The resurrection of Sherwood Forest has been met by fleeting applause. Each Independence Day weekend Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan played host the annual Electric Forest Music Festival. Following last years unprecedented success, EF round three was deemed by many to be the strongest festival of the season.
When attending a large-scale fest with high-profile acts, the camping and live music it completely expected, yet one vital component of EF that sets it apart from other fests is it’s unrivaled ability to implement various kinds of art forms into the festival environment. By directing themselves to a mostly-younger crowd and encouraging bright minds to participate as part of the festival rather than be spectators has bode well for EF. Serving as more than a mere gimmick or aesthetic pleasure these interactive art displays improve the festival atmosphere exponentially. Every trip through the Electric Forest beholds an all-new experience for everyone, invoking a spirit unseen at other mainstream festivals.
In Rothbury Music Festival’s three-year stint it has become widely recognized as top-notch in many aspects. With success such as this it’s no surprise that EF has made such a roaring comeback whilst appearing from the ashes of a giant. The most astounding feature represented is the communal nature this festival radiates to all of those willing to accept it. Without a doubt the festival’s populace openly creates an eclectic spirit to ensure positive vibrations. By acknowledging each individuals own capacity for art production as well as boasting a diverse, well-designed lineup makes EF quite visionary in their own respect. It’s a mixture that has allowed EF to flourish at a time when many other its’ peers have seen their attendance peak or decline due to an over-abundance of micro-festivals in their area who cater to specific genres and fans of similar sounding artists. Despite the drawbacks, EF continues to thrive as a result of an unlikely combination of companies between the jam-band based Madison House Productions and the solely electronic Insomniac Productions. With a strong core of reoccurring headliners in addition to a plethora of up and coming groups, all of whom would easily be headliners at most other festis. Electric Forest will quickly become the must-attend festival of everyone’s summer.
EF has definitely retained and reinvented the sense of unity as Rothbury, insisting hat mainstream festivals can be so much more for people than a huge party. Rather an artistic playground for socially-restricted young adults to communicate their innovative ideas and art-works through any means fathomable. Since the festival’s hiatus in 2010 it has made much headway in spreading this mission via attracting younger, mostly urban and suburban crowds. The resurgence causes these less-experienced festival-goers to be enlightened by a more meaningful feeling of community and ultimately, alternative ways to live outside the festival’s boundaries. By striving to maintain this strong link, EF has become the premier Midwest fest with a clearly defined culture that will surely keep them ahead of the game.
Flaunting their depth and diversity within EDM styling has made EF a force o be reckoned with. It’s amazing to think that within just a few years it has become the electronic-fusion juggernaut, booking all kinds of fresh acts, breathing life into a deflated giant. A success thanks in part to the lack of competition in the area during a holiday weekend in conjunction with the uniqueness of Sherwood Forest is a powerful combination. EF beseeches their crowd to join life-sized collage through personal expression with exquisite arrangements, displays and live performance ranging from flow art to tantric dances. The shock and awe from these types of stimuli inhibit a euphoric and contagious feeling within to be expressive as well, caring not for what the viewers may think. For those young ragers out there looking for an experience stretching beyond the norm and willing to join the madness of it all, EF is right for you.
- Adam Epstein
Photography by Duncan Ross