“Through 8 days of beautiful madness, through sun and stars and even patches of rain, the #ForestFamily shone bigger and brighter than ever before.”
Electric Forest 2017 was one for the books, stretching a total of 8 official days if you were lucky enough to experience both weekend 1 and weekend 2 of the enchanting music festival in Rothbury, Michigan.
An insanely diverse electronic lineup (with literally every sub-grenre you can imagine, plus jam, indie rock, and more), is just one way Electric Forest leads the pack in an over-saturated age of music events. Not to mention the elaborate costumes, storylines, and adventures spread across acres worth of psychedelic art and discovery in Sherwood Forest, which one could easily invest all of their time in and still somehow leave satisfied. And, most importantly, the connections made with all the amazing forest creatures — the people — without which, Electric Forest would be meaningless.
This year, the lineup, the adventures, and the people were to be expected… but the unique 8-day trip, as the music festival took over 2 back-to-back weekends for the first time ever, was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced!
8 DAYS OF ELECTRIC FOREST – OFFICIAL RECAP VIDEO
8 DAYS OF ELECTRIC FOREST REVIEW
Weekend 1, Day 1
My first day of Electric Forest was spent roaming around from stage to stage, soaking in a little bit of everything and getting my bearings… No matter how many times you go to Electric Forest, it takes some time to adjust.
There wasn’t too much time to plan out the night because Space Jesus was soon to take the stage at The Hangar. Going in — and I say this as a term of endearment, really — I knew his set was about to be a “shit show.” Throwing a beloved act like Space Jesus on the smallest enclosed stage EF has to offer, mixed with mud, mixed with pure day 1 chaos, mixed with Space Jesus fans made for a interesting time to say the least. While the overflow of people and sticky heat it emitted was too much for some to handle, persistence was key. By the middle of the set I had a dope spot in the center of the crowd as he threw the fuck down, giving out unreleased tracks like candy. What an awesome start to the weekend.
Next up, I was able to breathe and vibe to the beautiful vocal stylings of Banks. Just, ugh. Then, I made some ample time to play in the psychedelic playground as Sherwood Forest came to life for the first time in 2017. (No words can really describe the magic of the actual forest at EF, you’ve just got to experience it for yourself.)
Speaking of magic… Above & Beyond at Ranch Arena was incredibly refreshing, pure musical bliss. They’re one of those acts that you have to see at least once in your life if you love electronic music, and they perfectly rounded out a solid first day at EF.
Weekend 1, Day 2
It makes me sick to say I didn’t even attempt to trudge through the mud to get my Pendulum DJ set fix (or later, my Nero fix), which I seriously needed. But, in my defense, it was really hard to move around at Tripolee at that point, as some parts of the land were puddles that resembled lakes, and the outskirts had resorted to single file lines around the mess. But, I do love me some TroyBoi, so whatever. Trap banger after trap banger after trap banger, he straight up gave the people of EF what they wanted. But, he was a little lax on dropping much of his own productions, unfortunately.
Holding down the spot at Sherwood Court, Tycho was undeniably beautiful and a perfect lead in to Odesza back at Ranch Arena, the heart of Electric Forest. Since the duo’s last set at forest, much has changed — the freshness of Odesza’s new material, mixed with remixes and edits of older fan favorites made the set extra special. I don’t know if there’s anything that goes better together than Electric Forest and Odesza.
Since I’m being real, I gotta say we left Odesza early to get a prime spot for Barclay Crenshaw aka Claude VonStroke aka alien abductor extraordinaire. And, goddamn, was I happy with that choice as people crowded around on each side, in the back, and on the above ground structures at The Observatory. As the master stepped behind the decks, things immediately got weird… and loud… and so perfect. It was mind-blowing how much he changed up his set from Movement Detroit, but still delivered that raw, underground hip hop underlying factor, mixed with material from his self-titled debut album Barclay Crenshaw and seamlessly manipulated sounds that I didn’t know humans were capable of hearing. Bravo, dude.
Weekend 1, Day 3
The forest gods dried up the mess at Tripolee so AC Slater was a total dance party — it was time to put our shuffle shoes on and get to work. It was kind of like my, “Ah, finally, some really good house music!” moment that I needed and it absolutely recharged me like a battery.
Next up, it was Ganja White Night, one of my absolute favorite acts to see. And, now that I’m thinking of it… The only thing that goes together better than Electric Forest and Odesza, is Electric Forest and Ganja White Night. These guys were all over the place at EF, and their utter joy on stage was infectious every single time.
*spent undetermined amount of time in Sherwood Forest*
REZZ… omg… so… crazy. The darkest, most unrelenting bass, mixed with pure bliss; Space Mom knew just what we wanted and went HAM. Mind control. Hypnotization. Whatever she was doing up there, we were completely at her mercy. For a moment, I found myself looking for an escape like perhaps a dancing unicorn circle?! But, no. Mad respect for REZZ, who has taken her DJ production to the next level, ultimately making her the most talked about set both weekends.
What is there to even say about EF resident Bassnectar?! He has completely morphed from a DJ/producer into some kind of musical shapeshifter that can’t even be defined. During his set there was no certainty of time and space, no genres, and no limits. While half the time I spent wondering what I was even listening to, the other half I spent letting go. Bassnectar proved once again he’s a true legend at EF.
Weekend 1, Day 4
My weekend 1, day 4 consisted of soaking in the forest one last time, then a bass heavy run at Jubilee with Minnesota into Ganja White Night into 12th Planet.
One of the best parts about EF, in my opinion, is the annual 12th Planet set(s). Whether he’s on the lineup or not, he comes, he conquers, and fills in wherever he can. If an artist can’t make it, or if there’s an opportunity for a secret set, 12th Planet is usually there to save the day! As always, he blasted us out of this world.
Big Gigantic closed out weekend 1 for us at Sherwood Court, with the perfect balance of “feel good” and “go hard” as the Forest Family gathered around and got down one last time. What felt like a bittersweet end was really only the end of the beginning.
Weekend 2, Day 1
“Wait, what? I’m back? Did I ever even leave?” My brain was racing and my body was in shock as I hit the Electric Forest campgrounds again for round 2. Spending a few days back in “real life” in a complete daze wasn’t ideal but I was so happy to be back that the in-between weirdness was already a distant memory.
Looking around, something seemed a little off, though. Then, upon entering the venue it was clear, there was hardly any people compared to the sold out weekend 1. In the first 24 – 48 hours of weekend 2 especially, there was a drastic difference in crowd size at every show, and it was a breeze to walk through Sherwood Forest — a feat not so easily done through mass amount of people weekend 1. What my friend group called “Diet Forest” was a treat for the diehards who were dedicated to attending all 8 days, who were able to navigate quickly from stage to stage with unobstructed views galore.
A little Yahtzel, a little Chris Lake, a LOT of SNBRN b2b Dr. Fresch, and I was back in it, feeling my Electric Forest stride again. But, I also couldn’t help feeling like something was missing… “Is EF even EF without all of the people?!”
That mindset quickly changed as I b-lined for Sherwood Court’s stage right for the most intimate Cashmere Cat festival set I’ve ever seen. “Screw the people, this is an awesome view, right?!” Just kidding. But, I’m being real when I say that set was something extraordinary. Cashy went “full Kanye” with a simple setup, no visuals, minimal lighting, and just the right amount of smoke to set the scene. His intricate, moody transitions and unrelenting bass had me in awe and gasping for air the entire set.
HI-LO (Oliver Heldens) brought the energy back at Tripolee for another ridiculously awesome show. Honestly, I don’t remember the details of that one because I was having too much damn fun.
Weekend 2, Day 1
Zeke Beats’ scratch set at the Forest Stage and Delta Heavy’s bassy productions kicked day 2 off in a crazy way! Then, it got even crazier during 12th Planet’s prime slot at Tripolee. He blasted us back to outer space per usual, which led into an energetic, pumped up set from Valentino Khan, then into my most favorite artist in the world… Alison Wonderland.
The newly familiar notes of AW’s “Is It Good Enough” ID rang out across the most massive crowd I had seen at weekend 2, and everyone completely lost their shit (including myself). Alison Wonderland destroyed Tripolee at Electric Forest 2 years ago, and she was back to destroy it again. With her impeccable song selection and mixing abilities to die for, Alison once again took us to Wonderland and proved she’s an unstoppable force in electronic dance music. AW made for my favorite set over both weekends, but I’m also unapologetically biased, so feel free to take that in stride.
Flume took over Ranch Arena and the forest fell silent, with moments of audible bliss that erupted from the audience. Powering through a slew of his old hits, newer masterpieces, and even a ground-shaking ID, this guy’s set was pure, imaginative butter. Ok, that sounded weird but words are hard at this point trying to even describe how magical it truly was. Flume and EF complimented each other in the most breathtaking way ever.
Weekend 2, Day 3
Whew. I felt this “8 Days of Forest” thing starting to kick my ass. It was hard to be upset about a ridiculously late start to the day… And, by that I mean the first full set I caught was Illenium at 2:00 am, technically day 4, but it still counts as day 3.
Illenium though, every ounce of energy I saved up during that day came in great use for his set — which completely took me out of reality and straight into the beautiful soundscape of the melodic producer. Dancing was unavoidable, with some hard, straight up grimey moments and plenty on the softer side, but equally as moveable. It should be mentioned that Illenium’s intentional, impressive set featured about 90% of his own music, which played out perfectly to the vibes of Electric Forest.
Weekend 2, Day 4
Intricate hanging baskets of exotic flowers that must have been imported from God-knows-where, live art displays, scavenger hunt secrets, portals to other dimensions, impromptu piano performances, and so much more… The last day of EF 2017 was dedicated to time well spent in the forest. I was finally able to more thoroughly check out the memorial of Wally Wojack, the man who planted the seeds of Sherwood Forest. To light a candle for a loved one (RIP Uncle Marv). To barter with the dude at the Trading Post, and trade a mysterious golden egg for the Game of Thrones Khaleesi action figure I’d been eyeballing all weekend.
“Space Mom” REZZ came out to abduct the EF earthlings one last time, completely shredding Tripolee, and again completely hypnotizing everyone in the process. The mud decided to make a surprise guest appearance again, so that, mixed with a shining moonrise, a mass of spiderwebs, and REZZ’s trippy production made for arguably the most insane set of the entire weekend. We were all possessed or something (in a good way), completely fixated on the stage, and literally, stuck in the mud.
RL Grime saved my life that night. So many trap bangers have never been played out so creatively and with such precision within a single set. It was the type of show you rage to, and cry to — you dance to, but it also brings you to your knees. Just as he gave his all, I attempted to reciprocate through probably the worst dance moves ever, rocking my “Because of U” tee like a true fangirl. I left the show dead. RIP me.
Bassnectar didn’t hold back in his closing set at Ranch Arena, in fact he brought it even harder than week 1. The intimacy was on point due to the smaller crowd. While people normally have to camp out for a good spot, maybe grill a steak in the process, we were able to walk right up for a stellar view just 5 minutes before the set. Bassnectar expressed his gratitude and compassion for Electric Forest through both his wilder, and more reflective works of art — the love could be felt in the air, and through the purring of the subs.
With that, Bassnectar officially closed out “8 Days of Forest” for us like a bassy cherry on top of the “beautiful madness” of Electric Forest!