With a name like the Electronic Forest Music Festival, it’s hard to know what to expect. Rows upon rows of tents, littered, dust covered fields and people from all walks of life buzzed around excitedly. I saw a girl wearing a giant smile who carried around a cloth sign that read “everybody loves you here.” Now it’s no Woodstock on the Double JJ Ranch, but I had no idea just how accurate that sign really was and what kind of experience this music festival could be.
The Electric Forest Music Festival is exactly what it sounds like; an electro-themed set of concerts that takes place in a forest. This year there were six stages: The Forest Stage, The Observatory, and The Silent Disco which were immersed deep in the forest while Tripolee, Ranch Arena, and Sherwood Court had large clearings in order to accommodate headliner performances. Each stage had a different theme, my favorites being Tripolee, which had an insane display of colors, shapes, and light shows at all times, and The Forest Stage who’s location in the forest encouraged listeners to bring hammocks and blankets to watch performances from the trees.
I spent most of my time at the bigger stages watching headliners such as Pretty Lights, Passion Pit, Beats Antique, GrizMatik, Tommy Trash, A-trak, and Krewella. The first show I saw was A Tribe Called Red, an electronic music group from Canada that put on an amazing show. Their music was a mix of reggae, hip-hop, and dubstep, with a heavy Native American influence. A Tribe Called Red surprised the crowd with a Native American dancer decked out in authentic costume and make-up who appeared during their act. It was by far the most unique concert I have ever witnessed. But it’s difficult to say which show was my favorite; the line-up was far too diverse to compare all the acts. A couple of shows that stuck out more than the others were Danny Brown, Kill the Noise, Just Blaze, Reptar, Nervo, Passion Pit and Krewella who gave a shout out to the Croatian flag my group was waving, making our lives complete.
But Electric Forest was about so much more than the music. The atmosphere is unlike any other music festival in the world. There were organized activities such as yoga, hula hooping, and drum workshops, as well as unorganized activities like an “Einstein moments” station where people could play with Legos and beat on instruments made from recycled trash. Workers dressed in costumes and stilts would run around the forest playing tag and taking pictures with all the campers. There were stations where people could dress up as cowboys or sit around in tipis and talk to strangers. While exploring the forest, I stumbled across a giant, white brain that appeared to be suspended in the air. Campers could scan their entry bracelets beneath the brain and watch a different pattern display on the floating cranium; everyone’s brain was different.
Electric Forest was like a playground for adults; a recess from the real world. It didn’t matter how old you were, where/if you went to school, or what you looked like; everyone was your friend. Words cannot express the bonds that were made. You will never find a more diverse congregation. as cliché as it sounds, Electric Forest changed my life. I want to thank Clare McElwee for bringing me along; I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into. I’d also like to thank everyone at my campsite for contributing to what made this experience so special for me, and the infamous Croatian flag. Eye-opening, unforgettable, humbling, remarkable; I could write hundreds of pages of just adjectives to describe my weekend and it still wouldn’t do the forest any justice. So, I guess I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
Photos and article created by Iember Hemben