String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, STS9 Rock Electric Forest
The Electric Forest Festival returned to the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, MI for its fourth installment this past weekend. The festival once again featured three nights of The String Cheese Incident, as well as two nights of Umphrey’s McGee and two nights of STS9. Other acts like Anders Osborne, Conspirator, EOTO, Poolside (Live), Stephen Marley, Papadosio, Tycho, Emancipator Ensemble, Flying Lotus and many more also took the stage, while SCI played a very special, cover-filled set with Ms. Lauryn Hill and her band.
The party got started on Thursday evening, as fans streamed into the festival grounds for sets from Cherub, Rising Appalachia and Kaytranada. The night also featured sets from Paper Diamond, Glitch Mob and EOTO before Umphrey’s McGee took over the Sherwood Stage for a two-set show that saw a number of Umphrey’s McGee staples, including the Similar Skin track “Cut The Cable.” The band also delved into “Come As Your Kids”—their mash up of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” MGMT’s “Kids” and Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round”—during the second set. Additionally, the show also featured a half hour Cosby Sweater performance during set break.
Friday featured a stacked lineup for fans of bands that like to jam, as the String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, Conspirator, Papadosio, Zoogma, The Revivalists and Anders Osborne all made appearances on either the Ranch Arena or Sherwood Court stages. Ms. Lauryn Hill threw off the schedule at the Ranch Arena when she showed up an hour late for her first performance of the weekend. The legendary hip-hop artist worked through a number of reggae-infused takes on some of her originals, as well as songs by The Fugees and Bob Marley.
The String Cheese Incident made their way to the Ranch Arena as the sun began to disappear for a set that featured the Song In My Head track “Colliding” as well as “The Sweet Spot,” a new tune that the band debuted during their current tour. The second set then got going with a cover of Chromeo’s “Bonafied Lovin’” that was sandwiched in between “Rosie,” while the end of the set saw drummers Michael Travis and Jason Hann take over for an EOTO-style interlude in the middle of “Joyful Sound.” The “Desert Dawn” that wrapped things up also featured an electro-heavy jam segment, albeit one that was not as decidedly dubstep-influenced as the renditions from previous years.
Just as SCI was setting things off with their second set, STS9 was playing Friday’s first night show over at the Sherwood Court. The band’s set featured the new tunes “Totem” and “New Dawn, New Day,” as well as some impressive soloing from bassist Alanna Rocklin, who recently replaced longtime bassist David Murphy following his departure from the band. STS9 was followed by a set from Umphrey’s McGee, who powered through the title track from their new album, a “Den” that was sandwiched between “Wizard Burial Ground” and an encore that featured a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time” that was placed in the middle of “Bridgeless.”
Saturday’s String Cheese Incident performance was, by most accounts, the highlight of the festival. After a first set that featured the recently debuted songs “Beautiful” and “You’ve Got The World,” as well as a cover of the Weather Report classic “Birdland,” the band took the stage for an absolutely stellar second set. Things started off strong as the band came out the gate with “Outside inside” and “Valley of the Jig” while massive inflatable balls appeared everywhere, confetti was blasted into the crowd and an assortment of dancers and acrobats performed on stage. Just as the pageantry began to subside, the group was joined by Lauryn Hill and her band for the highly anticipated Ms. Lauryn Hill Incident. As previously reported, the one-of-a-kind performance featured covers of Stevie Wonder, The Beatles and Bob Marley, along with a trio of The Fugees classics.
Saturday night continued with a performance by STS9. The segue-heavy show featured takes on the recently debuted tunes “Click Lang Echo” and “World Go Round,” as well as older material like “Evasive Maneuvers,” “TWELVE” and “Move My Peeps.” The night also marked the ninth consecutive show—every performance since Murphy’s departure—in which the band did not address the crowd (a task that was traditionally left to Murphy).
Sunday got started with number of great sets, including performances by Tuareg guitarist Bombino and Tenneessee rockers Moon Taxi, as well Forest Stage shows from funk-fusion outfit Kung Fu and New Orleans prog-funk quintet Earphunk. The day also featured noteworthy sets from Tycho and Cut Copy, along with shows from indie-darlings St. Lucia and Matt & Kim.
While the String Cheese Incident apparently decided to pass on their traditional Sunday bluegrass set, the band did go light on the electronics during the day’s first stanza, which featured takes on “Black Clouds,” Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” “Little Hands,” “Just Passing Through” and “Close Your Eyes.” The second set then saw the band delve into three Song In My Head tracks—“Let’s Go Outside,” “Can’t Wait Another Day,” and “Colorado Bluebird Sky”—as well as the psychedelic “Bumpin Reel” and a cover of The Police’s “Spirits in the Material World” before taking a quick break for fireworks. The group then returned for a crowd-pleasing encore that saw them sandwich covers of Fela Kuti’s “Zombie” and Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” in the middle of “Rollover,” with a notable EDM jam finding its way into “Crosseyed and Painless.” The night then came to a close as the band took up acoustic instruments for “Good Times Around The Bend.”
Though the weekend was full of fantastic performances, it’s also worth noting that Electric Forest’s biggest headliner might
be the location, particularly the famed Sherwood Forest, which was better than ever in 2013. The illuminated woodland was once again filled with mind-bending art installations, an assortment of hammocks, a pair of stages, a silent disco and various interactive pieces.
Here’s a look at the Electric Forest setlists:
Friday, July 27, 2014, String Cheese Incident, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Set I: Colliding > Search > So Far From Home, MLT, The Sweet Spot, One Step Closer > It Is What It Is > Bollymunster
Set II: Rosie > Bonafied Lovin’ > Rosie, Song In My Head > Give Me The Love, Piece Of Mine, Joyful Sound > Restless Wind > Desert Dawn
Saturday, July 27, 2014, String Cheese Incident, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Set I: Beautiful, Looking Glass > Birdland, You’ve Got the World, Sirens, Just One Story
Set II: Outside and Inside, Valley of the Jig, For Once In My Life^, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You^, Something^, Master Blaster (Jammin’)^, Don’t Rock My Boat^, Is This Love^, Fu-Gee-La^, Killing Me Softly^, Ready or Not^
Enc: Could You Be Loved^
Notes: ^with Ms. Lauryn Hill
Sunday, July 27, 2014, String Cheese Incident, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Set I: Black Clouds > Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Little Hands > Dudley’s Kitchen, Yo Se, Just Passing Through, Betray the Dark > Close Your Eyes
Set II: Let’s Go Outside > Sometimes a River, Can’t Wait Another Day > Spirits in the Material World > Bumpin’ Reel, Colorado Bluebird Sky
Enc 1: Rollover > Zombie > Crosseyed and Painless > Rollover
Enc 2: Good Times Around the Bend
Thursday, July 26, 2014, Umphrey’s McGee, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Set I: There’s No Crying In Mexico > 1348 -> Bad Friday, Utopian Fir > Cut the Cable, Slacker > Dear Lord > Slacker, JaJunk*
Set II: Hurt Bird Bath > Upward > Hurt Bird Bath, Come As Your Kids, Puppet String, The Triple Wide > Hajimemashite > 1348
Enc: Pay the Snucka
(*) with Entrance of the Gladiators (Julius Fučík) tease
Friday, July 27, 2014, Umphrey’s McGee, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Bathing Digits > 40’s Theme, Similar Skin, Nothing Too Fancy > The Linear > The Floor, Booth Love, Wizard Burial Ground > Den > Wizard Burial Ground, Hangover > Nothing Too Fancy
Enc: Bridgeless > Time > Bridgeless
Friday, July 27, 2014, STS9, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Totem, Simulator > Kamuy, Dance > Inspire Strikes Back, The Rabble, Vapors, MOD, Moonsocket, New Dawn, New Day > Surreality > EB
Saturday, July 28, 2014, STS9, Electric Forest, Rothbury, MI
Kabuki > Evasive Maneuvers, GLOgli > Move My Peeps, EHM, Click Lang Echo, Scheme Reprise > Grow > TWELVE > When The Dust Settles > Ramone & Emiglio > World Go Round