When you first arrive at Electric Forest, your inevitable reaction is to do absolutely everything. “I have to ride the ferris wheel. I have to go to the beer tasting. I have to remember to watch the talent show at midnight. I have to do the silent disco. When is that secret set? What tattoo should I get? Hopefully it’s hot enough for the waterpark. Oh, when am I going to go shopping under that double platform stage in the middle of the Forest? And what about “Main Street” in the camping area – I have to stop there on my way in tomorrow – and shoot, I need to make it to Bassnectar 12 hours early…”
This reaction to do everything? Resist it. There is no possible way. There is simply too much going on at any given moment to do everything in this wooded wonderland. If you try, all you will do is fulfill a checklist instead of ensuring that you experience something much deeper.
For me this year, I made a point to do some things I missed last year. I went to shows I had no intention of seeing, I wandered in the Forest with people I met that same day, I took some time to explore by myself, and I even missed a photo op because I found a spaceship in the middle of the woods (Nope! Not on drugs! That’s just the Forest for you!).
So here are some Electric Forest pictures taken by a few people (including myself) that trigger memories of some moments that found me.
If you were there this year, hopefully these pictures trigger memories of your own special moments. If you’re thinking about going in the future, keep in mind that this is just my personal memoir, and but a fraction of all there is to experience.
15 ELECTRIC FOREST PICTURES & MEMORIES
*banner photo courtesy of Electric Forest
EPIC SHOWS. Hippie Sabotage quelled the controversy with one of the two brothers going out into the crowd at one of the biggest stages, holding an LGBT flag and talking about peace. That was followed by him taking beers from the crowd, chugging and dumping them on his head. That was followed by the other brother's stage dive which went right over my head and concluded with a five-minute crowd surf. Also, The String Cheese Incident once again proved to have the most elaborate production (pictured) and some of the best music.
BEAM ME UP, BUTTERCUP. One new, standout structure this year was a "Star Ship Enterprise" in the middle of the forest. It stood out, not only because it was a star ship, but because the production quality was very b-movie, unlike everything else around. I didn't plan to return, but a friend convinced me one night and that place went off, let me tell you. There was a DJ in a bodysuit, and a male go-go dancer robo-humping a mannequin to techno, all amongst dozens of Forest cadets. Other finds included a telephone nailed to a tree in the woods from which you could actually call the upstairs of the Trading post (pictured).
SOUND WAVE ODYSSEY. When I was walking through the Forest, I heard a soft roar coming from beneath a tent. It turned out to be a group of people sitting in a tightly-knit circle, surrounded by ringing gongs. I jumped in the next group and we were told how our consciousness was about to leave this world and travel to the stars. Mission accomplished.
GAME ON. Never thought I'd be going bowling when I left for Electric Forest, but that's what happened. Not only were the pin-up parlor, tattoos and body buffer stations from last year still under the Hanger, there was now an entire game zone with billiards, ping pong and bowling. I tried my hand at the latter, only knocking down a few pins which left a nasty split. I started walking away out of embarrassment, but the gamesman in suspenders working the lanes convinced me to try the impossible. I threw the ball and – boom! – split picked up! The gamesman yelled out, "Did everyone just see that?!" High fives all around. Must have been that magic Forest dust clinging to my hands from the walk in.
WANDERLUSTS. I ran into who I think may have said they were the land owners of the festival (lost my notes in the shuffle), two 70-year olds, at around midnight on Saturday night. No joke. They were just there to take it all in. I also met Harley (pictured) on the outskirts of the big Ranch stage area. She is an artist who told me how she's lived on the road, bouncing from festival to festival, city to city which has helped her anxiety.
"MOST CREATIVE." Diplo whipped off his shirt during the Major Lazer performance and encouraged the crowd to throw theirs to the night sky. He exclaimed that Electric Forest was a "favorite festival" of his with "the most beautiful, the most creative people".
ALL BETS OFF. Usually, when media are in the photo pit, the artists wait to go crazy so there aren't any accidents. Well, right before Major Lazer went on, we were told all bets were off. Sure enough, they rolled out this Walshy Fire globe almost immediately.
HIDDEN GEMS. I caught Yotto off-schedule on the fort grounds of the two-story Trading Post in the middle of woods one night where atmosphere and music converge – right in between the main forest path and the orange glow of silence (the Silent Disco by HUSHconcerts). Rufus Du Sol followed. The only mention of these two performances was a sheet of paper stapled to a tree inside the Trading Post and these intimate performances proved to be some of the best from the weekend.
NARNIA. There's a couple different ways to get to Sherwood Forest (the geographic and metaphysical heart of the venue). The second "back way" has a little off-shoot that's kind of a black hole. The glow of the various areas seems to not be able to reach it somehow, so many attendees are snoozing there in the hammocks. Yet, a bit of color caught my eye as I walked by. When I investigated, I found a random (and damn good) piano performance being put on by a random attendee which captured a good crowd including this photogenic lion.
MIJA JUBILEE. Mija had a big show scheduled for Saturday, but I decided to take in the smaller one at the Jubilee tent-stage in the back of the grounds. There was far more room to groove under the shaded big-top, and Mija tore up the place with a much rowdier set than expected.
SOUL OF THE FOREST. Instead of the big names being stuck to the massive stages, several doubled up at more intimate nooks and crannies like Mija did. Soul Clap (pictured) and Styles&Complete played a set on the Forest Stage, Party Favor had a second set in the Forest, Diplo had a secret set for Good Life VIP ticket holders and I'm sure there was a bunch of stuff I missed. GRiZ and Shooka also went b2b at The Observitory that amassed a massive crowd deep in the forest. This is completely normal for Electric Forest as an impromptu performance can take place around every corner (or tree).
SOL OF THE FOREST. Rufus Du Sol literally came out of the woodwork to play an unadvertised set the day before their "real" performance.
CRAFTWORK. Walking through the Forest on route to a performance is always a tricky task. In one instance, I diverted to the Art Bar, an 'L' shaped construct in the trees. I decided to create a medallion necklace crafted from a small slice of old festival tree, which I stamped with an assortment of color and shapes. Not sure where the girl pictured here prepared all her accessories, but her craft is a great representation of the kind of creativity I ran into.
THROWBACK. I met a lot of amazing new people this year, and reunited with a few old friends I had met during previous years in the Forest. I also reunited with an old friend from high school who I hadn't seen in years. We met up, reconnected, and had one hell of a time at the Silent Disco, Star Ship Enterprise and just chilling at his campsite. Instead of the boring "catch up on life" stuff, we gave life to new memories. Much more fun.
So when you go to Electric Forest next year, revel in all the moments that find you, no matter how much they divert from your plan. And know that you’ll be back the next year to do more. Because once you’ve been in the Forest, you’ll be a Forester forever.