By SABRINA GREGORY, Staff Writer
Editor’s note: View a photo gallery from Electric Forest here.
For the past six years, Electric Forest has been taking festivals to the next level. Deep into the forest at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Mich. are hidden gems of magic and surprise. Every year, tens of thousands of people, from all parts of the world, come together to make a unique community full of whimsy.
During the day, far in the heart of Electric forest are hammocks tied to every tree, hula hoopers dancing around, artists painting, even couples getting married—there is an indescribable feeling of connectedness here at EF.
“Electric Forest is a community full of an array of positive vibes and amazing souls. This is my fourth year attending and every year, I’m struck with awe,” said festival attendee Linsday.
Electric Forest has built a reputation of undeniable beauty, next level art installations, hosting eclectic artists and jaw-dropping light displays. This inclusive culture isn’t just from the festival itself but also the attendees. When I first got to EF this year, I was struggling to set up my tent because I have a cast on my hand from breaking my pinky. Within seconds, two unbelievable souls—Alec and Casey—jumped in to help me out.
“No way are we going to leave you to do this alone… Happy Forest,” said Casey.
Without a doubt these two are what Electric Forest symbolizes. They are spirited individuals filled with positive energy. They came together to help me out without even being asked. They were about coming together and showing love to their neighbor. Shout out to Alec and Casey!
By night, Electric Forest lights up the entire forest with unimaginable light displays, opens doors to “secret” parties and invites everyone to get weird and dance their asses off at the seven stages placed throughout the mystical forest—Tripolee, Ranch Arena, Observatory, Forest Stage, The Hangar, Sherwood Court and Jubilee.
Tripolee, my favorite stage, is where all the bass heavy music is played. Every year the displays are more extravagant.
Ranch Arena, what most people know as the main stage of Electric Forest, host all three of The String Cheese Incidents two set shows.
“The String Cheese incident is like a democracy in that everybody can bring in songs they’ve written, styles they like to the band but as with any democracy, it does tend to slow things down a bit, but it’s the only way we know how to do things because we don’t want to exclude anybody from having the ability to bring things in and express their part of what they bring to the band,” said Bill Nershi from SCI.
SCI is legend to EF. Not only have they played every year, but they even played the main stage when it was called the Rothbury Festival.
Observatory, is hidden deep in the heart of EF. The design and detail of this stage is the most creative and inspirational I’ve ever seen at any festival.
Forest Stage, hosts a lot of secret sets along with displaying one of a kind art installations.
The Hangar is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. This stage offers services at their barbershop, tattoo parlor and so many other features.
Sherwood Court is the second largest stage at EF, tucked in the back of the forest. Kind of like a hidden gem that you have to dig deep for… That is how I feel about this stage. This stage is forever-evolving. It even hosted some of my favorite artists this year at EF.
Lastly, Jubilee. Jubilee is a tent with a Great Gatsby theme. Walking into the tent, immediately you notice the hanging chandeliers and detailed drapery.
Just as Electric Forest is full of imagination and mystical secrets, the artists that come to play are just as special.
“We realized through our routing, there are so many beautiful inspirations so we were like…let’s just try to not lay too many gigs and try to write songs and record them. So we bought a bus just before this tour, put solar panels on it to power the recording studio inside. I guess you could say it’s our mobile recording studio but what we’ve decided to do is record an album in between these festival stops,” said Brian Zaghi.
“I generally harness the atmosphere of the environment I’m in. Like, I’ll write a song in Montreal, I’ll write a song in New Zealand or something like that. But I actually struggle to finish the song unless I go back to that city or place. So sometimes is geographical, sometimes is the people of that place I’m around. That always really excites me to find new sounds, new rhythms, new ways of thinking about music and applying that to the creative process,” expressed Emoh from What So Not.
Electric Forest isn’t like any festival I’ve ever seen. It’s an enchanted world filled with unique audio and visual experiences. It’s surround by next level art installations, detailed with dreamlike decorations. Electric Forest is a place to experience and to build memories with surprises around every turn. You choose your adventure.