According to organizers, some 45,000 people converged in Michigan this past weekend for the jam-bands-meets-ravers annual festival known as Electric Forest. The weather was perfect and the denizens were impossibly friendly. But the logistics and other quirks sometimes wrecked the vibe.
Big festivals are often a logistical clusterfuck, but making one’s way into Electric Forest this year involved more hurdles than usual. First of all, local cops and state troopers were profiling seemingly anyone headed in. One once attendees arrived, the camping situation was a nightmare. Folks like myself who arrived at the south entrance on Thursday afternoon were told it was closed, and that they should get back on the freeway and go to the North entrance. There, we waited in line for three hours, only to be directed back to the g-d south entrance. Finally, we were dumped into “overflow” camping, where the promised access to water never materialized.
Everyone knows that kids take lots of drugs at these festivals, and usually don’t know what they’re taking. The organization known as DanceSafe does their best to help kids test their drugs. Unfortunately, as we wrote over the weekend, Electric Forest basically neutered them.
Fortunately, we had our own drug testing kit. When a dodgy looking dude came through our campground offering quarters of shrooms for $60, we asked if we could test it. He muttered something about feeling “spooked” and got the heck out of there.
We know that Pasquale Rotella of rave conglomerate Insomniac (which co-produces the festival) wants attendees to discover new music at his events, not just to go see acts they already know. And we get that. But still, it’s nice to know the name of the DJs or bands you stumble onto. At Electric
One attendee tried to bring in a spray bottle filled with water, but the security guard said he couldn’t, because a different security guard had just been sprayed in the face with liquid LSD. If it sounds like an urban legend, it surely is. “This is not true,” festival publicist Carrie Lombardi says over email. “It probably happened at a Dead show in the '60s. These days this myth goes around at every festival.” Ha!
Native American headdresses
People are still wearing these.
Security always gets flack from festivalgoers, because everyone wants to go where they want to go, right now! But the Electric Forest venue staff, Michigan state police and horse-bound cops did a bang-up job. Controlling crowds, especially when many of them are stumbling, is no joke, but they made it look easy.
The String Cheese Incident
JPod the Beat Chef
We were a bit skeptical when we saw this British Columbia, Canada DJ was shirtless and decked out in a cape during his Friday performance at The Hangar. But he totally brought it, with his dancehall jams, Al Green remixes, and other high energy tracks. Super powers? He just may have them.
A Michigan company called
The Australian superstar DJ Flume kicked the festival into gear on Thursday night. In his pretty accent, he told us all what great people we were, and then blew our gourds with
We've heard of candy flipping, but while we were in line one night we heard a pair of grizzled dudes arguing about what constituted "Jedi flipping." Molly and
The Jerk Church Tabernacle Choir
This San Francisco-based collective do old-timey Americana, along with the occasional Flogging Molly cover. They’re still waiting for their big
Electric Forest by day
Yes, the Sherwood Forest lit up at night by psychedelic colors gets all the press, but the venue is a joy to behold during daylight hours. Whether you’re laying in a hammock enjoying a breeze or peeping the art installations, it’s relaxing but never boring. Throw in the fact that the festival is held during some of the longest days of the year – the sun doesn’t set until well past 9 p.m. – and you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine.
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