What Electric Forest Does Best
Electric Forest was my first festival ever a few years ago, and it couldn’t have possibly been a better first. From the moment my best friend and I drove through the gates of the campgrounds until the second we reluctantly packed up at weekend’s end we were surrounded by nothing but good vibes and beautiful people. We actually didn’t even bring a tent with us on our first venture, thinking we would just sleep in our hammocks. That didn’t work out when the second night it rained, and our neighbors were kind enough to lend us a tent for the rest of the weekend. Not to mention the sheer amount of people I met that weekend that became, and still are some of my closest friends (we even celebrate every year by bringing cupcakes to celebrate the friendsiversary). Everyone at the festival can be seen walking around with the biggest smiles on their faces and magic in their eyes, pure enchantment I haven’t experience anywhere else in the world. The sense of community is incredible, everyone gets to know their neighbors, and helps out friend or complete stranger when they are in need. It’s always easy getting good spots close to stage, even when you’re as close as the bar there’s enough standing room to dance and move around. One of my favorite Forest traditions is yelling “CARL?!” just to hear hundreds of others echo back “CARL? CARL?” (you’ll learn the story behind the saying when you make it to the Forest). The festival is a place where you can embrace your inner weirdness, let your freak flag fly, and be applauded for being nothing but yourself. Everyone is happy to be at the event, right down to the staff, the vendors, and the security guards, making the overall experience even more blissful. The amount of love that is shown over the span of four days is overwhelming, and above all it’s what keeps loyal Forest dwellers coming back each year.
The Notorious Sherwood Forest
As the sun sets, and firey rays slice between the trees, you know it is almost the most magical time of the night. The time where the trees turn into glowing beacons, where festival goers run wild, and when you enter the most spectacular world. If Wonderland were real, the Sherwood Forest would be it. When the darkness elopes the forest is when the magic begins. Lasers bounce off of the trees, art installations glow, and people can be found spinning LED hoops and poi around every turn, adding to the beauty. It is a place where nature and man collide in the most spectacular way. Everywhere you turn is something new to look at and explore. The Sherwood Forest is so enchanting, there have been many times where I have opted out of seeing music for a few hours a night and just explored, letting my mind and spirit run wild amongst the illuminated, towering, trees. The silent disco, deep within the woods, allows attendees to lose themselves in the mystique of the setting, while remaining silent to the world around them, acting a as perfect blend of the natural and synthetic beauty of what the forest has to offer. Characters roam through the trees, interacting with festival goers, including one of the most fun night time events, Psychedelic Friendship Bingo--- which is exactly what it sounds like while offering amazing prizes. You could easily get lost wandering the forest for hours, enjoying all it has to offer, still without seeing everything, but that’s all just part of the magic!
For those of that have attended Electric Forest in past years, you can vouch for the vast improvement of the stage production this year. Not as if the stage production was ever anywhere near being bad--- but this year, the stages were something to watch on their own. Tripolee stage went from being a small area with little extra pizazz to almost the entire stage being an LED light board, sporting crazy visuals and engaging light shows. Not to mention that it was a work of art in itself, with both sides jetting out with tent light structures and trippy faces looking out over the crowd. The Ranch Arena glowed with LED light boards and beautiful artwork on the stage sides, as well as lasers and fantastic light shows during every set. Besides the large stages, the smaller stages, the Observatory and the Forest stage shined with natural beauty. A gorgeous asset to the show, they were framed by beautiful trees and art installations where festival goers could relax and watch the sets. No matter what stage you were at, you were able to have to option of being able to either sit down and sprawl out and enjoy the show, watch from a distance up posted in a hammock, or able to get up close and dance to the performers. Unlike many festivals of Electric Forest’s size, you were able to have room to move and dance no matter who you were seeing, even the biggest headlining acts. Sound quality was spot on, with no feedback or clashing between stages, something that many festivals so often lack.
The initial lineup disappointed many. The internet swirled with negative comments. Yes, the lineup wasn’t what was expected, but it also wasn’t just another recycled lineup with Bassnectar headlining and names like Figure, Mimosa, and Gramatik supporting. NOT that there is anything wrong with those artists, they’re actually some of my absolute favorite, and I would have LOVED to see Lorin headline forest this year, but they seemed to appear on nearly every single line up in 2014. Festivals like Wakarusa, Summer Camp, Summer Set, and North Coast are just a few that boasted nearly identical lineups. Electric Forest came in with headlining acts like Art Department, Moby, Matt & Kim, Zeds Dead, Ms. Lauryn Hill and the trifecta of Jam Bands: STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, and of course, The String Cheese Incident. Not to mention the absolutely incredible collaboration between String Cheese and Ms. Lauryn Hill to form The Lauryn Hill Incident. That’s before we even break into the almost overwhelming amount of talent sported by the supporting line up, including Trippy Turtle, Cashmere Cat, Kygo, Lindsey Lowend, Late Night Radio, I Am Legion, Seven Lions and more. Names that WERE NOT on every single other line up this summer. Artists that you don’t get the chance to see very often. Regardless of opinions, the festival sold out, and the line up is one of the biggest selling points, so Insomniac and Madison House did something right.
When it comes to the average camping festival, I always make sure to stock up on snacks and food that's easily prepared at my campsite. This is not the case at Electric Forest. I make it a point to set aside some extra money to splurge on the food that’s offered within the festival. it is absolutely to die for. Everything from giant slices of pizza of any variety from the notorious Spicy Pie to delicious tacos from Peace Love Tacos, Electric Forest hits the spot when it comes to food. The vendors have something for everyone, from fried teriyaki, vegan and vegetarian options, even my personal favorite: grilled veggies from local farmers. Including delicious grilled asparagus drizzled with Parmesan cheese, butter, and olive oil. The best part? All of the food was offered at extremely reasonable and affordable prices, making it near the same price it would be to bring food of your own.
Written By Madi Lawton
Photos By Madi Lawton