The producer of the popular Michigan music festival took to Reddit this week to address everything from the 2020 lineup of performers to long lines. Here are some of his responses.
The 10-year anniversary of the Electric Forest experience (which comes 13 years after the first Rothbury Music Festival) marks the perfect time to look back at the past decade … and look ahead to what’s on the horizon.
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So, Electric Forest producer Jeremy Stein, president of the Colorado-based Madison House Presents, took to Reddit earlier this week to answer questions from longtime festival-goers and others about the 2020 event at Double JJ Resort in Rothbury, Michigan, and the future of this spectacle in the woods.
The rare exchange between audience and presenter provided some intriguing insights into common concerns about the sold-out Michigan festival – the performer lineup, the festival’s ‘loyalty program’ and how newbies have difficulty getting tickets, mobility issues – as well as skirting some questions without resolution.
Here are Stein’s responses on some of these topics from the Reddit exchange, posted on Thursday. Electric Forest: Decade One takes place in Rothbury June 25-28 with more than 45,000 expected to attend.
• Questions and complaints about the 2020 Lineup – “I think we can all agree that almost no complete festival lineup of this size perfectly fits everyone’s tastes, and that is not even the intention. Every year, lineup comments related to EF (or pretty much every large festival) range from love to hate, from ‘This festival is going in the wrong direction’ to ‘This is my favorite lineup ever.’ I think the Forest Family can be different. Our goal is to dig deeper. Our goal is to find new edges across all genres. Our goal is to introduce music we may never have found on our own. It seems this type of approach will always create controversy, yet doing the expected bores the hell out of me.
“There are questions about genres. Comments include everything from ’Why aren’t there more jam bands’ to ‘I need more house’ to ‘Where is the bluegrass’ and beyond. It’s true. Not every year has as much of every genre as the year before it. This doesn’t mean Electric Forest is going in one direction or another over the long term. It just means that’s the lineup for this year.
“Still, there are times when I’m perplexed by some of these comments. I love tons of different music, jam bands included. I mean, I manage String Cheese and have for 20-plus years! Some jam band fans say there isn’t enough this year. Yet, I look at the lineup and see a strong list of artists who are jam bands or close friends of that scene: String Cheese, Cycles, The Disco Biscuits, Eminence Ensemble, EOTO, Everyone Orchestra, Goose, Keller Williams, Lotus, or even The California Honeydrops, Femi Kuti & the Positive Force, Funk You, The Main Squeeze, Marco Benevento, The Nth Power, Sunsquabi, Travers Brothership and Turkuaz. That list alone is the makeup of a really great ‘jam-band festival,’ The point here? Perspective shapes a lot of these comments. Year over year, some genres are not well represented. I get that. It’s not perfect.
“Producing a formulaic lineup is not the goal. Evolution, experimentation and discovery are the goal. Let’s ride the edge together, learn together every year, and keep the discussion going.”
• Revamping the ‘Loyalty Program’ and securing tickets for newcomers who don’t have a ‘loyalty code’ – “I love our loyal Forest Family, and am in awe of those who have been as many times as I have. Let’s talk loyalty. The program that worked years ago simply was not designed for the extreme enthusiasm that has come to life over the past few years. 2021 will see changes. As you may suspect, it’s a great challenge when there are far more loyalty members as a whole than there is capacity on site in any given year. This is a daily discussion, and we are looking forward to new solutions to make this smooth and fair for everyone. It’s time to evolve and I’m excited to see what we come up with. … As Electric Forest has grown over the years, there are more veterans looking to return than ever before. This obviously creates less room for newcomers. So, this subject has become very tricky. Of course, we always want to be inviting to those who want their first EF experience, and we are looking at creative options to ensure the door always stays open.”
• Changes to camping layout – “We are always tweaking, adjusting and moving things to improve the flow of the campgrounds. This year is no exception.”
• Long lines getting in and out – “Without a doubt, this issue is a very high priority for 2020. Personally, I love waiting in long lines, and was surprised that so many people felt differently, so it is on my Top 10 list of things to focus on for 2020. … One factor for entrances to events worldwide is the evolution of security systems intended to give us all the highest level of safety possible. Security, law enforcement, and various official agencies across the board are in endless discussions about constantly finding ways to upgrade and advance efficient entrance systems. … I highly doubt the line experienced last year on Thursday will repeat in 2020. With that said, we will always choose safety first and if we perceive an issue like long lines, it’s on us to do a better job of communicating it in the moment.
“(As for complaints about long lines leaving EF in 2019), there is definitely a robust traffic staff in place. The reality is that it takes almost three days for the site to fill, and nearly everyone wants to then leave in the same four-hour period on Monday morning. This is on our list of Top 10 things to address. Most of all we want to be able to better communicate exit times and traffic information to ensure a better flow for everyone.”
• Insuring ADA has plenty of golf carts to help ease long transportation wait times for those needing mobility assistance – “Thanks for bringing this up, and I’d like to look into it. Send an email with details … so we can dig in.”
• Prospects of cannabis vendors at Electric Forest with Michigan’s legalization of marijuana – “Our offices are in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis and many of these type of questions have been asked here first. The laws are changing incredibly fast, and are hard to keep up with on a state-to-state basis. Michigan is new at this, and we are awaiting many answers to these types of questions as well. There is also the big picture issue of discrepancy between federal and state laws. Honestly, we are currently in an environment with a lot of grey area and I think it’s going to take some time to shake out.”
• Different stage designs and other changes for 2020 – “As always, expect some exciting new things, but if I talked about it now, it would ruin the surprise!”
Read more responses and festivalgoer comments online at Reddit here.
Check out more Local Spins coverage of Electric Forest online here.
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