Though Bassnectar, Kaskade and Big Gigantic also headlined this year, String Cheese Incident was the true main event, playing the final three nights of the festival, with sets that were scheduled to run from three and a half hours to over four. The co-producers of the festival, Madison House Presents, are the Colorado-based jam band’s management team, and String Cheese is the “original muse” of the event, in the words of festival PR.
While on the surface jam bands and EDM sounds like a culture clash waiting to happen –
Everyone gets along fine at the Rothbury, Michigan festival; people arrive from all over for what they consider a great aesthetic convergence. “EDM and jam bands both draw the same type of people, who want to go all night and follow their favorite acts all over,” says Jacob Efimoff, a festivalgoer from Laguna Niguel.
Not to mention that they share a general message: Be positive! You’re awesome! Let your consciousness go!
I’ll have to admit, though, I was skeptical. This was my first Electric Forest, and reading up on it in advance I saw that many of its acts split the difference between jam music and EDM. In fact, they seemed to be an unworkable
It’s not that these acts aren’t well known for their dynamic live shows, like, say New Orleans’ Galactic
Really, these acts need better PR. EDM and jam music are often dismissed by the skinny-jeans crowd as music you need to be high to enjoy. But I was (relatively) sober the whole time, and had a blast. Take Vibe Street (“grass-hop / future-folk / electro-blues / space-funk”), whose name alone nearly caused my eyeballs to roll back in my head. But it turns out “grass-hop,” a combination of bluegrass and hip-hop, is not that unusual. At his show on Saturday afternoon, the Denver-based DJ merged hard-edged rap beats with
Such performances — combined with Electric Forest's cool breezes and pine-tree-canopy setting — have made the festival shoot to the top of my list. If for next year they can find a good (“klezmer / tumbler ska / string quartet / narcocorrido / Europop”), then I’ll truly be in cross-genre heaven.