There’s just no place like Sherwood Forest. More than 40,000 hippies, bassheads, lovers, friends and families gathered in the woods of Rothbury, Michigan, for the seventh-annual Electric Forest festival. It was four days of fun in the sun, rain and mud, and the feeling of something magical was thick in the air.
Electric Forest is a wonderland for the senses. Everywhere you look is some secret goodie, or giant sculpture, or friendly face beaming with colors. When the sun goes down, the freaks come out, and all the real fun begins. Each evening spent wandering the technicolor trees of Sherwood Forest reveals even more excitement. Just when you think you’ve discovered it all, there’s more to be seen.
That’s not even to mention the interstellar lineup of DJs, producers, jam bands, singer-songwriters and hip-hop heroes. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to see why Electric Forest expanded to two weekends in 2017. For all those planning a trip to Sherwood this Thursday to Sunday, we suggest you look out for these wild and wondrous things:
Mechan 9, Your Giant Robot Friend
Dedicated to C-3PO, Data and “all the other robots who have helped show us that you don’t have to be human to have humanity,” this 40 feet wide, 6 feet tall friend was half-buried in the forest floor. An interactive installation, people could be found climbing its huge arms and legs, staring into its glowing-heart chest, and excitedly translating its shimmering secret messages. Once cracked, a symbolic code revealed silly jokes and combinations to open safes loaded with prizes. Shout-out to artist tyler fuQua creations for the forest fun.
Not even a massive moat of mud could keep thousands of rap lovers away from the Long Beach MC’s Friday headlining set at Jubilee. There was incredible energy under the big tent as Staples delivered his unique brand of electronic SoCal vibes. He worked through old favorites, dropped dance collabs with GTA and Major Lazer, and served up tons of cuts from his new album Big Fish Tale, which conveniently dropped while he commanded the stage. The next day, everyone was talking about Staples’ new tunes. Being there for the magic moment was definitely a great way to set off the weekend.
Odesza was the most scheduled act on the Electric Forest act, but that’s only because Bassheads don’t need a digital reminder when their leader takes the stage. There was no way any crowd matched this mass of uplifted humans. People camped out hours for a sweet spot on the main-stage lawn, and when Bassnectar dropped tunes new and old, the lasers and glowing totems must have been visible from outer space. It was the moment more than half the festival had waited for, and boy, was it a sonic boom.
The homie Russ Liquid joined the Australian funkmaster on keys and horn, providing the already dastardly DJ with even more oomph. It was a perfect pairing that got everyone flailing their limbs about, dancing like no one was watching at Jubilee. Opiuo even debuted a new track, never before heard by human ears. It was bassy and ballsy and sounds like it could be a total summer smash.
The Trading Post
No, this is not a store that sells things. No, they do not want to buy your kandi bracelet. Yes, this place is in the market for unique, rare and otherworldly items. If you’ve got something super special, you could trade it in for hat pins, ornate chess sets, old portraits, magical mysteries and other awesome gadgets. Wander into this forest hideaway and peruse the offerings, make a trade if you can, and stay for the music at the special GA stage.
When London-bred dance and hip-hop hybrid producer TroyBoi introduced himself to the crowd of the Sherwood Forest stage, it seemed almost a moot point. He’d gathered the largest collection of bouncing bodies at that stage so far, and everyone seemed to be intimately acquainted with his wild style. He mixed at breakneck speeds between original tunes, hip-hop hits and banging bass dance beats. Trappin’ ain’t dead after all.
The Giving Tree and Hidden Fairy Hideaways
You give what you get, you get what you give, and Electric Forest is all about the fair trade. The forest is full of little fairy houses stuck at the bottoms of trees. Open the doors to find hidden happy messages and more. Maybe someone left 75 cents for someone in need. Then there’s “the giving tree,” a big, happy guy where crowds of people can always be found searching its nooks and crannies for items left by pleasant travelers looking to pay it forward. You never know what you’ll find, but make sure you leave something else awesome for another weary traveler.
Tripolee and Hangar Stages
Honestly, of all the stages erected at Electric Forest, Tripolee and The Hangar were definitely the coolest. Tripolee looked like one had stumbled upon some ancient ruins. The massive idols flanking each side were silent deities blessing the dancers below. The Hangar was not only a place to hide from the elements, but also a collection of cool diversions to keep one busy for hours. You could get a fresh cut from the barber, take a few silly photos at the selfie shop, enjoy a round of bowling or pool at the game room and more. You can also catch cool dancers, burlesque performers and other entertainment between bands
At a festival of lights and colors, nothing fits right in quite like the neon chippy sound of Australia’s Wave Racer. He’s a rare act to catch, and his Sunday set at Tripolee was just the burst of energy needed to make the final hours of Electric Forest go their hardest. It was bassy, it was funky, and it played out like a 64-bit dream. It sounded like he dropped some new material too, so look out for fun new vibes from the Future Classic artist, coming soon.?
Truly, more than anything else, the overall feeling of positivity and appreciation that fills Sherwood with love is the best part of this festival. “Happy Forest!” strangers exclaim from one beaming face to another. You can tell it’s the kind of place people can’t wait to return to year in and year out. From the artists to the vendors, and fans young and old, Electric Forest inspires something special. It’s a cool vibe to catch, and once you’ve got it, you’ll find your smile is infectious.