Words by: Richard Saxe Coulson
Photos by: Jennifer Perryman
14 hours from New York City in literally the middle of nowhere, lies a tiny little town by the name of Rothbury, Michigan that plays host to a population 10 times its size once a year that becomes a familial-like community. Upon arrival in Rothbury, one must visit the grocery store for the long haul stacking up on lots of fruits, veggies, granola, nuts, and lots of beer (there is no limit at Electric Forest). You’ll wait in a line of cars filled with eager festivalgoers before being directed to where to park. Once you park behind the rope (which is strictly regulated) you’ll have to mark and note where your tent is – amongst the sea of 50-60,000 tents and canopies – and quickly setup your living quarters. Some people setup shop in the bed of their pickup trucks and you’ll see portable showers, makeshift kitchen sets, area rugs, various tapestries, and even an octagon full of hammocks. The options are endless with full-fledged lighting and sound systems and non-stop parties throughout the 4,5,6 days.
It is a marathon, not a race…but who needs sleep? Venturing into the forest without shoes to “be at one with nature” and you’ll realize that there are woodchips everywhere and you might not have any feet left to last the day. When entering upon the festival grounds, the first thing you want to do is explore. There are countless amazing activities to engage in and so many areas and stages to encounter.
At first you might be unsure of who to see or where to go – upon first entry of the festival – you’ll walk past the Tripolee stage on your right with a bar to your left and vendors facing directly in front of you. Walk up a slight incline and you’ll notice the Electric Glen area to your right where they hold the discussion panels. Walk a bit further and you’ll see the official festival merchandise area before you enter The Ranch Arena. Next you’ll walk up a small hill into the Sherwood Forest – an absolutely phenomenal area filled with life. Three stage areas and a silent disco make up the forest with countless hammocks placed in-between the trees. Exiting the forest will put you right in the heart of where the Jubilee and The Hangar stages lie, making for a total of 7 stages.
With so much going on at Electric Forest, there is no way you can cover it all. Hot air balloon rides, a full barber shop, salon, and there is even a saloon with free massages. A wooden tavern with over 30 beers on tap and an endless amount of theatrics and activities make this one of the most memorable festivals to date. There is an infinite amount of discoveries to be made with people constantly shouting “happy forest” or “Carl” or simply just introducing themselves or commenting on another’s costume. It is almost impossible to not have a good time in the forest.
Two older gentleman in top hats by the name of Bart and Baker came with an entire choreographed performance along with pin-up girls dancing along to the bass heavy music infused with everything from 50’s pop songs to Michael Jackson. Pete Tong, Dubfire, John Digweed, and Carl Cox all shared the Tripolee Stage while Skrillex sung along with The String Cheese Incident at The Ranch Arena. Jam Bands Lettuce and Lotus were at Sherwood Court and Wolf & Lamb’s Crew Love threw down in the middle of the forest with Life On Planets, Wolf & Lamb, Midnight Magic, and Soul Clap.
MJ Cole, Green Velvet and Claude Von Stroke (before they paired up as Get Real) also shared the Tripolee Stage and Paul Oakenfold brought Sunday to a close. Everything from the vendors, to the artists, to the performers, to the people that attended this event made for an energy and vibe that was insurmountable.
Next Electric Forest is June 23-26th, 2016 in Rothbury, MI
You have to be quick to get tickets on sale for this one but you can try your luck here: Tickets