Ten points to Insomniac for that one.
The food is and always be an important aspect to every festival experience. Forest is no different. The food was very hit or miss – I had some sub par meals but I also had some delicious foods. Spicy Pie will always hold a special place in my heart and the lemonade they serve at every vendor is to die for.
Room for Improvement
There is a barn/toilet area near the very first stage, Tripolee. The barn was turned into a urinal station and because of that the second you walk in the festival you get a whiff of pee. Maybe add some walls or move that area further in to keep the smell further from the entrance.
The weather was hot second weekend and there was really nowhere to escape it once inside the festival. Maybe some cool down areas with fans or misters would be a good addition for next year.
There’s no doubt that the crowd makes or breaks a music festival. Electric Forest is known for its people. There are no strangers, everyone is family and aside from a few bad apples the vibe is unmatched. You go to Electric Forest for the music but the environment and it’s people are what keep you coming back year after year.
The organizers of the festival are big into giving back to the community. This year through canned food drives they set a record amount of meals collected and are giving over 35,700 meals to local Oceana County communities. All the food vendor grease was donated to local farmers for bio diesel and even left over camping gear will be donated to homeless shelters in the area. Electric Forest is constantly bettering itself and its surrounding neighborhoods.
How do you sum up thirteen of the best days of your life into one article? How do you vividly explain the powers of the Forest? It seems almost impossible and even if I had the words of the worlds best writers I could never correctly explain Electric Forest. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend giving it a try, and if you’ve been you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I am already counting down the days until Electric Forest 2019! Add this one to your to do list and I’ll see you all in the Forest next year.