Electric Forest: 4 Days of Music and Magic

Electric Forest: 4 Days of Music and Magic

Electric Forest: the best festival in the history of festivals. You may think I’m exaggerating, but EF has been my hands-down, #1 favorite festival since I first attended in 2015. (Have a different favorite festival? Share with us in the comments!)

We all know that music festivals are all about the music, and the fact that Electric Forest is 4 days long instead of the usual 3 means more time spent dancing to some of the best music out there right now. But what really sets EF above the rest of the pack is the sheer amount of thought and effort that goes into the non-music part of the experience.

True to its name, Electric Forest contains a giant wooded area on the festival grounds that is home to seemingly anything and everything you can think of. There are large and small music stages, a silent disco, a ton of art installations, decorative places to sit, a rainbow of lights illuminating the area at night, and other wonders to discover. You can sit inside a giant bird’s nest, or pick up a random phone and talk to the people who are on the other phones throughout the forest. There’s a trading post for bartering with random items, and a western style storefront complete with saloon doors that, even though they don’t lead anywhere except to continue on in the forest, are fun to make a huge display out of bursting them open every time you walk through. There were light-up orbs suspended from the sky, a robot half-buried in the ground with coded messages displayed throughout its body, and an art bar to make stick figure people, write postcards, and other crafty activities. Does this sound like the weirdest and most magical place ever? It is, truly.

There is no way I could recap for you all the music I saw that weekend, so here is a superlative-style list of some of my favorites.

Best Rainy Set

The first 24 hours of EF were marked by sporadic downpours, but the music kept going and so everyone put on their boots (or bare feet, those brave souls) and ponchos and kept on dancing. I stopped by trance superstars Above & Beyond‘s set and was completely mesmerized. I don’t even listen to trance normally but this was some of the most fun I had all weekend – their build/drop sequences were dynamic and there were a few slow, deeply emotional moments with poignant messages displayed on the screen behind them (video below!). It wasn’t raining when I first arrived at the set, so my poncho was stored safely in my backpack. A&B proved to me that night that they’re masters not only of trance, but of the weather – right in time with one of the drops, the skies opened up and it went from 0 to torrential downpour with absolutely no warning. I scrambled to put on my poncho so quickly that I didn’t even have time to figure out where my head went, and I’m pretty sure I spent the rest of the set dancing with my head in a sleeve. It did not matter.

Most Cathartic Set

British trap king TroyBoi‘s set was so intense that when his hour was up I felt like I had just spent 60 minutes pounding a punching bag. As a performer, his own energy matches that of his music, articulating the beat with his own movements, or occasionally singing/rapping along or dancing out in front of the table. At one point, my friend leaned over to me and said, “TroyBoi is absolutely top 5 right now.” When I asked, “Top 5 what?” to see if he meant top 5 of the day, top 5 of the entire festival, or something else entirely, he replied, “Doesn’t matter. Everything.” I feel similarly.

Best Non-Electronic Set

We here at Mix 247 EDM are obsessed with dance music, of course, but I personally am also a lover of funk music, both electronic and with good ol’ fashioned instruments. Though I have seen pretty much every member of legendary funk band Lettuce play with other acts, I had never been to a full Lettuce set. And let me tell you – I almost didn’t make it. There was so much mud surrounding the Jubilee stage that after the 5th or 6th time that I sank into the ground to the full height of my sneakers, I almost turned around. Jubilee was basically a castle surrounded by a protective moat keeping out anyone who wasn’t fully committed. But those who made it were rewarded by one of the best funk sets I’ve ever seen. It was the last set of the night and my legs were on fire from dancing all day, but there was so much joy in that tent that I couldn’t help but keep on moving. A guy dancing next to me had a fishing pole with a plastic lobster at the end of it, and he would use the pole to dangle the lobster in front of the face of a random dancer a few feet in front of him. Every time the person would notice and turn around, startled, he would laugh uncontrollably, which caused that person – and me – to laugh uncontrollably, too. This was the vibe that Lettuce brought out in people.

Most Emotional Set

I’m not really a crier, but something about Odesza‘s headlining set brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been fortunate to watch this band from their near-infancy, playing tiny venues with minimal production value. And to think that they’re now closing out major festivals, with the addition of a horn section and a drumline. They were the most scheduled act in the Electric Forest app (more, even, than Bassnectar!), and the rest of the festival grounds were sparse as I made my way (late – whoops) to their set. Their music is beautiful; end of story.

If you’ve never been to Electric Forest, consider it officially on your festival bucket list. It is a truly unique and memorable experience – see you there in 2018!

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