Over the past year we have had the good fortune of attending many music festivals across these great United States, including EDC Las Vegas, Ultra Music Festival, EDC Chicago, EDC Orlando, Suwannee Hulaween, CounterPoint, and Wakarusa to name a few.
These opportunities to be completely enthralled in the music experience have granted us the privilege of meeting many types of wonderful people and sharing our love of music in a wide array of settings, from the desolate Mulberry Mountain deep in The Ozarks of Arkansas to sunny Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida and beyond.
While all of these monumental escapades have left a profound impression on each of our lives and our perception of the world, there is just something unspeakable that resonates from deep within the Electric (Sherwood) Forest that simply can’t be forgotten.
During those perfectly warm, Midwestern summer nights there was more than just music and people; there was community, friendship, love and an overwhelming sense of belonging that passed from person to person in a way neither of us have ever before witnessed.
Having had multiple days to reflect on the magic that exists at Electric Forest, we can’t help but shake the notion that this is the way everyday life should be.
At the turn of every corner there was a sense of family and belonging that permeated throughout the surrounding woodlands; over 30,000 individuals coming together as one to share a weekend filled with laughter, love, and music.
Even hours away from the venue the energy was already beginning to fill the air. Cars with out-of-state license plates filled I-96, enveloped with decorative paint that declared “Off to The Forest!“.
Exiting the highway began to reveal the true picture of what was in store. Locals camped out in front of their houses that lined the street into the venue, donning smiles and hand made signs that proclaimed, “Happy Forest!”
Once inside there was no escaping the positive vibe that blanketed the entire venue.
Totems bobbed up and down with pride, police officers traded kandi with dedicated ravers, and every request for a high-five went returned. Throughout the weekend we witnessed countless examples of festival-goers checking on their fellow fest-heads that seemed to be having a less than favorable time; Offering water, a helping hand or even just flashing smiles to people who seemed tired, lost or otherwise not having a blast at that moment.
Everyone felt welcome, welcome to be themselves, meet new people and dance like nobody was watching. The lack of judgement, the free hugs and the open conversation was refreshing and almost made our activities in “real life” seem so silly. We’re all just here for a good time, and in the forest, everybody looked out for everybody.
As the campgrounds merged on to Main Street en route to the main festival grounds of The Sherwood Forest, a banner covered the side of a campsite that encapsulates a central theory that reigned true throughout the entire weekend:
“There is no Wi-Fi in The Forest, but we promise you will find a better connection.”
Oh ravers, you beautiful, beautiful people. A message so basic yet so true; a simple reminder to leave your inhibitions at the car and soak up the essence of life, to experience what it is to feel alive and in the moment.
Spend your life doing strange things with weird people. – Anonymous
The Event Itself
Leading up to the first weekend in The Forest we had heard tales of how incredible the vibe was, the unbreakable bond of The Forest Family, and the ‘mind-blowing-ness’ of the venue itself. All of our previous experiences could not even help us form an adequate guess of what the weekend would be like.
In their usual manner, event producers Insomniac and Madison House Presents left absolutely no bases uncovered in providing the ultimate experience for guests. Every minor detail was executed flawlessly; from art to food to sound to stages and beyond.
- Traffic flow in to and out of the venue was seamless, campsites provided enough space that there were even two full fields of uninhabited Midwestern plain, and trash cans (outside of the venue) were available at nearly every corner.
- The General Store consistently provided necessities such as ice, water, and cigarettes while a bevy of vendors served food options from Vegan burgers and fresh smoothies to Teriyaki bowls and curly fries. There was certainly no shortage of unique food options to satisfy any palette.
- Medical tents and water-refill stations were strategically placed allowing for those in attendance to easily satiate their thirst or seek attention under various circumstances.
Perhaps best of all was the more than sufficient number of portable restrooms that were frequently serviced and within eyesight at any given moment.
Many of these seemingly minor details often go overlooked until they are not available, causing for energy to be detracted from the overall festival experience.
Insomniac and Madison House Presents continue to ensure that guests have the best possible adventures by going the extra mile, and this year at Electric Forest is a prime example. Not once throughout the weekend did we hear anyone have a single reservation about any amenity readily (or not) available.
While the lineup featured some of the best live music that your ears could possible consume, it was seemingly secondary to the collective weirdness that created lasting memories and life lessons that the tens of thousands Forest-goers have carried with them to their respective corners of the country and beyond.
The incredible array of performances included legendary appearances from String Cheese Incident, Steve Angello, Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, Zedd, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Steven Marley, Excision, Moby, Zeds Dead, Art Department and so many other incredible artists. The sound, the performance quality and the engagement by the audience to every note was infectious. Most of us danced until we could no longer, which lasted but a few moments until somebody pulled you up and got the groove going. Even if your entire body ached, you got funky once again.
The Lasting Impression
As we come back to reality, we have to rejoice that we were fortunate enough to share this experience and spend the weekend at Electric Forest. Having ventured back to our various corners of the country, we take with us those positive experiences and hours of endless happiness and continue to share it with our community.
Whether you are sitting on the subway stressed about your workday, stuck in traffic, contemplating how you will pay your next phone bill, or just generally find yourself down in the dumps, remember one thing:
The emotions and experiences that we shared in The Sherwood Forest, the way that we went about life for those 4-5 days, is the way life should be. There is no reason that those high-fives cannot be extended when walking down the street, no reason that you should not run up and hug those that you care about without any reservations.
Sure it might be looked at as a little weird or abnormal. But as we learned at Electric Forest, there is nothing wrong with being a little strange.
After all, this is the way everyday life should be.
For more killer photos from the event, check out our Electric Forest Photo Album on Facebook