Posted Jul 5th, 2014 (3:05 pm) by Staff
Image by Jennica Abrams

Rothbury, Michigan played host once again to the fourth year of Electric Forest, where nearly 37,000 people gathered for a spectacular weekend. The luscious green grounds of Double JJ Ranch & Resort greeted people from all over the world, many of whom had attended before, to hear music spanning almost any genre you can imagine. The festival began in 2011, curated by The String Cheese Incident, the legendary jam band loved by so many. Their following is dually noted when you see the masses of people during their four hour sets, three nights in a row at Electric Forest. Now in its fourth year, lovers of electronic, jam, country, bluegrass, rap, hip hop, psychedelic, folk and so many more types of music, descend upon the festival. The beating pulse of the festival is Sherwood Forest, where some exquisite art installations, performances, sculptures, lights, music, and people collide. Growing every year, the Forest attracts you, sucks you into a hammock and makes you think. Your mind wanders, looking up at the trees, listening to the sounds of the Forest.

Section One: Organization/Production

The level of production put into Electric Forest is nearly unparalleled in the American music festival circuit. The festival is presented by Madison House Presents and Insomniac, two amazing companies dominating the live electronic event market. The amount of work put into building Electric Forest could be seen everywhere; in the trees of the forest, the stages, the paintings, sculptures, the clock tower...you couldn't turn your head without being interested in what was ahead of you. It could be anything, such as a huge dreamcatcher hanging from the trees, lasers flying across the trees of the Ranch Arena at night, the gong massage in the forest, literally anything. The layout of the festival was pretty much the same as previous years; the Tripolee stage felt more spacious and the Forest was a bit bigger than before. Music played out on five stages, all spaced plenty far enough apart on the grounds. Sherwood Forest separated the two main stages, a stroll everyone wanted to venture on through the forest. The main stage, Ranch Arena, hosted The String Cheese Incident on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, along with a diverse lineup of Zeds Dead, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Paper Diamond, Xavier Rudd, Steve Angello and more. The other stages themselves could have been a bit bigger and perhaps had a bit more production for visuals and such. I half expected a stage to have some sort of big animatronic owl since we all know Insomniac likes owls, but luckily there wasn't yet this year. Food and drinks were abundant, surrounding the stages and even in the forest you could find drinks like the “The Peach Tea Incident.” Quite refreshing. Prices were as expected, about $8 for most dishes like sandwiches, pizza or teriyaki noodles. The height of production is within Sherwood Forest, where your senses are tested. You will without a doubt see the craziest or the coolest thing you've ever seen inside the forest. The campgrounds provide everyone with a general store, equipped with food, camping necessities, cigarettes, ponchos; anything you need to make you comfortable. Once you enter the venue from the campgrounds, the Tripolee stage greets you right at the entrance and you know you're in for a treat.

Score: 25/30

Section Two: Presentation

Electric Forest is aesthetically stunning. From the grounds the festival is held on to all of the art work within the forest, the chill yet curious ambience is never lacking. To feel so within nature at this festival really provides for a great, spiritual feeling. In the forest you are drawn to walk around the trees, dodging hammocks or perhaps relaxing in one. You are drawn to the Observatory stage where you can relax at tables or participate in Psychedelic Friendship Bingo every night at midnight. The Forest is where you find the most interactive, interesting things going on. You can jam on random objects with people, or watch a pop up band on the smallest stage I've ever seen set up between trees on the ground of the forest. Picture frames all painted differently hang askew from wire, appearing as if they are floating. Performance artists walk around interacting with people and some inappropriately with trees. You can participate in a dance off in a giant cage dome, get a gong massage with your best friends, paint and draw at art tables. The forest becomes its own crazy community, a town of thousands of people all doing unique things. The creativity is flowing and energy is high.

Score: 20/20

Section Three: Sustainability Practices

As an attendee of all four years of Electric Forest, I can say this is a festival that has always been eco-friendly. Throughout the venue grounds and campgrounds are stations of three trash bins, one for trash, one for recycling and one for compost. Above the bins are signs that indicate examples of whats kinds of things can go in which bins, a lesson to the people. Recycling bags are handed out to cars when they arrive at the festival and the Electricology contest is held for who can recycle the most during their stay, including wristband upgrades, and tickets for next years festival, an enticing prize as we saw many people participating. Food and drink vendors used recyclable materials, a must for a festival of this size. Trash was a bit of an issue this year, accumulating as the night went on. A festival of this size is nearly impossible to clean as you go, but it was nice to see many people caring to keep the place clean.

Score: 18/25

Section Four: Non-Musical Entertainment

Electric Forest has the largest amount of non-musical entertainment that I've seen at a festival. It is the most interactive festival I've attended. The level of production put into non-musical entertainment of Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrow World don't even compare to the interactive nature of the forest. Just being there you feel and act a part of something bigger than you. The forest allows you to explore so many different art installations, interactive video projects, drawings and paintings...the non-musical aspect is just as huge of a part as the musical aspect at the festival. If you didn't like a single band and saw no artist perform the whole weekend, you could still have an entire experience, different everyday, just by planting yourself in Sherwood Forest.

Score 10/10

Section Five: Overall Atmosphere

Attending Electric Forest is so much more than just a fun weekend at a music festival with friends. After attending the first year of this festival, I knew I would return, because the overall atmosphere makes me so happy. I feel like I can let loose and truly enjoy some of my favorite music. I've seen so many artists now at this festival, some of the best and my most memorable performances taking place here throughout the past four years. An equally important aspect is not just the music and art, but the people you encounter. From all walks of life, people join to party in Rothbury. The uniqueness of this festival attracts so many and upon leaving you immediately want to return. The overall atmosphere is bright, creative, loud, energetic, powerful and peaceful. I talked to people who said this year was their second Forest, but most of the people said they had been all four years, just like me, they can't not come back.

Score: 13/15


The Inyourspeakers crew felt blessed to be at Electric Forest this year. Everything about the festival was pretty perfect including the weather which held up until the very final moments of the festival as Moby closed out the Tripolee stage. This is a place for those who love nature, a variety of bands and Djs, String Cheese lovers; almost anyone could have a good time. It is a reasonably priced $265 for a four-day, camping festival that features one of the most amazing auditory and visually stunning parts to a festival. The lineup, along with forest, art work, people and countless other aspects make this an American festival not to miss. If you do one camping festival and one non-camping per year, I would definitely put Electric Forest on your radar for next year. Having sold out in advance this year, it is almost sure to happen again next summer.

Final Score: 89/100

Words by Zak Littrell & Photography by Jennica Abrams

Electric Forest Festival 2014 Daily Photo Galleries & Reviews:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

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