As the 2017 festival season seems to be nearing its close, it’s easy to forget that in addition to the incredible artists, production values, art installations, and immersive experiences, what truly makes these festivals unique, are the amazing people. On that note, there are few festivals with the diversity and ‘festival spirit’ as Electric Forest. Your EDM photographer Lucas Gregg and I attended the second weekend this year and saw firsthand how much boundless expression and pure life that these ‘people of the forest’ created there.
These two best buds (Michael Kletchka, left and Joe Alexander, right) met at USF. We ran into Joe who had camped out for a great spot at the FKJ show. He’d told us how he was sad that one of his best friends (who he introduced to FKJ) had been separated from him during the first day of weekend one. He’d also braved rain and lightning during the days inbetween weekends. Not to long after, we talked to Michael who was standing five people down talking about how he wished he could find his friend Joe. Well Lucas and I connected the dots and reunited these two wayward friends. We ultimately enjoyed an amazing FKJ set together.
Wandering the Sherwood Forest is what Alec came to do. “Nowhere else do you get this combination of atmosphere, music, artists, and people.” Most excited to see Claude Von Stroke, this Denver native’s second priority is finding new artists organically, letting his instinct guide his direction.
This is Aaron Timm from Bloomington, Indiana. His main concern in addition to enjoying the festival is what people take home with them after it’s over. “What makes up EF’s unifying spirit?” We agreed that the way festivals connect people is sorely needed in our often scattered and potentially isolated world. Timm’s solution? Get active. He was part of the clean up crew between weekends, 11 full days of volunteering. It’s not all work in the clean-up community though, as their parties can apparently be legendary. Timm has been a bus driver for 4 years, but his degrees in both neuroscience and psychology give him a unique opportunity to do more. Next on his horizon? Working for Americorp and giving back to a larger community. “I love people, I love this place, I love everything the Forest is about. It’s all love in the Forest.”
The best name for a crew during the weekend was definitely this one: Crew Anything is Possible
“We enjoy giving and taking candy, we can’t take food though. You can usually find us around major landmarks.” Officers Brandon Frankeberger and Tyler Kolomyski had some interesting observations about the people of the forest. “It can be confusing sometimes, estimating walk times from stages, especially with 60 troopers on the grounds at any given time.” They said they were mostly there for safety and receive a lot of hugs and requests for photos. Their advice? “Use a buddy system, that’s what we do. Be careful and be smart, it’s a wild festival out there.”
Emily Robinson here sports rainbow flowers while her friend Jay Green is all about the cat ears. They saw an opportunity to make an adventure up to Michigan happen when the timing of the end of their lease worked out. Their biggest anticipated shows? Big Gigantic and Flume. They’ve been college sisters for a while and both encourage each other to get out there and see the world.
This is James Frazier attorney at law. He’s helped many in the festival community with legal matters over the years. Also our campsite neighbor, he wanted to re-experience a good time, as he’d been to EF from 2011-2013. He grew up in Michigan and went to Colorado for law school. He still practices law in Denver today.
This is Jesse, an IT consultant from Los Angeles. His favorite artist at the festival that weekend was Ott and the All Seeing Eye. It’s his first Electric Forest weekend, said it had been on his bucket list for a long time. He hadn’t wanted to attend at first because he’d heard the crowding was bad. Having two weekends helped with this and helped him finally commit to going. The next shows he was excited to see? Minnesota and Bassnectar.
This is Mary from Long Island, NY. Here with a crew of 10 other people, she’s primarily here for great music. Her favorite artists? Flume and Bassnectar, both playing during weekend two. Not only was this her first Electric Forest, but also her first time ever attending a music festival. Her smile in this interaction had us believing in the wide-eyed beauty of that first-time festival experience.
This Michigan man, who’s name I never got, told me he was part of the Kalamazoo Scholarship. He had a great sense of the festival’s map, which seemed vividly available to him. He was also quite the acrobat.
Looking to get married at Electric Forest? Nate here is your man. Over the years he’s helped facilitate hundreds of festival weddings. He’s not a camper though, after a day’s work he goes back to a hotel offsite. In his case it’s necessary as his fiancee is a costumed entertainer in the ceremonies and they also juggle raising their child (currently a little over a year old.) He and his fiancee Dana are wedding team experts. At EF, they help people tie the knot in a rainbow chapel. From Detroit, they’re also involved with Theatre Bizarre.
This is Alex Johnson of Atlanta and Jordan Fletcher of Michigan. Together they’re one of the pairs that operates Electric Forest’s ‘Prize Cart’ (cue music). They’ve been working on helping festivals stay tidy for a few years now, working with a group called Electricology. “It’s great watching everyone pitch in and do their part.” In exchange for helping clean up venues at the end of each day, one lucky fan who cleans up the most wins the special prize, usually a donated item from one of the festival’s vendors. Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident (the festival’s hosts) composed the music that plays while fans are helping clear the trash out. This year Bassnectar threw his hat in the ring with a Prize Cart Remix. #NoTraceDanceSpace
Oshank here was a man of few words. The emphasis here was on the trees, and the forest. You could say that he truly saw the forest AND the trees.