After spending the last five years experiencing the best festivals that North America has to offer it takes a lot to impress me. Now I still love every festival I go to, but the moments of pure bliss, wonder, and amazement that routinely happened during my first year of festivals are now rare occurrences. At least they were until I went to Electric Forest. EF blew my mind in so many ways that I felt like it was my first festival again.
This was not my first journey to the forest. I’ve had the honor of attending the last five years. This experience has allowed me to see how the festival and the attendees have grown. I’m happy to report that the changes have been very positive on both sides.
2016 was the year that Electric Forest proved it could handle it’s growth. 2012-2014 were years of organized growth but tickets were relatively easy to come by. When an area of the forest got too crowded the issue was fixed the next year. 2015 brought accelerated growth as two new stages and new camping space were opened. Despite the additional room the demand far outweighed the supply making tickets hard to get. Unfortunately, the new space was not ample for the number of attendees as there was not enough room in the campground and the general admission security could not keep up with the numbers causing massive lines to get in.
This all changed this year. The camping was organized. The supply of security guards was able to handle the waves of fans entering the gates. The artist schedule was perfectly timed to keep the crowd evenly dispersed across the venue. The only follies I can say is that the cell reception was so bad that I was never able to download the EF app and there wasn’t anyone handing out schedules.
EF excels in creating a complete festival experience. In addition to beautiful stages and premier speakers, there is art in every direction, perfect lighting, delicious food, and dozens of nooks and crannies to explore. Every festival should send a representative to Electric Forest to learn what was a complete festival experience is all about.
The biggest area of improvement that has made Electric Forest one of the premier festivals in America is how the crowd has improved. During my first year of Electric Forest in 2012 the crowd was more than a little rough around the edges. It seemed that most of them had never been to a festival before and didn’t understand the concept of picking up after themselves or taking care of themselves over the course of the weekend. 2013, 2014, and 2015 were all better than the year before. It seems that all of the internet posts about being better Festival-Goers has made it’s mark as this year’s festival was the cleanest it has ever been. One epic group of Bassnectar fans even worked together to try and break the negative reputation by organizing a group cleanup after their show.
With the festival and crowd all being better than ever the end result was four days of festival bliss. Electric Forest has always been a wonderful place to watch music and this year did not disappoint. My personal highlights included Way Out West, Rufus Du Sol, Griz, The Shiz, The Floozies, Manic Focus, Russ Liquid, Louis The Child, SCI, Magic Giant and 12th Planet.
Electric Forest is such an incredible festival that it is a tragedy that more people can’t experience it. This is one of those festivals that I believe should have 2 weekends. The venue can handle it, the demand is there, and the lineup is diverse enough to have people like me entertained when you go both weekends.
I’ll see you next year Electric Forest. And the year after that. And that.. Forever more. Long live Electric Forest!
Team Griz (Photo:Live Edits Lab)