Having changed the way music is experienced, music festivals have become a huge part of American culture, with over 60 taking place in the United States alone this year (via Rolling Stone). With so many festivals to choose from, many booked with the same artists, and come along with a huge price tag, a unique experience is what attendees are looking for these days when choosing between those three-day festivals; Electric Forest is four days, and wow, what a difference a day can make when you are camping and going to sleep when the sun is coming up. Electric Forest’s unique approach to focusing on the experience as much as the music, and the festival’s commitment to building community are the core reasons Electric Forest is so special. EF continues to offer the most unique experience of any festival out there, and a festival that I can see myself coming back to year after year.
Electric Forest reminded me that this world has so much beauty and is full of incredible people. This was my first “Forest” and over all, I had the time of my life. The most unexpected part of it all was the spiritual journey and being able to reflect on what life is all about.
Sherwood Forest is a place of serenity and magic, where the grandest of dreams come alive; something I didn't know could exist. The forest itself was so intricate and I fell in love with it more and more each day. The trees were beautifully illuminated, there were many interactive art installations (shout out to BL Visuals, a company that transforms clothing, skin, hats, shoes, and endless other objects and articles into works of psychedelic Black Light art), awesome clothing vendors, hidden stages, giant glowing Jelly fish, dance competitions, crazy hat night and yoga every day at noon– plus so much more. Psychedelic Friendship Bingo: the strangest game I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t know how to explain it because I never really learned how to play. It was a mind fuck: a game with cards and people pretending to play to see how many people would play along is all I got from it. The forest truly has something for everyone.
My weekend in Rothbury exceeded every single expectation I had and then some. The music was amazing, but it was truly was the people, the community, that made the festival for me. The crowd was made up of the most optimistic individuals I've ever encountered. There were no bad vibes, no fighting. The only thing I did see was an overdose of love. People hugged you because they wanted to, high-fived you because they wanted to, and threw a smile your way just because they were happy. Someone passed out Pokemon cards to everyone to see how far they would go. Someone else passed out Starbursts on Saturday, and Capri Suns on the last day of the festival. The love and bonding were both so unreal and otherworldly, I don't have the words for it. So here is a list of the things that we should be doing to better the dance music scene, and things I learned that will hopefully make someone’s next festival a better experience.
1. Lead by example. If you've been to your share of festies, help educate the younger crowd, the kids that are "ruining the scene" to save what is left of this culture we all once fell in love with. Veterans should be GUIDING the young people coming into the scene, not chastising.
2. Don’t shove, push, or fight. Ever. There was none of this nonsense at Electric Forest and it made such a difference in the atmosphere compared to every other festival I've been to. Electric Zoo is coming up and I hope people take the extra step to make sure everyone has a great time.
3. A note to members of the press: let’s highlight the positives, not just the negatives. But be honesty subjective in your reviews. Stop talking about how the set was "epic" and the "massive drops" - if you are going to write that, just stop all together.
4. Personally, I learned so much about people as a whole, myself, friends, family, love, respect, and what unity really means.
5. Sometimes it takes getting really lost to find all the right answers.
6. Occupying the hands and eyes can soothe a spiraling mind.
7. You might not know where you are wandering, but as long as you believe, anything is possible.
8. Buy a hammock. It will change your life.
9. Everything is going to be okay.
10. If you are going to live like a hippie, then act like one. Leave no trace. Pick up your trash.
11. The only drug you should consume is the music. However, drugs plus music (not just dance music) are inevitable. Be careful. If you see someone that looks like they need a little help, lend a hand. Don’t stand there and laugh. Tell them there's nothing to be afraid of and everything is going to be alright. Don’t give them anything but the treatment you would want. Either help them or get them help: offer them water, get them to a safe place - out of the noise, light, and away from the cops.
12. Bring test kits to festivals - even test things for strangers.
13. Be as kind as possible, be kind for no reason at all, and watch things change. Love and positivity are contagious.
14. There are always going to be bad apples, just make sure you aren’t one of them.
15. Carry sunblock, unless you love tan lines and burning, peeling skin.
16. Why do you have your cell phone out? Put your phones away - they are going to die anyway. Leave your phone in the car and go lose yourself in the music and in love.
17. Record videos if you like, but know that there is always an after movie. Wouldn’t you rather just put your phone away and dance?
18. Don’t judge people by their taste in music. Further more, don’t label any type of music and its fans.
19. Don’t let personal taste get in the way of having fun with your friends.
20. We all start as strangers…think about how lucky you are to have met certain people and the impact they have had on your life…and the impact you’ve had on theirs.
21. Pay it forward.
22. Don’t steal from people. Don’t be that person that ruins someone else’s whole festival experience.
23. Better yet, keep all your important personal items in a locked car. Just bring the amount of money etc. you need for the day and put it in a safe place.
24. We all get a little too carefree sometimes but all you can do is learn from your mistakes.
25. At a camping festival like this one, sometimes you have to make sacrifices so that you can have a better time. The great outdoors can do a number on the body. The nice thing about the Forest is that it was more laid-back than say EDC or Electric Zoo, where once you were in, you were stuck in a fast-paced atmosphere. You could come in and see an artist, maybe hang your hammock near the stage and chill out for the day or leave and come back later.
26. Take a minute to sit and stare at the sky without checking for a text. Listen to the birds without multi-tasking in our heads. Relax and enjoy life. Do this for five minutes every day.
27. Skip someone you’ve seen before and discover music you’ve never heard. Lauryn Hill sang with with The String Cheese Incident (a band that I fell in love with) Saturday night. String Cheese released confetti shaped like butterflies, in addition to fireworks, balloons, a flying saucer, smoke and fireballs – it was an act that was hard to beat.
28. Golf Clap: Google them, add them to your soundcloud, spotify, whatever - just do it.
29. You don't have to wear a tutu and a sparkly bra, know you have options. There was someone wearing a “PLURsace” T-shirt...someone dressed up like a yeti....I saw all the Power Rangers and some people dressed normally. Overall, there was a great mix of ravers and hippie jam-band kids and again, the crowd that the festival attracts contributed to having the time of my life.
30. Be thankful for hot showers, running water, and real toilets. We take these things for granted but there are many, many countries that consider this a luxury.
-EF originally catered more to the jam-band crowd. Rothbury's roots remain very much still intact, consequently, the festival has quickly added some of the best acts in bass music to its diverse lineup. The line-up this year was perfect, with the exception of the absence Pretty Lights, whose music embodies everything the festival stands for, and the legendary Bassnectar.
-The Glitch Mob threw down to the ground. They were badass, definitely an overall favorite set of the weekend.
-Zeds Dead brought us to another planet. Phenomenal! Best set for the bass heads
-Zedd threw "Destroy them with lasers" in his set anddd it was awesome.
-I was disappointed by Steve Angello, maybe it was just me.
-Destructo reminded us why he's such a legend. His set was a mixture between funk and huge bass, probably my favorite electronic set of the weekend. Our interview with Gary Richards will be up soon!
-Zoogma, went to experience new tunes, stayed because my face melted.
-Seven Lions…enough said.
-Excision went innnn. Crowd favs included Slum Village’s Fall in Love (Moody Good remix), and Headbanger.
-Dixon’s Violin: that man will clear your heart with his beautiful instrument.
-Andy C was wild – the lights moved rhythmically with the drums. Interview coming soon!
-Although I missed it, the jamtronica band Papadosio was said to be one of the best of the weekend.
-Moby has been rocking crowds longer than most of you have been alive. His set was insane for a DJ set, but what else is new?
And there were so many other sets that I’ll never forget. Thank you Electric Forest, until next year :)