Electric Forest has cemented its name as one of the more unique festival offerings within North America. Set inside the beautiful outdoor setting of Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan, the event offers 4-days of top notch electronic music curation alongside a plethora of live and jam band acts. In such a crowded events space, standing out among the competition is no easy feat, yet year in and year out, Electric Forest attracts thousands of revelers for its mid-summer affair.
This year proved Electric Forest’s most ambitious yet, with the event expanding to back-to-back weekends at the end of June. Fresh off last week’s conclusion, we’ve compiled 5 reasons why Electric Forest should be on your festival bucket list.
All photos courtesy of Electric Forest
1. An abundance of live electronic music
Electric Forest is not your typical large-scale electronic music festival. For one, it boasts an exceptional amount of live electronic acts versus purely DJ-driven performances. Across both weekends, hybrid acts like Bob Moses, Thievery Corporation, ODESZA, and Big Gigantic enraptured crowds with a mixture of sequenced electronic beats and improvised live elements. Bolstered by the festival’s emphasis on jam band acts like Lotus and Lettuce, along with purely electronic acts like Bassnectar and Rezz, these hybrid electronic artists ultimately proved the perfect middle ground to satisfy all fans’ cravings.
2. Surprise collaborations abound
The spirit of collaboration runs strong at Electric Forest. Nowhere is this more evident than the plethora of guest appearances, stage collaborations, and back-to-back performances that inevitably spring up throughout the weekend. This past weekend, for instance, Big Gigantic and The String Cheese Incident teamed up to become ‘The Big Gigantic Incident,’ while Matisyahu joined Trevor Hall on stage to perform “Unity.” What’s more, during Matisyahu’s own performance, a member from Preservation Hall Jazz Band filled in to play keys. These kind of surprise collaborations were pervasive throughout the weekend, and wholly appreciated.
3. Discovering new artists
It’s easy to fall into the routine of only capturing the more noteworthy artists at a festival, but at an event like Electric Forest, half the experience is discovering brand new acts. Much of this is facilitated by curiously wandering the massive venue, blindly stumbling into different theaters and tents. Such is the case with one performer, Dixon’s Violin, who many attendees might never have experienced were it not for his 3-night successive run from the outdoor Observatory stage. Those who chanced upon his late-night musical musings were fortunate enough to discover a virtuosic violin performer blending classical music tropes with live electronic looping for a truly spell-binding show.
4. Activities and art at every corner
Outside of the music, Electric Forest provided an endless amount of options to pass one’s time. From slacklining, to Sanskrit mantra meditations, every corner of the forest seemed to provide a new adventure. The center of the forest itself was akin to a teeming bazaar of art, with painters showcasing their work live to a backdrop of curious spectators buzzing about. Mornings began with yoga and meditation, while night time offerings include things like silent discos or renegade campsite parties.
5. The Forest itself
At the end of the day, what truly sets Electric Forest apart from the pack, making it a necessary addition to anyone’s festival bucket list, is its one-of-a-kind venue: Double JJ Ranch. While the prospect of a festival set in a forest is tantalizing enough, Double JJ Ranch is uniquely suited for a large-scale concert experience. With its massive clearings, wide walkways, and towering trees, it’s as if the forest itself has been perfectly tailored to the needs of a music festival — or rather yet, more likely, it’s vastly evident that the team behind Electric Forest has gone above and beyond to build the perfect festival within a forest.