Be prepared to embrace a little magic at the Electric Forest music festival in Rothbury, just a three-hour road trip away from metro Detroit. Can’t get to Lollapalooza this year? Electric Forest has got you covered. Now in its fourth year, the unique event emphasizes electronic and jam genres. The festival has attracted more than 30,000 people.
This year’s Electric Forest has been mired in controversy. At press time, lawsuits were still underway between multiple event promoters trying to retain control over the grounds where the festival is held. But whatever the judge might decide, promoters say the show will still go on June 26-29.
The festival grounds are being fought over for a reason: The “Sherwood Forest” venue is unlike any other. It glows with neon lights and is scattered with hundreds of surprises like art installations, hidden treehouses, private parties, and of course, live music day and night.
Large crowds have made bands like The String Cheese Incident call Electric Forest home (they’ve been at every one). Other scheduled performers include Matt and Kim, Zeds Dead, Art Department, Detroit techno originator Kevin Saunderson, and Steve Angello.
One of the best things about Electric Forest is that you can create your own experience, choose your own adventure, or simply dance in a crowd.
“It oozes art,” says Jeremy Stein, co-partner of Madison House Presents, producer of Electric Forest. “We drape hundreds of hammocks between the trees for fans to use, there are tons of artful installations and gathering spaces, there are also lots of surprises — secret parties, roaming performance artists. And at night the forest turns electric with some really amazing, state-of-the-art light displays.”
Most guests arrive ready to camp the entire festival, but there are also a variety of overnight accommodations directly on the festival grounds.
One of the things talked about most is how unmatched the community vibe is, Stein says. Using a program called “Plug In,” fans are encouraged to participate and contribute to the festival, including creating art installations and choosing performers.
“The program deliberately blurs the line between us — the event organizers — and the attendees. Results have been truly inspiring,” Stein says. “Ultimately they play a huge role in shaping the Electric Forest experience, and that sense of ownership takes the vibe of the event to a whole new level.”
For more information on this year’s lineup of performers or to purchase tickets, visit electricforestfestival.com
First photograph courtesy of Phil Amonjaro; second photograph courtesy of Tobin Voggesser; third photograph courtesy of Brian Spady