Electric Forest is truly a festival that’s hard to sum up in words. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend you go. If you have been then I know you’re just like me, counting the days till next year, itching to go back! This amazing festival, split into two separate weekends, is truly like no other when it comes to location and design. Ask any member of the Forest Family and they will all agree, Electric Forest is truly magical.
The Double JJ Resort has been the home of Electric Forest since the start back in 2011. The vast and absolutely beautiful forest was planted in 1955 by Wally Wajack, a decorated World War II veteran, sheriff’s deputy, pilot, and an owning partner of Double JJ Resort. Sadly, Wally Wajack past away last year, but Electric Forest had a memorial tree and plaque set up for all the forest goers to stop by and give their thanks. When its not forest season, the Double JJ Resort is a family friendly ranch open to the public for Lodging and Camping, Golf, Weddings & Events, and more. However, when it is festival season, the forest is lit up and decorated in the most spectacular way. Huge decor pieces, including a massive flower hand heart centerpiece, shadow lantern hanging high in the sky, a field of hanging umbrellas, and more lights than you can count!
This was my second time going to forest and as always, it delivers with amazing music, vendors, food, atmosphere, and all around just a magical festival. When it comes to artists, the lineups are always massive and full of well know artists. This year there were over 170 artists playing, just for weekend two, and 80 more playing weekend one. (Not every artist played both weekends) Artists from all around the world came to play at this unique festival, ranging from the always packed and popular Bassnectar and the String Cheese Incident to up and coming artists like CloZee, and some lesser known, but still loud and ‘drawing a crowd’ artists.
It’s an amazing experience just standing deep in the crowds of Forest; all the artists delivered an amazing show. The String Cheese Incident jammed out all night long on both Friday and Saturday. Marshmallow and Jauz closed out Friday night with heavy drops and spectacular visuals mixed with fireworks at the end. GRiZ filled the Ranch Stage with a massive live band and closed out Saturday night with live performers, singers, fireworks, saxophone solo, and more pink confetti than every Forest goer could carry. I remember standing in the crowd watching GRiZ’s ending, I saw the pink confetti shoot out to the crowd, everyone was so ecstatic. As the wind caught the confetti, it’s spread out over the crowds in pink rain came down upon all of us, proving GRiZ is truly a spectacular performer.
I was extremely happy to be able to finally see some artists for the first time live. The Glitch Mob blew my expectations out of the water. I had the biggest smile on my face when they played their first note, I couldn’t help but dance along as I took pictures in the photo pit. I had never seen them play live before, expecting just a flat DJ booth hidden with the screen, they came out strong playing on their custom made DJ boards with drums behind them. It was a spectacular sites to see, to shoot, and to here. Rezz was another performer I got the chance to see live the first time. I’ve always loved her music but now I have a new love for her performances because her visuals are out of this world. Her heavy drops are accompanied with a lot of red and white lights and on the screen, scenes that look like they came from a dark, creepy, epic horror movie played out. Too some that might be unpleasant but to me, a horror lover, was a thrill all of its own.
Regardless of where you are in Electric Forest new music could always be discovered. Vendors would blast music to help draw in customers, Forest Goers played music off their phones or their speakers throughout the campgrounds, and of course the ten massive stages spread throughout the forest always had an artist for Forest Goers to listen and discover.
The vendors were spread out throughout the forest located mainly by the bigger stages, The Ranch Mainstage, Sherwood Court, the Observatory, and Tripolee, with some located within the campgrounds themselves. There was a huge variety of food that even the pickiest of eaters would still be happy with the choices. From Vietnamese rice bowl, to vegan ice cream, to the thickest grilled cheese you’ve ever seen, and so many more options. Of course though, you never truly experienced Electric Forest until you had a massive slice of Spicy Pie! When it came to clothes you had more than enough options.
Every vendor has their own style when it came to hoods, bandannas, tapestries, pashmina, and costume wear, all brightly colored and absolutely beautiful. This year there’re few different vendors including the rainbow sparkle vendor, near the Hangar, with every headband you could ever imagine and the shadow lantern vendor located right by The Ranch Mainstage.
I had to talk myself out of buying one multiple times. Such intricate detail to the wooden lanterns, I knew that it would look stunning on my bedside table, but sadly I knew it would not survive the flight back to California. One of the most popular vendors at this year’s Electric Forest, was the body marbling vendor located between The Ranch and Tripolee stages. Forest goers would wait in line for the opportunity to dip their arms in water that had a small paint film overtop, giving their arms a marble painted effects that lasted all day and night.
It’s truly hard to string into words just how magical Electric Forest is. Anyone that has already been there understands that moment you scan your wristbands and you walk into the woods, it’s just breathtaking. Even in the early afternoon it’s all lit up with thousands of colors that only get deeper and more vivid as the sun starts to set. In my opinion, the best time to walk through the forest is around 6 – 7 pm as the sun starts to set, or what I like to call the magic hour.
It’s like someone opened Lightroom (photo editing software) in your brain and turns contrast, saturation, and vivid levels up to the max. The forest feels thicker, the colors get more vibrant, and all you want to do is just walk around and try to take it all in in one breath. You could take over a million pictures of Electric Forest and still not have enough to put into words. I remember seeing multiple people this year with GoPros attached to themselves and I thought “That’s a great idea, capture literally every second at Electric Forest.” Yet, knowing my luck, if I ever did that Id end up falling and breaking the camera.
The people at electric forest are always one of the most unique groups you’ll see. From the amazing and insanely detailed costumes to the intricate, crazy unique totems, everyone is always so loving, caring, and always has a fascinating story to tell. There is no standard dress code for Electric Forest, you’ll see everything. Some people simply dress up in a tank top and shorts while another’s will go all out with light up butterfly wings, sailor costumes, more neon than one thought possible, glitter so much glitter, and then my personal favorite Thor, the God of Thunder head banging it out in the crowd during The Shiz.
Everyone brings their spirits out during Electric Forest and shines them out to the world in glitter and crazy expression. The group I camped this year were just the same! The girls and I did our makeup complete with glitter each morning and the boys, had more of a relaxed look except for Saturday night when two of them were talked into wearing skull makeup for the night. We all had a laugh about it at the campground but once in the forest, I’m sure they turned a lot of heads and probably accidentally scared one or two people. I will say this, the skull makeup made it very easy to find them within the crowds! Though a totem does a better job at finding a lost group.
A totem is a natural object believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem. For Forest Goers however, a totem represents that particular group’s personality or spirit and is used as a way of staying connected, finding each other, and representing/showing off you clan. Our group had a totem for this year for maybe half a day. We hit up the Walmart just outside of the Double JJ Resort and one member, known for his silly quirks, found and purchased a bright neon green, foam, light up pirate sword, thus our totem.
I only remember seeing him carry it once, during Netsky Friday night. We all had a good laugh about it as he held it high in the air. Little did we all know it was the perfect totem, for Netsky played his remix of ‘Raise Your Weapons’ and he was having a blast! Every totem has such a unique and comedic twist to it. A lot of them are memes or references to pop culture, or has a theme based off the hilarious Adult Swim show, Rick and Morty.
Totems are a very good way to stay with your group or find them when you’re separated. Whenever our group was separated, we text each other where they were in location of the stage and then which totem they’re close by. It always made finding your group much faster with a little adventure along the way.
There was one totem that truly caught my eye this year, the mirrored light up dodecahedron. One member of our group spotted it out Saturday night and showed me a video he took of it, instantly I knew I had to get pictures for myself! Sunday, during Bassnectar my friend and I pushed through the crowds trying to get as far in as we could.
If anyone has been to Electric Forest during Bassnectar you know this is an impossible feat! I looked over and there it was, the totem lit up in all its mysterious glory! Sadly we couldn’t make it over to it, the crowd was too massive and I had to let it go. It wasn’t till two hours later, at the end of Manic Focus, the crowds were dispersing and I saw it, the totem. I left my friend and bolted towards it just to hug the guy who made it and tell them my story about Bassnectar. It made my night to finally see it up close and in person, see how it worked, how detailed it truly was, and found out the guy who made it, calls it ‘Carl’.
As Electric Forest wrapped up in the early hours of Monday morning, I slowly made my way back to the campground. I walked around the forest one last time and just watched all the people walk by. One thing that truly makes Electric Forest so unique and special is the loving atmosphere felt all around. You can stand in the middle of the Forest walkway, right in front of the heart hands sculpture and shout at the top of your lungs “Happy Forest Everybody“ and a sea of love will echo you back and even a few Forest Goers will seek you out and hug you. Everyone is so loving, caring, and always looking out for everyone around them. You will never feel alone at Electric Forest. You will always be a part of the Forest Family.
Electric Forest truly is a Magical Music and Arts Festival.
Over the course of four days, I took a few minuets to find some interesting people to sit down with and get their views on Electric Forest.
To start off tell us your name, age, and profession.
1. Beth – 62 – Retired School Teacher
2. Hank – 67 – Retired Medical Engineer
3. Rebecca – 24 – Actress
4. Misha – 46 – Medical Engineer
5. Haven – 24 – Registered Nurse
6. Ryan – 27 – Software Engineer
7. Sarah – 38 – Stay at Home Mom/Etsy Artist
8. Josh – 26 – Programmer
Which artist were you most excited to see this forest?
Beth: String Cheese Incident, we (Her and husband) could listen to them jam for hours.
Hank: String Cheese Incident, we see them every year
Rebecca: Bishop Briggs!! She did not disappoint.
Misha: Rezz, she’s amazing. I see her every tour!
Ryan: The Glitch Mob
Sarah: Bassnectar. Just like almost every one else here at EF. I love his sets, always so crowded and just epic!
Josh: The Glitch Mob
Name three of your favorite things about forest.
Beth: The interesting people and how the dress, the art and beauty within the forest, the music.
Hank: I have to agree with Barb, we love to sit back and people watch, listen to the music, and just take in the atmosphere of this festival.
Rebecca: The library in the forest. Spicy Pies (Big slices of Jalapeño pizza) Seeing everybody’s creativity in art and dresswear.
Misha: Definitely the music, I love exploring new DJs. The art is always awesome and theres usually artists paining right before your eyes.
Haven: The “family” feel, there was so much to do and see, the free food/beer and the pool party for good Life.
Ryan: Everyone looks out for each other, the forest is beautiful, and you never know what to expect.
Josh: Drinking, Chest Rumbling Bass, meeting new friends
Were you more focused on your favorite artists this forest? Or did you check out some new ones?
Beth: More focused on our favorites, more calm smooth music not so much the heavy bassy ones that come out later in the nights.
Hank: We were mainly focused on our favorites, we use to explore new artists but we have a certain kind of music we like and we just stick to that.
Rebecca: I only knew about 4 artist there. So I made sure to support them but I went to check out other artist as well. I had recommendations from friends.
Misha: Definitely hit up my favorites!
Haven: Favorite groups, there was so many favorite groups on the list that we were always seeing someone we knew already.
Ryan: I saw many new groups this year, probably more than last year.
Sarah: I saw a lot of new groups this year. I was with friends last weekend and alone this weekend so we saw our favs the first weekend and I just explored all around this weekend. Best decision I made honestly!
Josh: I focused on seeing my mains.
What was the biggest surprise this forest?
Beth: Oh goodness, well this has been our what fourth year, Id say the biggest surprise is just how many more people attend each year.
Hank: Im always surprised at how they change up the look of the forest, every years theres a new theme. We always make sure to watch all around and check out all the new sites.
Rebecca: The amount of details that went into every stage and the atmosphere of electric forest.
Misha: I liked the new stage at the back of the Hangar, loved what they did there.
Haven: Free pool party for Good Life
Ryan: The updated stuff in the hangar and the Carousel club.
Sarah: I loved the new min decoration, the hands in the shape of a heart! We took so many pictures in front of it!
Josh: The guy who tried to cuddle with me on my blow up couch during marshmellow.
As a festival goer whats your number one essential item to bring to festivals?
Beth: Water and Sunscreen, Im a mother and grandmother so I’m always cautious of that.
Hank: Water, definitely.
Rebecca: CAMELBACK!!! In the beginning I thought it would be annoying carrying around a backpack with a water bladder; but – it was so hot and I was walking so much – I had to refill the bladder at least 4 times a day, if not more.
Misha: Water and a pashmina or headband! The sun is crazy hot.
Ryan: Putting a tarp over your tent can get you an extra 2-3 hours of sleep in the mornings.
Sarah: Money! Things can get expensive here and you can never get enough spicy pie.
Josh: Hammock instead of a tent.
What makes Forest stand out from other festivals?
Beth: Its close by which is always nice, we live not too far from here. We like to come here and see the forest when its not all set up for this festival, its a very drastic change.
Hank: The atmosphere and how they set everything up its just, such an amazing place to just walk around and people watch.
Rebecca: The positive energy, constant flow of artistic energy and love.
Misha: Its so close and its just such an awesome festival.
Haven: Lineup, location being in the forest, the “family” atmosphere
Ryan: The art, activities, and everything in the forest, the people, the family-feel of everyone that you meet.
Sarah: I love nature so this place speaks to me
Josh: I don’t know that I know other festivals well enough to give an informed answer, but I’d say they do a good job in management. Most queues and auxiliary features, like their mobile app, are pretty efficient.
How would you describe forest in one word?
What do you personally get out of going to Forest?
Beth: A chance to get out, spend time together, meet new interesting people in very interesting ways, and relax to music.
Hank: Time with this one in a new place surrounded by the most interesting people you’ll ever see.
Rebecca: Swollen feet and legs. I personally gained a time away from reality. As an artist and actress I was drooling over all the art department and lighting; it solidified the idea that I am in the correct profession. I felt at home; there was no judgement, only caring human beings. Coming home from the forest was a weird wake up from a midsummer’s dream, but I feel empowered and ready to soak in some nasty beats at home from my new favorite artists while striving forward in my acting career.
Misha: Time away from work and to relax and listen to some epic music
Haven: A hell of a lot awesome memories
Ryan: To see a place where everyone is there for the same reason, gets along, helps each other, an be reminded of how the world could be.
Josh: A good vacation. A time where I can let go of all responsibilities and just unwind for a few days.