Electric Forest 2016 finishes with a bang as Saturday and Sunday brought unannounced surprises and the big names to the stage to wrap up its yearly gathering
By day three the festival run around and two full days and nights of grooving has definitely made for some sore campers. This is all the more reason to attend the Electric Forest yoga class, held the last three days at noon on the Tripolee stage with instructor Hannah Muse. If you caught her set on Friday you also got to enjoy Dixon’s Violin live as the background music. With beautiful sunny weather, the soothing instruction from Hannah Muse, and a good morning stretch paired with Dixon’s Violin, you had one of the most organically soothing moments of Electric Forest 2016. The morning yoga sets at Electric Forest have taken off in the past couple years and are a must-experience at this wholesome festival. The class offered the perfect collections of movement and poses to keep veteran yogi’s entertained and welcome newcomers alike.
On Saturday if you spent some time in the Sherwood Forest you were bound to see one of many special unplanned moments that only can be held at Electric Forest. The early-birds of Saturday who caught Dixon’s Violin solo set at the Observatory Stage from 1:45-2:45 got quite the show. Around mid-way through his set a special gathering of the forest creatures gathered. The costumed actors slowly collected around the dance floor and twirled around the dancing crowd in excitement and bewilderment. They frolicked with the swinging dancers on the Observatory deck before being overcome by the gang of foxy giant older women patrolling the forest the whole weekend. The elderly woman wore revealing clothing, said laughable vulgar statements, and stomped around the Sherwood Forest chirping amongst themselves and neighbors. It was a scene from out of a Lewis Carrol novel, sunny rays penetrating a woods backdrop with dancing woodland animals hopping around to the delicate strings of Dixon’s Violin.
Before the sun set on Saturday you could hear the sounds of a faint live saxophone and see a crowd gathering in the top part of Sherwood Forest. It was none other than final closer of Sherwood Court for Electric Forest 2016, and head of the funkified All Good Records, GRiZ. He was strolling along Electric Forest with a few members in tow all with live instruments. People soon caught notice and eventually a massive mob surrounded GRiZ and the gang as they played a marching ensemble along to their mini-parade through the Sherwood Forest. It was an unexpected introduction to the All Good Records Jam on the Observatory Stage featuring GRiZ, The Floozies, Manic Focus, and SunSquabi.
Up at the Sherwood Court Gorgon City had the stage to themselves for an hour plus set in a rare live performance to welcome in Saturday night. The ensemble included both members of Gorgon City, Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott, on stage with the help of an added drummer and vocalist. Live snare and hi hat kicks could be heard to their most popular tracks like “Saving My Life” and “Ready For Your Love.” To see their heart touching vocal tracks performed and sung live brought over an overwhelming flood of emotions. The UK members stopped and thanked beautiful Michigan before playing their latest track “All Four Walls,” a newer track that has hardly made many live showings since it’s release.
If you couldn’t get enough of Gorgon City they also played a surprise DJ set, from 12-1 on The Forest Stage. This mysterious side stage held some of the most intimate sets of the festival. It was draped in darkness and cut off the beaten path away from the main hustle and bustle of the central trail. The actual stage of the Sherwood Forest, it allowed artists to go off the grid a little, both on a geographical and musical level. With a true b2b Gorgon City set on the decks together, they used this time to plunge the crowd into the weirder and darker side of the forest.
Saturday night brought arguably the biggest night of the entire festival. The group who’s been with this festival from its very first roots, The String Cheese Incident had the hub of Electric Forest 2016, Ranch Arena, to themselves for 3.5 hours. They date back to the original Rothbury Festival, and have played in every year since. Regardless if you’re more of a strict EDM fan, you should always find time to catch at least one of The String Cheese Incident’s set at some point. Fireworks shot above the amazing light production of Ranch Arena, turning the heads of the entire festival no matter where you found yourself. A moving tribute to both Prince and David Bowie combined with the cascading sparks from the top of Ranch Arena, it was a scene perfectly put together. This group has found just the right line of live jam band and slight electronic music influence to continue to be a highlight of Electric Forest festivals to come.
Following The String Cheese Incident on Saturday, the moment an alarmingly large amount of people go to Electric Forest had finally come. The newest resident of Electric Forest, Bassnectar, had his extended set in the Ranch Arena. To no surprise he gave one of the most incredible closing sets of the weekend. Having already been a stable of years past for Electric Forest festivals, it was finally time to make him a full time guest in the Sherwood Forest. Feeding off the energy and excitement of the new announcement and his Unlimited album he delivered a face melting performance. He entered with a trippy, psychadelic speech and staticky computer green visuals to match. Bassnectar played old classics such as “When I Grow Up” from his Cozza Frenzy album and many of his newest tracks like “Music Is The Drug” and “Paracosm.” The Ranch Arena crowd was so massive people were gathering well into the trees of Sherwood Forest and back into the vendor tents by the merchandise booth. The bassheads might’ve showed up early in the day to stake out the rail, but following Bassnectar’s set a combined cleanup effort had the stage dance floor looking spotless.
The fourth and final day had come and begin with a slight dampening of a passing by storm. The sun quickly took over the skies again and the Michigan heat took over like it had the previous three days. Campers had one last day and night to make the most out of Electric Forest 2016. Everyone was just as jubilant and friendly as morning one, trying to enjoy their last moments. Sunday evening carried easily some of the best current names in dance music with sets from Hayden James, Sunsquabi, Whilk & Misky, and Liquid Stranger.
Not only does Electric Forest provide great music, but the festival itself is a treasure with mounds of hidden gems. The best place to find these little surprises was Sherwood Forest. The art installations themselves can take up countless hours exploring and admiring, particularly lit up during the night. The colorful clouds and dripping lights are some of the best from year’s past, but new additions like the purple organ, that also served as a functional piano, were also big attractions.
Another fun activity to do within the Sherwood Forest is to check out the postcard station. You can send a post to anyone of your choosing, and it arrives roughly five months later. Choose some words of wisdom for your future-self or write something to a new friend who will be thrilled to hear from you. While at the post station The Nocturnal Times actually got the chance to witness a live scavenger hunt for a mysterious trophy pin. Upon further investigation it was discovered a complex scavenger hunt was occurring right within the Electric Forest festival. Right inside the post office stand if you looked down on the bottom left part of the outside wall you’d see an mistakable tiny framed door with handle that kept the secret to the next clue spot. Only in Electric Forest can you see such random adventures occurring.
Following the trend of the day, the industry’s youngest and brightest producers were spinning well into the dawn sets. Louis The Child made its first Electric Forest appearance at the Tripolee stage. Louis The Child has really launched itself this year and has made quite the following, a sizable crowd piled in to see the Chicago group perform. Certainly one of the most energetic sets of the weekend you had the crew jumping off the stage in sync with future bass drops. Their Mike Snow remix of “Ghengis Khan” got everyone in the light hearted mood before dropping one of the best feel good songs ever, Lane 8’s “Bloom” remix. As an added bonus they even brought on friend Cherub to perform his hit song “Doses & Mimosas.” Louis The Child’s latest track, posted to soundcloud this past month “Weekend,” made a live debut as well. To wrap up the set they played none other than “It’s Strange” for all of the crowd to sing along to.
One of the last performers on the Triploee stage was the sensational Tchami. Himself and his label, Confessions, have been causing quite the stir this year and was a name heard around campsites as one of the last few artists to catch. His grimey French house takeover has brought a new sound to the music industry and many artists are playing it themselves in their own sets. The man dressed as a priest brought the dirty house beats to the Rothbury crowd and brought Tripolee down for one of the final sets of Electric Forest 2016. After some tolling church bells, he played his remix to the familiar Aluna George track “You Know You Like It.” Playing well after the midnight mark, Tchami had the whole crowd moving with tracks like “Sweet Shop” the Moski Switch Up and “Look At Me” by Movenchy. The French ambassador of new age house music represented his countrymen proud that night.
To close out the entirety of Electric Forest 2016, the spot to be was at Sherwood Court. This year’s hero of Electric Forest, GRiZ, was the last and final act of Electric Forest playing from 12:15 to 1:45. Although GRiZ has played at Electric Forest in the past, including his Grizmatik set in 2013, this year’s closing spot on the Sherwood Court set him up for an unprecedented performance. His following has even gone as far as starting a petition to close out Electric Forest for this year’s festival, and it was granted. His live saxophone blared from speakers as he was standing in a the front of the black stage with two meek lights shining on him. GRiZ and the team put down a well rehearsed jazzy and sultry introduction before kicking into his latest track with Big Gigantic “Good Times Roll.” He took the crowd through waves of slowed down jam sessions and wobbly bass ridden funk during his set. The Make America Griz Again campaign played their own rendition to the Edwin Starr classic “War” and had the young crowd shouting along. To finish off the set GRiZ brought on vocalist iDA HAWK to perform the hit song “Stop Trippin'” live. With GRiZ having such a huge Electric Foreset 2016, that very track and live performance were also the focal point of the official Electric Forest Thank You movie.
Thousands of people gathered for Electric Forest 2016 and reconnected in the only way possible via the Double JJ Ranch. The four night retreat in the natural beauty of summertime Rothbury, Michigan had been grounds to one of the most heartfelt communities in the dance music scene. People come to Electric Forest for various reasons, but all leave feeling with that new rejuvenated sense of an inspired self.
You can’t find the type of excitement and joy you see on the site of Electric Forest. From the campgrounds and their epic after parties, to the sacred home of the Sherwood Forest; Electric Forest is a festival like no other. Whether it’s answering the never ending old-school toll phone next to the Observatory or it’s catching GZA & Talib Kweli alongside a soulful live jazz ensemble at Jubilee, every moment was a treasure at Electric Forest 2016. Madison House Presents and Insomniac put together one of dance music’s biggest festivals of the year thus far, and are already working on more surprises for 2017.
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