Festival junkies take heed: if you’re in need of a healthy dose of bass, have an insatiable urge to rage, and are looking for an inexplicable good time- Electric Forest is a must see. The festival celebrated its 4th running this past weekend starting on Thursday June 26th and ending on Sunday night, June 29th. Returning once again to the grounds of the lovely and beautiful Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury Michigan, the 2014 installment proved to be a powerhouse of rambunctious shenanigans, great music, psychedelic light shows, and improve – tomfoolery that no one will be forgetting anytime soon.
Thursday – June 26th
Thursday marked the first night of the festival. EOTO fed the crowd a healthy portion of crunchy beats and fatty bass. The sound cut out twice, but drummer Jason Hann was unphazed, performing a powerful acoustic drum solo without any amplified sound, ending just as the PA came back on to say “Yeah… to sexy for this PA”.
Later that night Umphrey’s McGee slayed the stage with their unrelenting lightshow and mind-bending improvisation. At certain points, their set sounded more like an Iron Maiden concert than a progressive rock show. During their second set, the group performed a stellar mash-up which combined MGMT’s “Kids” , Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” , Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Know Your Enemy”. The crowd was in awe; some cheered with delight, while others stood there stunned and trying to figure out where they were. Later, Brendan Bayliss informed the crowd that, drummer Kris Myers was, “rocking out so hard” that he had broken a tooth…
Indy homeboys Cosby Sweater performed an insanely groovy set during the Umphrey’s intermission, creating an Umphrey’s Sweater Sandwich. The crowd was unsure at first, but was up and dancing to the funky trio in no time. The trio grooved out hard, debuting their new remix of Escort’s “Cocaine Blues”. Umphrey’s keyboardist Joel Cummins even came out and threw down on a jam.
Friday – June 27th -
Friday brought the festival in to full bloom. Ms. Lauryn Hill’s set started a bit later than expected, but the former Fugee delivered a performance like none other. Belting out songs with such swagger and confidence, one couldn’t help but think “Damn, she’s foxy.” The soulful performer delivered a tasty mix of originals, Fugee hits, and Bob Marley classics.
The String Cheese Incident set the tone for the evening upon commencing the first of their six scheduled sets for the weekend. Starting off right out the gates with powerful, groovy “Colliding”, the crowd was overcome with an insatiable urge to dance. Afterwards on a nearby stage, STS9 performed a super- spatial set that transported the audience into a dream world. The vibrant hues of the light show, cover of nighttime, and the chill vibes of the glowstick-covered crowd was the definition of bliss.
Closing the night strong, Umphrey’s McGee once again slayed the stage like no one’s business. The group ended a bit early but the crowd insisted on an encore. The band emerged to perform a three song encore which included a rendition of Pink Floyd’s hit “Time”.
Saturday – June 28th -
Saturday was HOT, in every sense of the word. The crowd seemed a bit mopey and sleepy from partying all night, but were soon up and working off their hangovers through Xavier Rudd‘s ancient ritual of dance. He impressively played a 12 string guitar while simultaneously playing didgeridoo, making guitar-and-harmonica seem like child’s play.
Saturday also saw a performance by a member of the Marley family, with Stephen “Regga” Marley featuring Ghetto Youths Crew. Stephen Marley saturated the crowd with classic Bob Marley hits, as well as a handful of originals, leaving nothing but positive vibes and smiles in his wake.
Later that night The String Cheese Incident performed a set which people are unsure really happened. During a rendition of the piece “Valley of the Jigg” the crowd became a part of an elaborate video game-infused rave party of sorts- complete with Mario-themed stage videos, Princess Peach rope dancers, giant inflatable question mark blocks, Pac Man ghosts, inflatable balls, fireworks, confetti, lasers and more. Anyone in the vicinity had their minds subsequently blown.
Upon leaving Electric Forest one cannot help but be overcome with the festival blues as they realize they must once again integrate with formal society. But never fear; Electric Forest will be back next year, only with new and improved tricks up their sleeves. So in the meantime, if you’re still in need of a healthy dose of bass, continue to have an insatiable urge to rage, and is looking for an unexplainable good time, mark your calendars for next year.