Images by: Brian Spady
& Justin Ciccone
Words by: Jeanne Bettencourt
Electric Forest :: 06.27-30.13 :: Double JJ Ranch and Resort ::
The third consecutive year of Electric Forest may have been its best yet; not only was the
infamous Sherwood Forest
renovated and expanded beyond belief, but the connection felt between those in attendance
was one of the most
powerful displays of human interaction I’ve ever witnessed. Madison House produced an
environment that pulled an
eclectic group of individuals together to form a community living and interacting as one.
The strength of this
connectedness resulted in a beautiful weekend of spirituality and great parties. Not only
was the music and visual art
incredible, but the amount of performance art was unbelievable. I have never seen that
many well-rounded and gifted
spinners together, vibing off the music and each other. It truly was a weekend of sheer
creativity produced by all those
Day One was filled with an enormous amount of energy, and the weather only added to its
intensity. A hot and humid
day was followed by a short amount of rain, rejuvenating us all for the night ahead.
Notable daytime performances
included a heavy and dance worthy set by Suckerpunch at the Ranch Stage and self
proclaimed ‘psychedelic dance rock’
jamtronica band The Werks at the Sherwood Court. The two bands were a nice intro into the
festival with live
instrumental music, but I was equally impressed with Digital Tape Machine (ft. Cummins &
Myers of Umphrey’s McGee)
as they shifted the the mood with a mix of different types of house, drum n’ bass, & hip-
hop. Next up on at the
Sherwood Court was EOTO and their electronic rock inspired by SCI’s Michael Travis and
Jason Hann. After paying
respect to the duet’s impressive entirely improv performance (no pre-recorded loops) we
ventured into the Sherwood
Forest to catch the last of Orchard Lounge’s set at the Forest Stage.
It took quite a while to actually locate the Forest Stage, as it was in a different
location than last year and the forest had
quite a few magnificent additions to the controlled chaos. After basking in awe at the
mini-Chinatown and being
mesmerized by the countless light instillations we finally came across the Forest Stage,
tucked away in a back corner of
the forest, hidden behind lines of trees decorated with hammocks, and Orchard Lounge had
bass radiating throughout
that entire side of the woods. Shortly after, Lotus took the Sherwood Court Stage and
ended out the night with an
excellent mix of high energy songs and touching and spiritual notes, putting forth one of
the best festival performances
I have ever seen them play.
As day two got underway, my group of friends and I wandered around the forest and crash
landed into one of the
craziest performances I’ve ever born witness to by the Fungineers. The group typically
consists of 4 people, 2 dancers,
an MC, and a puppet wearing DJ, but the group was so involved with the festival
(performing 11 times over the course of
the weekend) that they had roughly 20 hired dancers all being just as silly. Describing
the music is difficult to
articulate, and the only words that come to mind is colorful and eccentric!
Break Science never ceases to entertain me and put forth one of my favorite electronic
sets of the weekend at the
Sherwood Court mid-evening. Their vigorous set cranked up the bass and the duet soared
through a mixture of hip
hop and trap step material. My group was fortunate enough to camp right next to the
Tripolee Stage, and enjoyed some
extremely fresh live sound mixing by the California based Polish Ambassador. With an
extremely eclectic range of
styles, he incorporates everything from glitchy EDM to funk and it’s artists like this
that help me appreciate electronica
and help steer the scene in the right direction.
The String Cheese Incident headlines the festival every year and put on their first of six
sets starting just after sunset. I
continue to be impressed with the artistic range and fearlessness of this jamband, and
although their performance the
third night of the festival was the most memorable for me, no set was short of incredible.
These guys go from
psychedelic rock to electronic then slow it down with some twangy bluegrass. They
continue to evolve and embrace all
types of music scenes and music lovers of all types can appreciate the talent that these
musicians put forth. They had a
few guests on stage with them over the course of the weekend, including Dominic Lalli of
Big Gigantic and Greensky
Bluegrass. Also, the Ranch Area’s lights and fireworks display during Cheese’s sets were
gorgeous and set their
performances over the top.
Around midnight I decided to venture into the forest to check out Luke the Knife play at
the Forest Stage. Luke Miller,
the keyboardist, back up guitarist and song writer for Lotus typically has a nu-disco
sound for this side project, but you
could tell he really opened up and allowed the other music at the festival to influence
his style and the music was much
heavier than other performances. It’s always fun to watch an artist break out of their
shell and experiment with
different sounds, and his enthusiasm was contagious.
The third day was my favorite in terms of quality of electronica, but daytime performances
by Moon Hooch (2
saxophonists and a drummer that add house to the mix) and Lettuce were quite enjoyable.
My only complaint about the
festival at all was that all the electronic music at the Tripolee Stage was turned up very
loud but was much quieter
during Moon Hooch’s set. Lettuce put forth an amazing funk experience, and I couldn’t
stop bouncing around the
entire set. Dominic Lalli also guested with the band as well as pianist Nigel Hall, who
completely blew me away with his
intricate and soulful solos.
As the sun went down, the bass went up. Just Blaze kept his crowd moving by staying busy
on the turntable, mixing
hip-hop with dance and trap. Above and Beyond killed it at the Sherwood Court with their
loud and heavy progressive
trance, and Knife Party closed out the stage to an entirely packed lawn. I am very picky
when it comes to dubstep, but
was thoroughly impressed with the English duo. Walking back to our campsite we bumped
into A-Trak keeping the late
night house/hip-hop dance party going at the Tripolee Stage.
The last day of the festival had such a mellow and friendly vibe to it and the artist
placement throughout the day added
such an incredible ambiance to the day it was by far the most memorable of the four. One
of my favorite artists Eliot
Lipp graced the Tripolee Stage with his eclectic style and unmatched craftsmanship at
producing. One of my favorite
moments of the festival was a sound clip he included describing a sunset. Another
highlight of the weekend was
Emancipator ft. violinist Ilya Goldberg, filling our ears and souls with gorgeous melodies
and slow yet movable beats.
Renowned for their ability to incorporate all types of world music and gorgeous dancer Zoe
Jakes, Beats Antique closed
out the Sherwood Court, putting on a great act as usual. Finally, Keys n’ Krates finished
off the festival with a closing
party at the Tripolee Stage, and it was obvious that no one wanted to leave.
I’ve said it already and will continue to until probably next year’s Electric Forest –
this was by far the best festival I have
ever attended. Music, artwork, and performance art alike were all put out by the best of
the best, and the organization
and efficiency of the festival was unbelievable. If you have yet to attend an Electric
Forest, do yourself a favor and get
on top of it next year – the Sherwood Forest pays for the ticket alone!
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