Road Trip Report: Electric Forest Music Fest

William Gross
Special to The Aspen Times
Fireworks, acrobats and confetti filled the sky over Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan.
Courtesy photo |

“Family” is normally defined as a social unit of related siblings, parents and grandparents. But at Electric Forest Music Festival, which took place in Rothbury, Michigan, last weekend, family took on a whole new meaning. Everyone who was able to experience the Forest became family.

Electric Forest is like nothing else I’ve experienced, and I now know why — in its fifth year, people call it the highlight of their summer.

“Electric Forest does a great job of booking mainstream names that sell tickets and artists that fans have never seen,” said DJ Martin Folb (aka “MartyParty”).

Added Aspenite Weston Petrovich: “The Electric Forest crowd is much more of a creative crowd compared to other festivals. … I gained so much in every way from this weekend, and I feel like an entirely new person with a whole new outlook on life.”

From the moment I arrived at the festival, I could feel the good vibes in the air and knew it was a good one. The truck pulled up to Camp No Coast — a group camping spot of 150 with two live DJs. Then it was time to get the tent set up and get into the festival. As I stood in line, I could feel the love from everyone; high fives as I was walking in to the festival from the line, people holding up poles with sayings such as, “I’m Alive Mom” and “Ground Scores” (with an image of Gollum from “Lord of the Rings.”)

Once in the festival I noticed all of the production that goes into it. The Sherwood Forest alone is something that makes you feel like you’ve entered a fairytale. You look up and there are actors on stilts walking around, crazy exhibits everywhere with spiritual gong sessions and trippy mirrors. Then the trees begin to glow at night and you truly can feel a once-in-a-lifetime psychedelic experience (whether under the influence of drugs or not).

Besides the great people and production of the festival, there were some amazing highlights

On the musical spectrum, Odesza — the duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knights — came out with a bang Thursday, bashing drums and showing fans that electronic music is about more than a DJ pressing “play” and blasting off videos and lasers. From their hits such as “Say My Name” and “Sun Models” to some remixes, no one could be disappointed with this set.

Lotus really made fans and newcomers alike realize, in bassist Jesse Miller’s words, that it’s “more interesting to watch a performance rather than pumping their fist in front of a laptop.” Lotus was on fire, feeding off each other in an instrumental frenzy.

The weekend couldn’t have been complete without Boulder’s String Cheese Incident. The band played three shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday, consisting of 6 sets and more than 11 hours of music. If you’re a Cheesehead, you had to be amazed by their performance of rock jams to acoustic melodies and even a dubstep track through live instrumentation. In the sky were Cirque du Soleil performers, floating above you with blimps, fireworks and confetti.

I am still trying to get back to reality, as many are, after being a part of what I can only now call the Forest Family.