Electric Forest 2016: Where Our Minds Were Awakened

(Rothbury, MI) – Music festivals have been around for decades, but as of recently there has been a tremendous growth in both the amount of festivals being held and the number of people attending.   Now in it’s sixth year, Electric Forest Music Festival held in Rothbury, Michigan, opened its gates to more hippies and ravers than any year before.

Over the weekend of June 23-27, nearly 45,000 people gathered together to celebrate and experience 4 days of life changing live music, psychedelic art, and the magic of the Sherwood Forest.  With the line up consisting of a mix between jam bands and electronic dance music, Electric Forest’s line-up was absolute bliss for genre-bending music lovers.

Major Lazer / Thursday, June 23 / © Mark Reddington Photography
Major Lazer / Thursday, June 23 / © Mark Reddington Photography

After a year of waiting, many people were insanely eager to get on with their festival weekend and were in line long before opening time on Thursday afternoon.  For a festival that has 7 stages and few secret spots, it is hard to make it to every show.  Major Lazer, The Disco Biscuits, Eoto, and Apashe were only few of the acts that people were wildly enthusiastic for opening night of the 4-day camping festival.

That same day, the first of EF’s 2016 Curation Series, “Anjunadeep,” took place from 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. at the Tripolee stage.  Beginning with Yotto, deep house music was also brought by Cubicolor, Way Out West, Moon Boots, Lane 8, Dusky, and finally finished with a DJ set by Bonobo.

Before everyone knew it, it was Friday and time for a whole new world of music.  The day began with Yoga at noon for those who needed to stretch out before they raged.  It was the day of 2 curated events, “Bassrush” and “House of EFUNK”, as well as the first night of The String Cheese Incident – something many had been waiting all night for.  Cheese played 2 sets each night at the Ranch Arena Stage, with the help of a few other pop-up artists, including Griz (who was all over the place the entire weekend.)

Saturday was the day many of the bassheads were fired up for.  Breaking out their best festival attire, they were ready for a night of bass, including a performance from the new EF resident DJ: Bassnectar.  He definitely brought some deep sounds but by the end of the night the crowd was just a little too agitated to actually enjoy much about his set.

String Cheese Incident @ Electric Forest 2016
String Cheese Incident / Electric Forest 2016 / © Mark Reddington Photography

However, it was a day filled with great, wholesome vibes for those who were not going to miss String Cheese’s special Saturday night sets.  Saturday night Cheese is the night you don’t want to miss.  For those that didn’t go to the “Night Bass” curated event and instead attended the “All Good Records” curated event, were in for a treat.

This curated event was kicked off by The Geek & VRC, followed by the All Good Records Jam.  If you missed this, you made a mistake.  For this set, the brothers of The Floozies, Griz, Freddy Todd, Muzzy Bear, and Russ Liquid all hopped on stage together to create a jam band of epic proportions.  This set was followed by Russ Liquid b2b Freddy Todd, Muzzy Bear, Goth Pith, and finally finished with what was supposed to be a set by Shooka.  Instead of Shooka, attendees were shocked when Griz appeared on stage behind the turntables too.  The two had paired together to create one set only of what would be known as “The Shiz.”

Early Sunday the hollers of the wooks that hadn’t yet gone to sleep could be heard all throughout the campground.  Sounded like people could not wait to go absolutely bonkers their last night there.  Even though a monsoon came through, making everything muddy, peoples spirits were not going to be ruined by it.

Sunday was the day of Liquid Stranger, Sunsquabi, Tchami, Beats Antique, and more.  It was also the final day of The String Cheese Incident which was followed by The Floozies then Griz performing at Sherwood Court. Almost everyone gathered in the field and on the edge of the forest to be soothed by the sweet saxophone sounds that would nearly be the last set of the weekend.

Day to day, on top of the music that could been seen at the 7 stages, there was also the Silent Disco going each night.  Here, people would walk into a section of the forest, put on headphones, and jam in silence with all others there.  There is something goofy about watching people dance without knowing what they may be listening to.

The music is only half of the experience, the rest comes while walking around exploring and soaking in the nature and environment.  Throughout the weekend there were ample opportunities to take a trip into the forest, hang around in a hammock, chill in and around the art installations, and interact with individuals roaming just waiting to share their story.

Electric Forest Thursday Photo 90
The Heart Of Electric Forest / Electric Forest 2016 / © Mark Reddington Photography

There’s something about the Forest that will draw in everyone who is near.  From the eclectic music to the architecture, everything is unique to the experience. During the day all one wants to do is kiss the sky as the trees hug you in their mellow embrace and whimsical spirit. Looking upon that forest is like entering the fairy tale you have always dreamt of. As the sun went down, the stars lit the sky, while strange neon hues lit the forest. With something glowing in every direction the trip through the forest is one well worth it.

To me personally, this festival has taught me what peace, love, unity, and respect really is.  Tens of thousands of people come to camp together, teach each other, and ultimately connect through their passion of music.  Genuine happiness is the main thing shared throughout this community giving everyone a real sense of belonging that they may not find in the real world. It is impossible to understand for those who haven’t experienced it, but this festival is able to open your mind, soul, and heart ten times wider than they were before.

Electric Forest 2016 was filled with copious amounts of love and magical music.  The weekend came and went quicker than everyone wished but now it’s time to start the countdown to 2017’s festival.

And now, relive the moments by browsing the photo roll below:





Photography by Mark Reddington Photography

See you next year!

Maddie Steen

Hey, I'm Maddie and I'm a spunky little music enthusiast. I'm a die hard phish fan but down tempo and dubstep also hold my heart. Catch me at a festival or on the trail year round! I'm studying journalism and environmental studies and couldn't be more grateful for the beautiful life I'm living!

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