Standing out from the crowd: Electric Forest remains unparalleled
Published: July 18, 2013
Story by: Adam Epstein & Duncan Ross
Photos by: Avi Gallant
Envision waking up in a distant dream where the unknown awaits at every turn and an ever-present feeling of creativity seems to fill the air. A luminous glow paves the way down a beaten path wherein lies the gleaming artistic fantasy known by many as Sherwood Forest. Situated here is a gallery of trees lined with riveting displays that are only made possible by a broad community of local artists. The warmth from this energy engulfs the entire wood like electrons frenzied around the nucleus of an atom. Absolutely nothing can prepare you for the aesthetic beauty found when wandering the Electric Forest of Rothbury, Michigan.
The eclectic blend of sounds inside Sherwood boasted a wide variety of acts over the four day span. This year featured the most stacked Thursday lineup to date beginning with longtime anticipated side-project Sucker Punch, a group consisting of keyboardist Jaime Shields from The New Deal, guitarist Mike Greenfield from Lotus, bassist Marc Brownstein and synth/keys pioneer Aron Magner from TheDisco Biscuits. If that wasn’t enough to get your pre-party bumping then shows from well-established headliners such as The Werks, EOTO and Lotus sure were.
Legendary live performance troupe Quixotic took center stage (9 times altogether!), showcasing alternative art forms like aerial acrobatics, contortionists, projection mapping and fire spinning/hooping. Complementary to Electric Forest’s fervent art arrangements, the booking showcased undiscovered talents too, like newly-touring acts Dopapod (notice the palindrome name) and Moon Hooch of Brooklyn, New York in addition to The Main Squeeze from Bloomington, Indiana. The lineup’s breadth in musical styling also hosted a bounty of mid-level acts such as BoomBox, Future Rock, Emancipator, ThePolish Ambassador, The Floozies and Break Science which provided the schedule with a solid core during the twilight hours.
Following the resounding success of this year’s gathering it is apparent that Forest has emerged as the Midwest’s premier fest. While this may be of no surprise, the origin of this event was by far in a way the strangest concoction of genres for a large-scale camping festival. By boldly combining the polar opposites jamgrass and jamtronica, we have living, breathing proof that twang and womp can not only coexist, but flourish.
Three years ago an unlikely tandem of production companies in Madison House and Insomniac breathed new life into Double JJ Ranch, saving it from certain bankruptcy. From there the duo blazed a new trail which leads attendees into an artist’s treasure trove. This shift proved to be a surefire way of changing the management’s financial fortunes. Stemming from the least expected confluence in soundscapes there blossomed an event of unimaginable artistic value. Forest has checked the competition then raised the bar, daring other mega-fests to surmount to even half of the creativity they’ve portrayed. The precedent for vivacious exhibits of art set by EF has become the paradigm, leaving other major festivals in a stupor.
Electric Forest defies the stereotype for music and art festivals by bringing both into the forefront with a plethora of live, kinetic as well as stationary art installations. An atmosphere such as this transforms your every-festi patron into participants and performers. It is through these means we find the greatest potential for a positive and influential experience to all those in attendance. Well adept in the verses of intra-sensory art, EF’s resident artists outdid themselves yet again by assembling an even grander forest with more astonishing complexities. It’s a collective exhibition that truly reflects the messages of vibrational consciousness in which music festivals encompass.