By Joylyn Phoenix, Kayla Bultema & Brian Bonavoglia
Rothbury, Mich. – The amazing Electric Forest festival returned to the woods of Western Michigan this past two weekends – June 21-24 and June 28 – July 1 – and DJ Times was there to take in all its natural beauty, not to mention all those big beats. Produced by Insomniac, Electric Forest is a one-of-a-kind experience – Michigan-based correspondents Joylyn Phoenix and Kayla Bultema covered Week 1, while DJ Times’ Brian Bonavoglia handled Week 2.
Weekend 1 Highlights: On Thursday, Green Velvet wowed tech-house fans at the La La Land Stage (Tripolee) as he played “All Ports” by Adrian Oblanca and delivered a mesmerizing rendition of his classic “La La Land.” Also of note, Kerri Chandler dropped a hot remix of “American Boy” by Estelle featuring Kanye West, setting the fun tone for the weekend.
Further into the forest, the Sherwood Court stage was adorned with majestic elephants, fuchsia lights and lasers, as Gryffin inspired dancers with his remixes of “Slasherr” (Flume Edit) by Rustie and RL Grime’s “Core.” Gryffin pumped up the crowd with Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” and, when he briefly cut the music, the crowd responded on cue – “My left stroke just went viral!”
After tearing it up at Detroit’s Movement festival the previous month, Mija returned to Michigan to take over the Forest and Tripolee Stage with four different sets at EF on Weekend 1. True to her previous “FK A Genre” tour and promotion, Mija gave Foresters a real spattering of musical styles. She even graced the audience with heavenly vocals as she sang her ethereal single, “Notice Me.” As much as the audience savored her sweet originals, the dancing mob couldn’t help but be swept off their feet (literally) when she kicked out Modest Mouse and Postal Service remixes.
On Friday evening, when Atlanta DJ/producer Herobust opened his bass set at Tripolee with “WTF” and then launched into “Rocket Fuel” by Trampa, the crowd went insane. Later, fellow ABDJ nominee MK burned up the decks with his original “17” and gave EF house fans a thrilling, deep set.
Later on, ZHU really tore it up. In dropping his Nero collab “Dreams” and his own tracks (“In the Morning,” “Somebody Save Me” and “Exhale”) plus some choice remixes (like Lincoln Park’s “Faint”), ZHU got the crowd going, warming up the audience plenty for the evening’s headliner.
When Bassnectar hit the stage, the bassheads really raised the energy in the Ranch Area. He blasted them with the “Doctor P Instrumental Remix” of Blame’s “Star,” DMVU’s “Bloccd,” Protohype’s “Say My Name” and the “Maxence Cyrin Remix” of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” In the end, the colorful confetti blast during Bassnectar’s closing set blanketed the dark sky, as dripping foresters banged to “Whip Lash,” a robotic, unreleased collab with Gnar Gnar featuring Reaps One.
Other Highlights included Louis the Child’s secret set in Sherwood Court, plus crowd-pleasing sets by sax-toting DJ/producer GRiZ and by local bass decknician DJ Brexx.
Weekend 2: The second weekend of Michigan’s premiere music-and-art festival continued to heat things up (quite literally) as temperatures crept into the high 80s, but that didn’t seem to slow festival goers down one bit. And who doesn’t love a little fun under the sun?
Highlights from acts exclusive to Weekend 2 included: Deadmau5, whose techno-driven TESTPILOT alter-ego rocked the Tripolee stage; electronic dance music’s sweet treat Marshmello, who showcased his latest album, Joytime II; REZZ, who dropped a sinister, pulsating, musical journey; English house aficionado Chris Lake, who got the groove going; and bass phenom Crankdat, who rattled the Forest Family with a memorable set they won’t soon forget.