Electric Forest Festival, Rothbury, MI 6/28-7/1
The second annual Electric Forest Festival gates opened early Thursday morning for attendees to set up their campsites in the scorching heat and enjoy the comfort of their shade tents for a few hours while awaiting the sun to go down and the music to commence. At the Double JJ Ranch, Thursday night started off with a set from Conspirator, who threw down until the sun went down at the Sherwood Stage. They even threw out several hats to fans in the front few rows. Their set included masterful remixes of Hendrix’s “Fire” and Avicii’s “Seek Bromance.” They were also all dressed in black from head to toe. They literally brought the house down with KJ Sawka’s “drumdub.”
EOTO continued on the same stage pumping the bass and entertaining the masses with a mind-blowing set. Their act was filled with intense beats and blaring bass lines. Michael Travis was not only DJing, but also he was adding guitar riffs. Jason Hann played drums and was also doing bits of improvised and freestyle rapping including a remix of Ludacris’ “How Low,” “Er Body in The Forest Getting’ Tipsy,” and a highly synthesized version of “Electric Avenue.” A rendition of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” was also featured. EOTO’s new Lotus flower stage was mesmerizing with vibrant visualizers projected on the stage.
Ghostland Observatory’s set at the Ranch Arena featured their familiarly astounding laser light show. Whether you were in the crowd close to the stage, or back by the trees lounging in a hammock the lasers brilliantly illuminated the sky above. “Sad Sad City” from the album Paparazzi Lightning, was a popular sing along that really got the fans shouting the lyrics. Ghostland’s encore was the soulful Snoop Dogg track “Drop it Like It’s Hot.”
Beats Antique closed out Thursday night with an unforgettable show. They had an amazing stage presence with a female dancer and a multitude of on stage instrumental performances. Their set included Bassnectar remix “Voodoo” and the beloved track, “Egyptic” off of the album Blind Threshold.
After Beats Antique, for the first time, attendees were able to experience the nocturnal Sherwood Forest, named after Robin Hood. The forest literally came alive at night with an abundance of light and laser beams, disco balls, smoke machines, vibrant art installations, colorful dancers, walking entertainers and other interesting and fascinating adventures among the pine trees. One of the highlights of the festival was this legendary forest which also included a small stage, a full bar, a solar powered DJ booth and countless exciting activities; the alternative attraction of the festival adjacent to the music. The forest also had about a thousand ENO hammocks for people to lounge and relax in.
Friday kicked off with Cherub at the Tripolee stage and Gary Clark, Jr. at the Ranch Arena. Cherub began their set by collaborating with Dom and Jeremy of Big Gigantic. They played “Love You Right”, “Minez/Yourz” and “Disco Inferno” together. They also featured two excellent covers, Calvin Harris’s “You used to Hold Me” and Daft Punk’s “Around the World.” The encore was their hit song Doses and Mimosas.
At the Ranch Arena, Gary Clark, Jr. played several tracks off of his newest EP, Bright Lights and sang and jammed to adoring fans that really dug his funky badass style. “Don’t Owe You A Thang,” and “Bright Lights” were obviously the most favored tunes that he performed, with their popular lyrics, soulful vibes and bluesy jams.
Brothers Past continued at Tripolee playing a few long jams including “Lets Start a Gang,” “Big Blue Apples” and “Machine.” All of these songs frequent their live studio album releases, Everything Must Go and Songs That Aren’t on the Ceiling.
A highlight of Friday evening’s String Cheese Incident set was the collaboration with the horns section from Thievery Corporation, comprised of Frank Mitchell, Jr. on the saxophone and Dave Finnell on the trumpet for “Valley of the Jig.” Cheese also teased the theme from Sesame Street during “Rhythm of the Road.”
Friday came to a conclusion with an impressive set from Sound Tribe Sector Nine. Sporting matching white shirts and black ties, Tribe launched off in their new space ship themed lighting production rig, a rarity at festivals. They took off with a short space ship clip, landed in Rothbury, Michigan and played “March,” “Scheme,” “20-12” and “Hidden Hand Hidden Fist.” They also sampled some crazy pitched voices, talking to the crowd. All of the songs that they played throughout the night fit in well with the spacey theme and the crowd loved it.