By Bethany Weems & Joylyn Phoenix
Rothbury, Mich. – The Electric Forest Festival lit up Michigan’s picturesque west coast these past two weekends (June 22-25 and June 29 to July 2) with a slate of top-notch DJs, diverse bands and resounding creativity. As usual, DJ Times was there to take it all in.
Coming hot on the heels of the Movement Festival on Memorial Day weekend in Detroit where America’s Best DJ Summer Tour Presented by Weedmaps & DJ Times was launched, Electric Forest presented 10 ABDJ nominees. They included A-Trak, AC Slater, Bassnectar, Dillon Francis, Justin Martin, Porter Robinson, RL Grime, Soul Clap, 12th Planet, and Wolf + Lamb.
Presented by Insomniac Events and Madison House, Electric Forest is a festival like no other. The majority of each weekend’s attendees (40,000-plus) camps on festival grounds, so it is a fully immersive experience, starting on Wednesday for those lucky (savvy) enough to arrange early arrival. This year’s event—now in its seventh year of consecutive production—marked the first time that the festival ran on consecutive weekends.
In buying tickets for this sold-out festival, campers were offered a wide range of accommodations. The packages span from the luxuries of cabin living, complete with exclusive amenities like free admission to the Gold Rush water park and free golf cart rides all the way to the rugged camp life in General Admission. This year, the DJ Times crew sprung for Good Life Electric Avenue camping where the tents were provided and the life was indeed good. Once you go Good Life, you never go back.
Camp life could be challenging this year, though, especially as there was a deluge of water and flooding early on for both weekends. It rained so much the first two days that mud pits formed throughout the festival and camping grounds that created a major challenge for festivalgoers. Still, the music kept everyone enthralled and entertained.
Highlights from this year’s first weekend included AC Slater, who kicked off Saturday night at the Tripolee Stage with Ganja White Night’s “Mr. Wobble.” A-Trak also tore up the Forest Stage with his hit “Parallel Lines” featuring Phantogram. We also trekked across the festival’s squishy terrain to catch a midnight set by Americas Best DJ 2016 Claude VonStroke, who played a bouncy mix through bouts of rain at the Tripolee Stage.
On Saturday night, Bassnectar took over the Ranch Arena with a spectacular set. When Bassnectar opened with his remix of “Teleport Massive,” it brought tears to our eyes – or was that just confetti? Nonetheless, there was more music to be experienced.
On Sunday, Dillon Francis brought the heat right out of the gate with “Need You” (Dillon & NGHTMRE Yookie Remix). Francis engaged the crowd at the Ranch Arena with samples for everyone ranging from “Next Episode” from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001 and “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell. We were further hooked when he played “Welcome to The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. Francis rounded out the night with his tracks “Get Low” (with DJ Snake) and “Say Less” (featuring G-Eazy). Whew.
At the Jubilee Stage, L.A.-based DJ/producer John Dadzie (aka 12th Planet), pumped the crowd with “Skinny Pigs” (with Lumberjvck and Protohype) from his 2016 EP Gully Squad. Next, he called out the “PLUR Police” (the Jauz Remix of the Knife Party tune). Then his set got downright wicked with Herobust’s “Smother Shit.” Another late night of big beats.
Also, as part of our annual tradition, we made a point to visit the Silent Disco for a DJ-favorite of ours, Robbie Kowal (aka Motion Potion), who was hosting a bevy of artists, including breaks aficionado Keith Mackenzie, who rocked the woods – for those happily wearing headphones.
Thanks to all – once again, the Forest was Electric! See you next year!