After a sold-out Weekend 1 with 40,000 attendees, crowds at Weekend 2 of Electric Forest proved to be considerably thinner but every bit as enthusiastic with a host of memorable musical highlights.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For 2017, Electric Forest expanded to two weekends for the first time. While Weekend 1 was a sellout with some 40,000 festivalgoers (see Local Spins coverage here), numbers were down considerably during Weekend 2. Still, the atmosphere remained, well, electric, with colorfully bedecked Foresters cheering their favorite bands on several stages, wrapping up late Sunday. From T-shirts like “I’m definitely on drugs” to inflatable Rubik’s Cubes bandied about during evening sets (which also included fireworks and confetti cannons) Weekend 2 was quite the spectacle, too. Read Local Spins writer Ricky Olmos’ account and browse the photo gallery.
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Outside the gates of Electric Forest, nearly a mile deep into the village of RVs and tents, the after-effects of a night spent in the forest begin to show.
Weary revelers stagger back to camp against the mid-morning sun along a muddy road. A few seem to have only made it part way, and have instead chosen (or landed on) a tuft of grass adjacent a row of porta potties.
Tents ruffle in the wind and the faint thump of bass can be heard in the distance. A few car doors are propped wide open, and the legs of slumbering couples dangling out. Then there are those who’s partying is not confined by the sun’s placement in the sky. They stand atop campers draped in festival gear, nodding their heads and waving their hands along to a beat.
Gabrielle Sjoberg and Air Benedict, a couple from Los Angeles, were among the few heading into the festival before noon.
“For me, I knew about this festival and the light setup and the forest from friends and seeing pictures. We’ve been to Bonnaroo and Coachella but I love being in the woods, so I wanted to come check this out,” said Sjoberg.
“I’m super happy we came. When you get into the forest there’s so much setup with all the sculptures and lights. It’s an amazing reveal when you see all the lights.”
Benedict said that one of his favorite performances was Black Tiger Sex Machine. “They were so good. They played as the sun was going down and everyone was just fueling into the set.”
The pair said they plan to return next year and hopefully convince a few of their friends to join. “We were just saying yesterday that we gotta get our friends out here now that we’ve seen it,” Sjoberg said.
DETROIT’S FLINT EASTWOOD HELPS GET THE PARTY STARTED
Though Saturday morning was a scene of rest and recovery, Friday night proved to be the exact opposite. Guests flooded in through the entrance and onto the sprawling festival playground, carefree and blissful.
Festival-goers became well acquainted with Flint Eastwood on day two of the two-weekend festival.
Ten minutes before the Detroit trio took the stage however, the vast field at Sherwood Court lay barren – at least compared to more prime-time slots. Onlookers were scattered across the field, spread out on blankets and strung up in hammocks near the treeline. But as the music started and frontwoman Jax Anderson shouted orders over the microphone, listeners gravitated towards the stage and a small crowd started to form.
The band gave a riveting performance in the afternoon sun, rocking out to songs from their EP “Small Victories,” like “Glitches” and “Find What You’re Looking For.”
Anderson commanded the stage, engaging with the crowd in her usual authoritative banter and busting dance moves with no small amount of swagger – resulting in a contagious dancing spell among listeners.
As the sun began to disappear behind the towering pines and the festival’s traditional hot-air balloons rose in the sky, the evening’s festivities ensued.
Big name EDM and DJ acts like Crywolf, Valentino Khan, A-Track and Flume performed pulsing sets on the main stages, drawing hundreds.
BIG GIGANTIC A FAVORITE OF FESTIVALGOERS
“It is amazing. I’m still in awe that I’m here,” said 16-year-old Dlani Finnson as her and her friends sat in the grass waiting for Flume to begin his set. “The people are all nice. Everyone is just themselves.”
The group of teens from Muskegon named Big Gigantic as one of their favorite sets and the faux chapel in the forest as their favorite attraction.
Holli Younts, 17, added that “sometimes you go to festivals or concerts and people are just jerks. Everyone here is really nice. They’re like family,” she said.
After an elaborate stage setup, Flume played an onslaught of skull-rattling house music for one of the evening’s largest crowds.
Meanwhile, off the beaten path on auxiliary stages like The Observatory and Grand Artique, passionate, high-energy sets were churned out one after another.
Ohio-based Tropidelic blasted its funk/hip hop fusion through Sherwood Forest at The Observatory as a grooving crowd danced wildly along. Soaring horn solos punched bright holes in the numerous jam sessions. The capable frontman duo displayed their rhythmic chops by riffling off rapped verses with mind-blowing cadence and accuracy.
FROM GARAGE ROCK TO JAM BANDS TO ‘THE GREAT AMERICAN SHOW’
A similar scene unfolded at The Grand Artique: inside the enclosed wooden fortress – complete with an operational trading post – a small crowd vibed to the likes of Vokab Company.
At The Hangar, The London Souls took flight with their garage-rock and dirty blues texture inside the festivals’ newest stage.
Back through the forest and around the corner, Electric Forest’s house band, The String Cheese Incident, hit its stride during a usual marathon set for a capacity crowd at Ranch Arena amid dazzling lights.
Between sunset and sunrise the forest comes alive, and its namesake proves incredibly accurate. Looming sculptures shrouded in colorful lights drew captivated admirers who stood enamores for minutes. Under a canopy of lights, countless activities, amusements, and festivities kept forest frolickers more than entertained.
As one of the evening’s final performances, W.C. Thornbush & the Great American Show created a spectacle that fell somewhere along the lines of Americana, folk, and gypsy, mixed with theater and comedy. The outlandish troupe displayed their collective musical genius, as well as their unadulterated, unabashed and slightly intoxicated showmanship.
The troupe carried on for what seemed like an endless set. That is until festival staff shut off the sound and turned out the lights. But leaning over the edge of the stage and tipping his hat up, Thornbush called everyone to huddle gather close. In a most sincere manner, the performer paused his comedic demeanor and thanked the audience for listening.
He then turned his eyes upward, toward the rainbow of lights dancing among the trees and gave a most gracious homage to the festival and its dedication to artists and listeners year after year.
PHOTO GALLERY: Electric Forest 2017 Weekend Two
Photos by Meg Ryan of Hatchery 17, Anna Sink, Ricky Olmos
VIDEO: Saturday Night at Electric Forest (7/1/17)
Video by Anna Sink
VIDEO: Electric Forest 2017, Day 1
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC