Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Electric Forest 2023

Each year, tens of thousands of people descend upon Rothbury, Michigan for Electric Forest. Crowds travel from far and wide, attracted by the festival’s diverse lineup, magical art installations, and immersive experiences.

Electric Forest’s attention to detail and well-crafted stories connect people from all walks of life to a childlike sense of wonderment.

This is an event that’s all about tuning out the rest of the world and tuning in to the natural, arboreal surroundings of Sherwood Forest, full of exciting secrets around every corner. There is so much to explore. 

Read below for EDM Maniac’s full report on Electric Forest 2023.

Vibes: A-

A pinnacle of the Electric Forest experience each year is the welcoming and inclusive attitude of its gung-ho party-goers.

We are always charmed by the kindness and openness of the Forest Family and 2023 was no different. Attendees do so much to carry the magic of the forest beyond just the physical senses.

We talked with ravers from across the country, young and old. From trading kandi, to the dozens of small sentimental gifts we received, we felt truly welcomed and supported. 

The massiveness and scale of this festival can be a bit overwhelming at times and Electric Forest 2023 clearly welcomed a greater number of attendees compared to years past, adding a bit more chaotic energy to the weekend.

We met far more first-year forest-goers this time; proof that Electric Forest is a must for newbies and experienced pros alike.

Navigating the crowds through the trees, lights, and sounds of the forest is not for the faint of heart, but those willing to truly let go and allow the forest to be their guide are rewarded.

The unhinged partying that happens at Electric Forest can be a little bit jarring, but overall we felt that it didn’t inhibit us from having fun.

Production: B+

We were super excited to see that Electric Forest made some serious changes to a number of its stages, most notably, the Tripolee stage and Ranch Arena. 

Ranch Arena featured new LED screens that wowed us while still remaining true to the style and aesthetic of years past. The fireworks shows at Ranch were second to none, lighting up the night sky during each headline performance.

A major overhaul of the Tripolee stage was welcome, with a new design that allowed for 3D projection mapping to cover the structure at night. Of course, the lasers were on point all weekend long.

Complaints about sound were relatively minimal, although for a second year in a row, the sound at Tripolee during the Bassrush takeover was way too quiet.

There is no reason we should be able to hold a conversation during Ganja White Night without screaming at the top of our lungs. 

We also found that the volume at The Observatory was too low for much of the Foreign Family Collective takeover.

Music: A

It is no secret that Electric Forest brings some of the best talent from the world of EDM and beyond. Every act on the bill pulled out all the stops to produce unique performances.

We were extremely impressed by ODESZA, who shined on opening night and unloaded one of the most furious fireworks displays we’ve ever seen at a festival.

We also enjoyed wobbling the night away with Ganja White Night and watching ILLENIUM shred some live guitar. 

We couldn’t help but laugh when Chris Lake shouted out “I f***king love America,” and Zeds Dead made the claim that Electric Forest “might be the best festival in the world,” even hanging around an extra day to close out the festival’s famous renegade after parties. 

Venue: B+

Regardless of who is on the Electric Forest lineup, its incredibly immersive venue would likely still draw crowds in droves to engage with the many amazing art installations, immersive experiences, and chill zones – perfect for swinging in a hammock beneath Sherwood Forest’s massive trees.

Even if you had missed every single set, there was still so much to do. A big reason why people keep coming back year after year.

Electric Forest’s massive Dream Emporium activation took us on a trip to fantastical worlds, equipped with everything from a yacht and float pond, to a boxing ring and more. It was amazing to interact with the character actors who truly lived their roles during their time in the forest.

The main venue layout can be difficult to navigate. Set up in an almost boomerang-shaped line from one end to the other, walk times between the two largest stages were at least 15 minutes during peak crowd times.

Couple that with trekking through the maze of lights and color that is Sherwood Forest and you have no choice but to get lost. You have to discover everything on your own, and that is special in its own right.

While food and drinks were certainly expensive—a commonality among nearly every American festival we’ve covered—we were happy with portion sizes and food selection. There were plenty of options for those with dietary restrictions.

Although despite how expensive much of the food and drinks were, bottled water was only $1. We cannot stress this enough: this should be the standard.

In the wake of the shooting at Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge campgrounds, Electric Forest stated that they would be adding new safety and security measures. They delivered on this promise and we felt safe inside the venue all weekend. 

Security checks were adequate with metal detectors, and firearm K-9 units in use throughout. A strong but friendly and helpful police presence has become a staple of Electric Forest and we were glad to see that this continued for another year. 

Medical services were easy to access and widely available, however, we received multiple reports of mistreatment by the medical staff.

More than once we were told by attendees that the med staff had sent them on their way with IV ports still in their arms: a serious no-no, especially when spending time out in the dust and dirt of the Michigan woods.

Overall: A-

Overall, Electric Forest 2023 met, if not exceeded, the standards set by previous editions of this hallmark event. 

With one of the biggest and most diverse festival lineups on offer this summer, all we needed was for organizers to execute the event successfully for it to be a smashing success—and they certainly did. 

On paper, Electric Forest checked all of the boxes, once again confirming why it is truly a best-of-the-best fest. 

We couldn’t be more excited to return next year and explore even more.

All images provided by Electric Forest. Credit: Alive Coverage.

Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University who loves beeps and boops!

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