One of EDM’s most renowned festivals, curated in careful creativity from the famous Ocular Organ to The Time Travel Agency Scavenger Hunt, the annual Electric Forest embraces the hearts and souls of new members joining the Forest Family as well as returning loyalty members who have made Sherwood Forest in Rothbury, Michigan—a home away from home.
As every year’s theme welcomes new additions to the experience, The Dream Emporium inducted this year’s comforting yet motivational message: Dare to Dream.
A Surreal Start to the Summer Solstice
The summer solstice began on June 21st when early arrival took place and the campsite was ready for a weekend of ether magic. June 22nd was the welcome day of a weekend destined with bursting sun that wouldn't fall until almost 10pm every night. Nearly 24 hours of music between the official stages, after parties (afters), and Lucky Lake swimming parties was a lineup crafted for those in search of breaking into their feral nature.
Pixie houses leading to Sherwood Court sheltered crystals/gems, rings, bracelets, and origami folded birds. The Giving Tree past the The Ranch Stage was surrounded with crowds of generosity prepared to give sunglasses, stickers, condoms, and even a whole vibration pack nudged onto a high branch for someone who lost their hydration pack.
Returning to the tree to find the item thankfully taken and appreciated by someone else was fulfilling based only on the satisfaction of giving without return. Giving without the expectation of return was one of the many lessons Electric Forest teaches in its novelty experiences.
Despite 30,000 steps or more each day, a rain storm, possible sunburn, and palpable dust in the night’s atmosphere, was a recipe for congestion or wook flu. It didn’t matter to many because the communion of song and dance provided a rebirth of spiritual connection or tree-hugging magnificence.
On night 1, Odesza entranced the Forest Family beginning their set with “Intro” continued with their talented drumline and fireworks for their finale. On night 2, DIESEL vibrated the microphone at The Tripolee Stage with a request to “open the pit."
On night 3, Disco Lines performed a genre-blending set of a lifetime at The Carosel Stage with his hyper house style heard in ”MDMA” mixed with moments of heavy bass which caused the crowd to collectively scream in a “woah."
At the same time at The Ranch Stage, Zeds Dead remixed Destiny’s Child songs such as “Say My Name” and “Bills, Bills, Bills” with irresistible basslines to dense lasers. It was breathtaking to find the lasers also dancing on the tall pine trees in latterns at Sherwood Court.
My favorite performance from the entire weekend was Space Wizard’s fusion of dubstep and space bass on day 3. Feeling thankful to have seen a headliner on my bucket list, he ended his set advising the Forest Family, “Follow your dreams. I used to work at Walmart."
Dressed for the Pines
In “Forest Fashion," mushroom fairies dressed in pearl-laced red and white spotted mushroom cap hats and fluffy petticoat skirts were present across the stages.
Creative characters curated their individual DIY/hand-sewn outfits you couldn’t witness at just any rave: jewel crowns, tinsel jackets, Mad Hatter hats, crochet skirt sets. Walking between the stages you could hear multiple Hulk Holgans in costume warming up to you with a deep grunting of the timeless phrase “hell yeah, brother”.
Rainbow-printed outfits and eyeshadow were another expression to celebrate Pride month. My personal favorite styled look included The Cuckoo Clock Fairies walking along the path around a The Observatory to Sherwood Court in spreading the imaginative energy in every “CUCKOO!” separated by the wall of their birdhouse-shaped helmets.
The Dream Emporium
The Dream Emporium was a never-ending channel of doors directing to rooms with a roller rink, a pastel pink cake and characters emulating the set from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, a domination room with a domme, a human car wash, and a birth canal.
In the birth canal, a pastor guided groups with affirmations, “I accept myself. Today is my re-birthday and today I am here to dance and celebrate”. After, the birth canal lead to an igloo with a DJ mixing 80s dance hits such as “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. dazzled with blue led ice cube art installations.
Visiting The Dream Emporium was necessary to complete the Time Travel Agency Scavenger Hunt. Accomplishing the scavenger hunt awards you with a limited edition button pin and access to a secret door in The Dream Emporium and access to a hidden speakeasy.
Dare to Dream was printed on the pin to remind attendees of that simple yet powerful philosophy everyone needs to hear once in a while.
Evol Afters of Experimental Music
The rumor of days becoming nights only to become morning again are beautifully true. It’s a guaranteed promise of a dance between music, trees, and morning birds.
The after parties (afters) began at 3:15am and ended at nearly 8am. The two stages accompanied with four mountains of Hennesey Sound speakers provided were located directly next to each other for EDM history to take place.
Champagne Drip performed a techno set and a DNB set to remain known as his alias, Champagne Trip. On Day 2, Peekaboo B2B Ganja White Night started the party followed by TRUTH performing during the 6am sunrise.
On night 3, SVDDEN DEATH finished a VOYD set at Sherwood Court then performed a house set in a pair of shades during the late hours of the night. Of course, ravers also wore shades in anticipation for the sun. Dark with riddim yet delicious with his nonstop rhythm, it was a house set designed for the vampires ending before sunrise.
My personal tip for any after: bringing a small blanket preferably with a kitten print and comfortable shoes is the way to bring the comfort of your bed with you. Party on, my feral friends.
The Forest Family once again exited Rothbury changed from soul-nourishment moments bestowed from the dance floor, ultimately leaving more grateful and hopeful than before.
Until Electric Forest 2024, Forest Family—dare to dream!