Electric Forest was back in action after two long years, and needless to say, every performance and memory made was amazing.
electric forest stands in Rothbury, Mich. and after two long years without her, this was a special year for her tenth birthday. I couldn’t wait to make the trip back to Sherwood Forest to experience the magic, and the anticipation grew as I drove to Michigan from Chicago. Arriving in Rothbury we were pointed in several directions which was a bit annoying but we were able to find where to go and continue on our way.
My friends and I arrived early at Sherwood Tent Only VIP Campground otherwise known as Good Life. It had been my first year camping at Good Life, so I was pretty excited to see how things were going. For most of the weekend, everything was fine. Showers were warm on Thursday morning and not too cold the rest of the weekend. However, there were issues with flooded or overflowing toilet trailers. Walking two campsites to the bathroom was boring, but no experience is ever perfect when it comes to festivals.
There was also a general store with quite a few groceries like bread, hot dogs, water, and soda, plus a few convenience items like airbeds, gas for camping stoves, and , of course, ice cream. But it was about a 15-20 minute walk from the Tent Only campsite. We were at one end of the field and the store was on the other side a few campsites away. It wasn’t horrible, but to improve that, they could have added one to Tent Only, and things would have gone smoother for the whole area.
As for entrance to the festival itself, Good Life has a few gates, but the one near Sherwood Court was closest to my campsite. Security was quite easy and airy. There was no problem from anyone online, which also seemed to move pretty quickly.
From what I remember, when I last visited the forest in 2018, it didn’t seem like much had changed, but nothing was wrong.
Structures and scenographies have been updated and modified. There were new installations by several artists and updates to the Honeycomb and The Observatory stepped stands. Sherwood Court had new LED screens around the stage that would change the patterns. triple also got a makeover by adding large screens on the sides and having vibrating lasers. The trees, when lit, were glowing, and the lasers beaming between the branches of the trees lit specific art installations.
The seven stages and silent disco would host so many spectacular performances over the four-day weekend. We had two different sets of the two GRiZ and Louis the child. Both acts performed their traditional sets with a “In pursuit of the golden hour“ set of GRiZ and a “Playground” set of Louis the Child. We also received strike sets from The String Cheese Incident, goth baby, Neil Frances, Marc E. Bassy, Dom Dolla, John Summit, and much more. The weekend was just beginning, with many more memories to be made.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the dust.
During my three years of dating, there have been still dust. That was a huge negative for me this year. Due to the sun dried sand and dirt, lots of small particles were blown away, just coating you the moment you got out of the shower trailer. Even with a bandana or mask on, the amount that came up my nose wasn’t ideal. There would also be a lot in my eyes, which is not pleasant. Especially as a photographer with glasses – I can’t see anything without my glasses.
As for the general mood, it was absolutely nothing but contagious happiness.
You could immediately tell that the attendees were just thrilled to be back as festival officials. After all, it had been too long without being able to frolic in the forest. One thing that struck me was that I didn’t come across a single person who gave off negative energy. There was a smile on everyone’s face, even tears of joy. It’s hard to come back to reality and get back to work after a weekend like this.
The only stage-level issue was inside the forest itself.
We headed to the Observatory to catch some of the Tinlicker and Rome in silver Friday and Sunday, but I had a hard time getting a better view or getting closer for photos because both sets were so packed. Well done to these guys because absolutely everyone wanted to be there. I didn’t have earplugs for any of these sets, and the bass was thumping so loudly I could feel my eardrums quivering. More importantly, when it comes to enjoying live music, ear safety is key. I would honestly say that wearing them made the festival more enjoyable.
Although the sound of each stage is quite clear, even when wearing earplugs, I did not experience any sound issues throughout the weekend. Everything was done efficiently. However, I heard that CloZee had some issues with the bass during her set – but she pulled through like a champ. Fortunately, and to everyone’s surprise, she was able to redeem her set by playing a second one at the Carousel Clubwhich was incredibly packed.
In addition to being cashless this year, Electric Forest was trying something new with 21+ wristbands.
Unlike years past, there were special wristbands for buying drinks. Someone would verify your identity in the specified tents scattered around the forest and you would receive a bracelet which they would activate for you. I had heard a worker mention that this was the first year he had tried this method of ID verification for drinks. It made things pretty smooth as you didn’t have to fumble around to get your ID out of your wallet every time you wanted a drink. They would scan the wristband, give you your drink, then kindly send you on your way.
There were also a lot of novelties at the festival this year.
As for the food, there were plenty of diet vendors to choose from. It ranged from chicken nuggets and donut burgers to vegan tacos and other tasty treats. Inside the festival itself, there were a plethora of options. I frequented the taco stands but also tried chicken nuggets from chez Excellent nuggets. They had garlic, truffle, parmesan and bacon nuggets that were out of this world. It was the perfect meal after a long day of walking and dancing.
There were also a few vendors near the Cereal Bar in the Good Life’s Eatery area. The tacos I could smell were calling my name so I had to try them. The few negatives of this experience were that there wasn’t much shade near the picnic tables they had set up for people. There was also a long wait to order and receive your meal.
Each evening as the sun went down, The Forest kept the party going with dazzling lights and smashing headliners to end the evenings.
The festival quickly went from 0 to 100 in terms of production value. With each set so close together, stagehands and lighting technicians worked their magic to quickly change the design of the sets. Notable weekend headliners included Porter Robinson, Fred again…, Fisherman, and Big Gigantic.
When the headliners were over, some fans would head back to camp or RV camping to catch late night sets. One night, fans were honored with a “Sumtronics” Set consisting of John Summit and Subtronics back to back. I missed this set, but the videos look mad.
My favorite set of the weekend was Fred Again. Her fans knew every word of every song. Not a single soul was seated, and you could feel the whole crowd’s heartbeat go to the music. It was beautiful, and Fred was thrilled to see his fans moving and dancing. He had even finished his last release, “Jungle”, so it was a nice treat.
Some other honorable mentions are LP Giobbi dropping some ABBA, YungBae bring the disco, VNSSA dropping nothing but heat, and GRiZ’s “Chasing The Golden Hour” set. He played new music from the fourth mixtape and released Prob Cause. It’s safe to say the Michigan native didn’t miss out.
All in all, this holiday in Sherwood Forest was one I will never forget.
The people, the energy, the artists, everything made this year special. For the tenth anniversary of Electric Forest, they knocked this one out of the park. Honestly, I can’t wait to get covered in sweat and dust dancing with new friends in the trees again. There are only 11 months left until June, and as you will be told in the heart of the magic, “happy forest.”