Another year, another Electric Forest has come and gone. Another magical weekend of great music, magical adventures, things to explore around every corner shared with some of the best people in the world.
There is so much to do and see, it’s almost impossible to fit it all in four days. That being said, it took me what seemed like forever to figure out what my favorite part of this year’s forest was. After much deliberation and watching the videos I took three times over, I’ve finally widdled it down. Here are 24 highlights from Weekend Two of Electric Forest 2018…
Top 8 installations and attractions in Sherwood Forest
One of the new art installations we found while exploring the forest was the Cymatic Sandbox. What may seem like an ordinary display came to life with of the rest of the forest as the sunset. Situated on top of a rainbow-colored lightbox, festival-goers could take a minute to pause and energize their senses. Created by artist Jana Johnson, the installation was developed by combining the ancient meditative art form, Zen Gardens, and a series of color and vibrations to create a unique opportunity for forest friends to play, create and feel.
2. Ocular Organ
Another installation you could spend hours at, the Ocular Organ helped showcase musical talent amongst forest-goers. By taking a seat near the installation, you could watch audience members quickly become performers as they took a seat at the organ and played their hearts out. We were amazed with the amount of talent that arose from the artists that emerged from the crowd. Ranging from experienced players and composers to novice pianists, there was never a dull moment at the Ocular Organ.
3. The Interactive Maze and Tea Time
Ever since a mishap in a corn maze when I was a little kid (can you tell I’m from the Midwest?), I usually steer clear of mazes of all sorts. But stumbling across the interactive maze in the forest, I decided to give it another shot. Like many other attractions in the forest, I wasn’t disappointed. Winding paths led maze walkers through walls of paintings, sculptures, cubbies to hide in and interactive displays as they made their way through. About halfway into the exhibit, festival goers entered into a dimmed room where others were seated on the floor at long table and served tea by one of the maze guides. Continuing on, a steep staircase led to a balcony overlooking the maze to assist in finding the way out. Descending the stairs on the opposite side of the overlook, a multitude of mailboxes stuck in the wall stored notes from previous maze walkers. Meandering further, explorers soon reached a black curtain which released them out of the maze and back into the forest.
While walking through the forest through paths of wood chips and dust, there was suddenly a break in the earth. Seven glowing circles lit up the ground near the Forest Stage and drew many festival goers closer to investigate. Nearing the portals, lights began to dance around the circumference of each circle and quickly changed direction as you stepped onto it. Looking below felt as though you were being transported to another dimension, as the bottom of the portal could not be spotted and seemed infinite. This installation was definitely a hidden gem of Sherwood Forest this year.
5. The Silent Disco
One of my favorite parts of my very first Forest in 2017, the Silent Disco stayed a favorite after this year too. This quiet party is also my festie bestie’s all-time favorite attraction so we couldn’t miss it for the world. There is this weird sort of bond you can feel in the Silent Disco as you see who’s jamming to the same station you are by the light on other’s headphones. This year’s Silent Disco rocked below breathtaking studded sphere light up sculptures that matched the colors of the channels on the headphones. Silent Disco dancers could switch between DJ sets of all genres, stand up comedy acts and more. It the quietest party you’ll find in the forest.
The Grand Artique Trading Post is one of the staple attractions in Sherwood Forest. Rotary dial phones are found at the entrance of the Trading Post and beyond. Forest friends could pick up the phones and hold conversations with others not knowing (or caring) where they’re at. As festival-goers entered the structure, the bartering began. Trading and offer shouting echoed throughout the lower level of the Trading Post as sounds of live music began to fill the air at the tail end of the building. After coming out the back door, you could go right which would lead you through a screen door and up an old staircase until you reached a balcony above the Trading Post sign overlooking Sherwood Forest and all of its wonders. Going left would lead you to a small room where you could have your tarot cards read. Heading further around the building you could find a blackjack dealer eagerly awaiting his next players. In the middle of it all was the Grand Artique stage which was brought to life by DJ performances, live musicians and a talent show throughout the weekend.
7. The Hammocks by the Forest Stage
With all of the excitement, walking, things to see, do and experience sometimes you just gotta take a breather. One of the best places to sit back and relax in the venue is in one of the dozens of hammocks hung in Sherwood Forest. My personal favorite hammock spot is the area by the Forest Stage; close enough to hear the music but far enough away to make new friends with passers-by, find a rave bae or have heart-to-hearts with your forest squad. My favorite part about the hammocks is that they offer a time to pause, be mindful and truly appreciate the forest. It’s kind of hard not to when you feel weightless, cradled in the fabric, gently rocking back and forth as you look up into the trees of Sherwood Forest as they sway to and fro and change color to the music nearby. It’s an absolutely awe-inspiring experience that can bring out the feels in anyone. At one point in the hammocks, I looked over to my friend (experiencing her first forest) who was completely sobbing. Tears of joy and gratitude of course. I mean, if you don’t shed at least one tear of bliss in the forest, are you even doing it right?
8. The Luminaria
The Luminaria holds a very special place in my heart. For the past two years, my forest squad and I have stopped here to remember a close friend of ours we lost a couple years back. A somber, yet beautiful tribute to those who are no longer with us, this installation is another great place to pause and be mindful in the forest. Small white bags with decorative lettering containing tea light candles light up the pavilion and the shelves beyond it. Each bag displays a name or message for forest goers to read as they make their way through the pavilion and the fences surrounding it.
Top 8 attractions out of the Forest
1.The Carousel Club and the Hangar
One word, WHOA. I was completely blown away by the Carousel Club stage and overall atmosphere. The Hangar is one of my favorite places at Electric Forest because of its retro vibes and surprises around every corner. I didn’t think it could get any cooler than last year but (as usual) Electric Forest outdid themselves again! Those entering the Hangar are greeted by friendly faces selling candy and other sweet treats. The Hangar is lined with various rooms and activities that are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. The first stop on the right-hand side was the tattoo parlor where rambunctious drill sergeants and majorettes bustled around to give festival goers (temporary) tattoos. Continuing down the right side of the hanger, forest friends could wait their turn for a massage, browse a thrift store or play a game of pool, foosball even bowl with their rave squad in the Game Hall. Down the left side of the Hangar, men could take a quick stop into a barber shop for a trim, ladies could get their hair braided (or vise versa, there’s no gender norms in the forest). In the middle of the left side, a vintage living room was set up for a quick stop for a soda pop and old black and white TV shows. Toward the end, a long line wound through the corridor leading up to a doorway labeled “Time Travel.” The grand finale (and ultimate highlight of the Hangar) was what all of the wonderful attractions lead to… the Carousel Club. Bringing a golden era to life, the Carousel Club was decked floor to ceiling to look like a club straight out of the 40s/50s. Palm trees towered high around the entrance opening up to the dance floor, staggered platforms with cabaret dining seating. Disco balls shimmered bright sparkles around the room as the colossal chandelier hanging from the middle of the area tied the room together. To say this area of Electric Forest is magical is an understatement.
I was beyond stoked to see this new addition to the forest lineup this year. The Brainery (located on Mainstreet in the GA campgrounds) was home to artists, experts, meditations gurus and industry professionals sharing their trade with the rest of the forest family. Festival goers could attend workshops to learn about everything from how to build dreamcatchers, to make giant bubbles, to Bollywood dancing to perfecting DJ skills and beyond. My friends and I caught two super informative workshops during weekend two: Intro to Aromatherapy and Find Your Center with Pranayama. Both workshops were packed as people spilled out of the tent to listen to the speakers. My only suggestion to festival organizers for next year is to make this Brainery area bigger! So many people were interested in being a part of these awesome opportunities to learn and grow during their forest experience.
3.The 24-hour Cereal Bar
Another main attraction on Main Street aside from the dozens of food and clothing vendors was the cereal bar. One of my favorite parts about Electric Forest is that it makes me feel like a little kid again on this giant playground. The cereal bar had a large variety of kids cereals to choose from where customers could deck their bowl out with candy toppings or even add a scoop of ice cream. The tent itself had an old tv with nonstop cartoons playing. At night a projector played toons on the side of the tent. What better way to truly feel like I’m a kid again other than sitting on an old armchair, watching cartoons while eating a bowl of Lucky Charms?
4. RV After Parties on the Campgrounds
Amazing performances could be found all around the Electric Forest venue but didn’t stop when festival-goers exited the main gates at night. Several busses at the RV campground held wild parties that went on (quite literally) until the sun came up. Not only did these busses host some of the rowdiest after parties, but many of them threw pre-parties on Wednesday night before official forest festivities began. The busses were decked out with LED lights, viewing areas for event organizers and (of course) the DJ booths either inside or on top of the bus.
EVOL Afters (hosted by EVOL Chicago) brought many a couple hometown and local DJs aboard to perform as well as a couple EF lineup members including Cherub, GoodSex, Golf Clap. Special guest Subtronics made an appearance for a 3 a.m. set Sunday morning, drawing hundreds of riddim kids to the RV park.
Panky Rang Productions (of Detroit) brought the vibes with performances from over a dozen artists (some featured on the EF lineup too) including SQUNTO, Bvss Fvce and Corrupt . Torganizersers even hosted a special mau5trap event on Saturday with special guests ATTLAS, Black Gummy, HEYZ and Rizen.
The Struggle Bus turned their part of the RV campgrounds into an ongoing dubstep rager (with a hint of Hip Hop and Indie EDM) during the second weekend of Electric Forest. They hosted performances by The Dropout, Mister, Bob Lemon Benner & Feyto and more. SQUNTO and Boogie T made their way from the mainstages to the Struggle bus to perform on Thursday an Friday nights.
5. The New and Improved Jubilee Stage
I had seen photos and videos from weekend one of a couple artists playing at a stage that I didn’t recognize. While exploring the forest with my squad myself weekend two we discovered that stage was Jubilee; and it had a majestic face-life from the year prior. Adorned with the signature Electric Forest upside-down umbrellas, shimmering silver ribbons that hung from the ceiling encompassing the stage and a booming sound system this year’s Jubilee Stage was brought to life by artists from a multitude of music genres. Stand out performances on Jubilee included the Russ Liquid Test on Thursday night, Emancipator on Friday, Elohim and LUZCID on Saturday. The tent was closed out on Sunday by Karl D’s Acid Jazz Drop featuring performances from jazz act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Corey Frye from funk band The Main Squeeze, former member of Jurassic 5 Cut Chemist, vocalist Jennifer Hartswick and trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman of Phish’s Trey Anastasio Band and reggae vocalist Matisyahu.
6. To Write Love on Her Arms booth
My squad and I found this booth last year in the Forest and were excited to see it return for 2018. To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.” Having lost a couple close friends to mental illnesses and having a couple myself, I love seeing this group available at Electric Forest for festival-goers to talk to its members in a safe environment. Each year the booth features a wall of encouraging messages and experience where attendees are encouraged to leave a message and take a message. It’s a beautiful way to show those that are hurting that they are not alone and there is hope.
I’m a headbanger by nature so seeing this curated event had me all sorts of amped for Friday of weekend two. We were all a bit disappointed to hear that due to travel issues, Spag Heddy wasn’t going to make it, but that was quickly made up for when it was announced that Boogie T and SQUNTO would be taking over the decks instead. Their solo sets followed by an epic B2B set were definitely a highlight of the weekend. The stage was rocked by other big names including CloZee, Netsky, Jauz (see below for more on these three), Boombox Cartel, Calyx & Teebee, Mersiv, Quix and a mind-melting B2B with G Jones and Eprom. These two are notorious for throwing down some of the weirdest beats out there that are sure to make you question what universe you’re in. You could feel the earth shake beneath your feet during several of their tracks including “Humanoid Must Not Escape” that left the whole crowd in utter disbelief. Another win for Bassrush and headbangers at the forest for sure.
8. Camp Traction and the Jellyfish Tent
A little-known gem of Electric Forest is the place I have called home for the past couple years on weekend two. Camp Traction, situated back by the Chameleon POD on Mushroom Street, is a safe haven for festival-goers who wish to experience their forest without the use of drugs or alcohol. Likewise, the Jellyfish (clean and sober followers of the String Cheese Incident) set up their booth right outside of the Ranch Arena to offer a space to those who wish to abstain. To others, this may not seem like a huge deal but to me, it’s everything. Nothing beats having access to four meetings each day of the festival and a bunch of friendly faces to turn to for support.
Top 8 performances of Weekend Two
1. Space Jesus
Despite being at two other festivals Space Jesus has played at, I had yet to see a full set of his. This one being one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend for me, he definitely didn’t disappoint. Playing a full set of bangin free form bass music, he mixed several of his dope fan favorite tracks into his most recent WAKAAN masterpieces; composing on of the most mind-melting sets of the weekend Space Jesus took the Sherwood Court bystanders into a whole different universe Friday night of weekend two.
An insider source told me that SQUNTO had been working tirelessly to create one of the rowdiest Mega Chop sets headbangers had ever seen for forest…. and that’s EXACTLY what he did. I have yet to witness and SQUNTO set that doesn’t leave me screaming and sweating until my legs and neck are weak. The forest Mega Chop set had a surprise in almost every single drop, featuring some of SQUNTOs best work mixed with some of the hottest and heaviest tracks in dubstep. As usual, he brought his Mega Chop cam with him onstage so fans could see him mix it up and throw it down live from the decks. Bravo, Dragon Master on another dope performance.
Another old favorite of mine, I was eagerly anticipating what Netsky would have in store for weekend two of Forest. My squad and I decided to catch part of Netsky’s set from the Ferris wheel and it was probably one of the best choices we made all weekend. His set was stunning to catch from the ground but from several stories up in the air? Indescribable. The lights and stage production mixed with the booming sounds of Netsky originals and remixes to various chart-topping EDM tunes from recent years and all the way back to 2010 created this dope experience that I’ll never forget.
Probably one of the more high energy sets of the weekend, Jauz absolutely threw down to close on the Tripolee stage on Friday night. I had high hopes for this set and it exceeded all of my expectations. In preparation to drop a new album in the near future, Jauz brought the heat dropping heavy renditions of his own compositions plus other popular dubstep hard-hitting tracks. The lasers and wild stage production at Tripolee helped bring his set to life, making the perfect finale to the Bassrush curated event.
I was beyond stoked to see the Glitch Mob on the EF lineup back in December and even more excited after the release of their newest album “See Without Eyes” a couple months ago. I used to vibe out for hours to their albums back in college and seeing them live just brought out all of the feels. Their sound is so ethereal yet dark and absolutely amazing to witness live. Their performance featured tracks from the newest album plus plenty of their previous masterpieces like Fortune Days, We Can Make the World Stop and We Swarm. Watching the Sherwood Court stage production become more vibrant and powerful as the sun went down during their set made it ten times more magical.
6. GRiZ Live Band
After an enigmatic post on social media back in February and subsequent months of silence, many forest goers made it a priority to make their way to the Ranch Arena for the GRiZ Live Band. The Michigan native took center stage with an array of musicians including lead guitarist Muzzy Bear and a special guest appearance by ProbCause. The performance was a lively mix of old classics with a couple more recent tunes sprinkled in. Toward the end of the hour and a half jam sesh, GRiZ encouraged the crowd to show love and spread love before closing out with the 1969 classic “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” Did this just signify the end of the set? Or possibly hinting that the Live Band’s performances are numbered? We’ll all have to stay tuned for the answer to that one…
7. Boogie T.rio
Months prior to Forest, notorious riddim producer and guitarist Boogie T announced that his new band would play their debut performance weekend two. Boogie T.rio, consisting of Frank “Animal Drums” Castro on drums, Andriu Yanovski on keys and of course Brock himself on guitar and vocals, was set to play Sherwood Court on Sunday night just before the storm rolled in. But the Trio didn’t let a little rain dampen their big moment. Their set was a brilliant rendition of the Trio’s fresh new tracks (from their new EP released the week prior) blues, jazz, reggae and a couple of Boogie T’s dubstep tracks turned rock n’ roll with that good ole Louisiana Southern flair. Accompanied by a colorful display of visuals by illustrator Koož, this set truly showcased the depth of these three artists musical talents. I absolutely cannot wait to see/hear more of Boogie T.rio going forward. They got a good thing going here y’all, not to be slept on.
For his ten year anniversary at forest, I had a feeling Lorin was about to do somethin real big for this performance. And man he did the damn thing. Opening up with his remix of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” Nectar got the whole crowd hyped as he started to transition into his remix of Paper Diamond’s “They Can’t Tell Me Nothin.” That hype didn’t die down the entire hour and a half long set as he dropped tons of fan favorites including Hot Right Now, Voodoo, Vava Voom (transitioned into the tune of Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow might I add), Hold On, Nothing Has Been Broken and of course the blaring sirens that signaled it was time for one of his newest tracks, Slather. I could probably go on but it’s hard to hear a lot of the videos I took due to my friends and I screaming with excitement every other drop. And what would a Bassnectar set be without the insane laser show he brings along with him? The whole set was absolutely magical as fans threw glow sticks into the air at every big drop, sung along to favorites and danced until early Monday morning.
There are not many negative things to say about the weekend: the lineup, setup, necessities, camping and people were all amazing. The only downsides of this year were the constant battles with the weather. Temperatures shot into the 80s and 90s several days of the festival, making it difficult to get out and explore during the day. Sunday brought a colossal thunderstorm that shut down the entire venue for about an hour, forcing festival-goers to retreat to their cars for shelter. Unfortunately, a number of people weren’t able to make it back into the venue Sunday night for closing performances due to long lines at the gate.
Needless to say, Electric Forest 2018 was yet another breath-taking experience with surprises around every corner. Each year it seems to get better and better. Cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2019. Until then…
Happy Forest fam!