I drove home from Firefly 2015 to face reality for a couple days, only to leave for the Sherwood Forest at Electric Forest 2015 the following week. Electric Forest has entered its fifth year bringing tens of thousands of people together at Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan with a massive lineup and an even larger festival experience.
This year’s lineup included headliners such as The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Skrillex, Kaskade and Big Gigantic. One of the things Electric Forest does best is offer a very diverse lineup that allows you to explore and listen to acts you have never heard of before and leave the festival with a new favorite.
Speaking of exploring – Electric Forest strives to engage the festival community by providing tons of activities and experiences for you to find. Everyone can tell you these experiences are made inside the Sherwood Forest when the sun sets. Located in the middle of the festival, an enchanted, magical forest filled with live artist paintings, LED art installations, hammocks, comedy shows, stilt performers, and tons of other hidden gems for you and your friends to get lost and explore in. I highly recommend spending some time to see all the forest has to offer come sun set – you can find something new and exciting every time you pass through.
This was my first year attending Electric Forest, and it won’t certainly be my last. The hype and anticipation that surrounds this festival was felt immediately once I was immersed in the festival. The amount of time and effort that the Electric Forest employees and volunteers put into the festival experience is shown by the intricate stage designs, diverse food trucks and clothing vendors, as well as the art installations and daily events and activities throughout the festival.
Electric Forest is not like any other festival, the organizers as well as the festival goers all truly respect the land and strive to leave it in equal or better shape than when everyone arrived. Countless volunteers helped keep the grounds clean of trash all while providing a fun and loving environment. The respect of the land also carries over to the respect for the people.
The amount of compassion and encouragement is astonishing at Electric Forest. Everyone is always looking out for everyone – need sunscreen? Someone’s got your back, and shoulders. Lost your friends? You just made fifteen new best friends who have taken you into their dance circle at the main stage. Hungry? Someone wearing nothing but a bacon costume might just offer you one of his thirty extra hot dogs he cooked just for others. Need a place to relax and chill out in the middle of the day? Someone will share their hammock with you! Need to get married? Hundreds of people will stand by your side for the greatest moment of your life.
Two of the most memorable experiences of Electric Forest for me were the String Cheese Incident set, where they turned their performance into one of the best productions I have ever seen. While the band played live for thousands, fireworks were going off in the sky above the stage, mini LED blimps started to circle the crowd from above, and finally a balloon with an acrobat dangling below performing aerial aerobics coasted around the crowd. It was breathtaking seeing all of this come together for the festival’s main headliner; followed by an incredible Bassnectar set.
My other most memorable experience was shown throughout the festival with the respect. Respect for oneself, others, and the environment/grounds. Throughout the festival I saw many people thanking and trading kandi with Michigan State Police officers. Positive experiences were had with the State Police and everyone loved that even they were enjoying themselves as much as they can – playing glow stick hopscotch or seeing who could get the most kandi. They were even cracking jokes at the festival entrance as patrons entered past security “That’s all you guys got? I thought you were going to go way harder”, “Nickleback surprise set – main stage 8pm” or “No, we are not real police, were in the band State Police and we play at 6pm main stage, come listen to us!”
Pictures and articles can’t do this festival enough justice. You have to experience this for yourself and I will leave you with three tips for your first Electric Forest experience:
- Try Spicy Pie pizza, and Gouda Boys ‘Gangsta Rolls’
- Get lost and always take a new path going through Sherwood Forest
- Make a new friend….or 50.
Happy Forest, see you next year!