Local Spins’ seventh most popular story of the year was a recap of Rothbury’s resplendent four-day festival in words and dazzling photos. Revisit the action from Electric Forest ’23.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Top 20 stories of the year countdown continue with No. 7 — a look back at June’s Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury.
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After enduring three days of dusty and dry conditions, even a passing thunderstorm couldn’t thwart festivalgoers from lining up at Electric Forest on its final evening to revel in a final salvo of electronic music wizardry courtesy of England’s Above & Beyond, Canada’s DJ Rezz and other performers who lit up stages into the wee morning hours.
The 2023 edition of June’s four-day, internationally renowned festival staged amid mostly sunny and hot weather at Double JJ Resort in Rothbury wrapped up early Monday morning, sending weary campers home amid rainy conditions that have been a rarity in Michigan this season — rain that also briefly forced evacuation of the festival grounds on Sunday afternoon.
Rain and dust aside, the weekend also featured a wedding smack dab in the midst of festival hoopla, various marriage proposals, surprisingly compelling performances on side stages and all manner of diversions, from scavenger hunts to intriguing vendors.
Overall, Michigan State Police at the Hart Post reported “nothing of significance” in terms of festival incidents as of Monday, though a full report on arrests and other event-related issues had not been completed.
Local Spins columnist Todd Ernst offers up his recap from the 2023 festival, with several photo galleries below.
Check out first-day coverage of Electric Forest, with more photo galleries here: https://localspins.com/electric-forest-shines-on-opening-day-with-upbeat-vibe-local-spins/
ELECTRIC FOREST 2023 BY TODD ERNST
As the dust settles (quite literally) on Electric Forest 2023, here are some closing thoughts on an amazing celebration of festival-culture music and a gathering of 50K humans.
Sofi Tukker: This was the set the festival needed to launch things properly into the weekend. The Florida duo’s hybrid style of house, downtempo and indie-rock was the perfect backdrop as the sun was setting through the trees over Ranch Arena. Sophie Hawley-Weld’s melodic and upbeat vocals had people singing at the top of their lungs from song one, and to be frank, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed their catalog until experiencing them live.
Cosmic Gate: The last time I saw this German trance duo was many years ago when they literally tore the roof off of the venue, so I was kind of surprised to hear a more melodic, and dare I say, subdued approach during their set at The Observatory. That said, in my Forest lead-up piece I touched on their musical acumen, and they demonstrated their depth by taking Forest attendees on a perfectly timed emotional and melodic journey at the jam-packed venue amid Sherwood Forest.
Yunè Pinku: One of my favorite things about Electric Forest are the things you stumble into — sometimes it is an old friend, others it is a tree stump, but on Saturday night, the artist that captivated me was 19-year-old Yunè Pinku at the Carousel Club. Even after 35 years as a DJ, I still kind of struggle to put into words what I experienced, but her reverb-drenched, almost-angelic vocals left me thinking something along the lines that if BBC legend Pete Tong and vocalist Sinead O’Connor had a kid together, this young lady might very well be the offspring. Seriously, if there is an artist to watch right now, Ms. Pinku is the one.
DJ Diesel (aka Shaquille O’Neill): Everyone seemed to enjoy the novelty aspect of having Shaq in proper DJ mode as evidenced by him engaging with fans, and the Michigan State Police appear to have assigned the code word “tall detail” to describe their assignment with Shaq. Whether it was Diesel incorrectly referencing Electric Forest as Electric Zoo (a NYC-based festival over Labor Day), or calling for a ladies-only mosh pit, the oldest of my lessons as a DJ played its hand in that full dance floors don’t lie.
Bob Moses, Chris Lorenzo, Chris Lake: On Saturday night at the Tripolee Stage, the back-to-back sets of Bob Moses, leading into Chris Lorenzo, then into Chris Lake was one of the most intense programing environments Electric Forest attendees experienced all weekend. If I didn’t know any better, the three aforementioned artists sat down to discuss flow and selection, as it seemed more like a collaborated three-hour set than separate sets by three different artists.
All told, people are now taking the struggle bus home. While Sunday’s rain may have helped mitigate the dust-bowl vibe, the relative drought during the month of June in West Michigan certainly made for extremely dry, dusty conditions for most of the weekend and attendees were feeling it come Sunday.
That said, the Electric Forest booking team — Insomniac and Madison House — never fails in its programming, and while there was no shortage of people scrambling to catch their favorite act due to the abundance of amazing choices, it was a good problem to have along the Michigan lakeshore.
PHOTO GALLERY: Faces of the Forest Family 2023 by Anna Sink
PHOTO GALLERY: Electric Forest – Days 2, 3 and 4 by Eric Stoike
PHOTO GALLERY: Electric Forest – Days 2, 3 and 4 by Derek Ketchum