With a lineup leaning heavy into house and trance music, Local Spins’ Looking for the Perfect Beat columnist Todd Ernst previews some of this weekend’s likely gems. Plus, view daily schedules and videos.
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While West Michigan’s Electric Forest has long embraced a diverse lineup of electronic music artists, 2023 feels like the year where it has gone all-in with the four-on-the-floor sounds of established and rising house music artists, along with a pair of trance artists to anchor the festival in an anthemic way.
Granted, top-of-mind acts Channel Tres, Gorgon City, Illenium, Chris Lake and Sofi Tukker will attract throngs of followers and smash sets, but here are five artists worthy of attention for festivalgoers trying to find their way through this four-day Rothbury extravaganza that will attract upwards of 50,000 revelers this weekend (June 22-25).
Above & Beyond (11:30 p.m. Sunday, Ranch Arena) – In its 23rd year as one of the most iconic electronic music brands on the planet, the Above & Beyond trance trio features Jono Grant, Paavo Siljamäki and Tony McGuinness – some of the hardest working DJs and producers in the industry, as evidenced by their weekly radio show, “Group Therapy,” the iconic record label Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep, and the European group’s heavy touring schedule. No question, the spirit of the forest will come alive during their Ranch Arena closing set on Sunday night. In the history of the festival, I’m not sure I can think of a more fitting artist to take it all home with their brand of uplifting vocal anthems. Expect plenty of hugs and tears; this set will get emotional.
Social Media/Soundcloud: instagram.com/aboveandbeyond; soundcloud.com/aboveandbeyond
BLOND:ISH (1 a.m. Friday night, The Observatory Stage) – Canadian producer Vivie-Ann Bakos represents a perfect booking for Electric Forest’s holistic ethos, as she is a well-established energy worker and spiritual maven herself. Interestingly (and likely not her focus for this event), she helms an organization called Bye Bye Plastic which is committed to eliminating plastic waste at festivals. While her sound is a little hard to pin down, it fits in this unique space between house and techno with some pop sensibilities; and her latest track, “Call My Name,” is a proper hands-in-the air disco banger.
Social Media/Soundcloud: instagram.com/blondish; soundcloud.com/blondish
Chris Lorenzo (12:30 a.m. Saturday, Tripolee Stage) – UK’s Bass House artist Chris Lorenzo had a massive 2022, with appearances at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and a main-stage slot at Electric Daisy Carnival. Bolstered by his smash hit, “California Dreamin’ ” that hit No. 1 on Beatport and received over 100 million streams on Spotify, he also had notable collaborations with Chris Lake and his massive party anthem championed by darn near every DJ in the world called “MAMI.” Lorenzo will find a very energetic and welcoming fan base at Tripolee late Saturday evening.
Social Media/Soundcloud: instagram.com/chrislorenzo66; soundcloud.com/chris-lorenzo-1
Cosmic Gate (10 p.m. Thursday, The Observatory Stage) – The Grammy-nominated German duo is as real deal as it gets, with Nic Chagall and Bossi creating a matchless musical union now nearing its 25th year as a DJ and production act. Their musical acumen is almost unprecedented as evidenced by Cosmic Gate remixes of countless progressive and trance artists in the record bin. Expect high energy on opening night, with a fist-pumping swagger matched only at metal shows during this set.
Social Media/Soundcloud: instagram.com/realcosmicgate; soundcloud.com/cosmicgateofficial
Disco Lines (Midnight Friday, Carousel Club) – Known to the DMV in Colorado as Thadeus Labuszewski, it’s not hard to imagine part of the artistic inspiration of Disco Lines was in many ways inspired by the ability to more easily spell his name. In all seriousness, the Boulder-based artist has racked up over 100 million listens with his genre-bending blend of bass house, including “Baby Girl,” “Love Story,” and “Techno & Tequila.” If you’re a fan of Dom Dolla and John Summit, then this is your move, with the Carousel Club the perfect stage for this fast-rising artist.
Social Media/Soundcloud: instagram.com/discolines; soundcloud.com/discolines
SOME ELECTRIC FOREST PRO USER TIPS
For those of new to the Forest, every experienced attendee will tell you it’s fairly overwhelming, and there’s simply no way you can do it all. Download the Electric Forest app, pick your artists and set a schedule if for no other reason you have a target to aim for.
Reiterating a recommendation made to me years ago: Enter early on the first day, spend a few hours to take a proper lap and get your bearings as to how the crowd flows and where stages are located.
Cellphone service is unreliable at best, so it’s not a bad idea to come up with a plan and location to meet if you get separated from your friends. That said, I have read that Verizon dropped a new tower in the middle of the festival grounds, so with any luck, this may improve service
When you notice the Michigan State Police, give these folks a proper fist bump or thank you. Electric Forest is MSP’s most requested overtime event, and they genuinely enjoy the festival themselves. While they are on site in an official capacity, they’re some of the best event concierge types I have experienced in my 30-plus years of attending and producing events.
ELECTRIC FOREST 2023: THE PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
Save these images on your smartphone to take with you to the festival
VIDEOS: Above & Beyond, Blond:ish, Chris Lorenzo, Cosmic Gate, Disco Lines
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Todd Ernst has been an electronic music DJ and promoter for 30+ years and is half of the DJ duo DiscoBrunch. While his days are spent as the owner of an indie real estate brokerage, he also owns EXSIGN which is a creative concept that designs and manages corporate, non-profit and nightlife events. Todd is also one of the founding team members for TEDxGrandRapids.
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