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Festival Report Card: Electric Forest 2024

Electric Forest
Photo by Alive Coverage for Electric Forest.

Every June, tens of thousands of music fans flock to Rothbury, Michigan for the Midwest’s premier camping festival, Electric Forest

Attracted by its arboreal setting, immersive art installations, and diverse lineup of musical talent, various sects of the festival community, from heady jam band fans to shuffling house heads, come together for four days of music, art, and partying in the woods.

This year’s sold-out 12th edition, which returned from June 20-23, 2024, brought venue evacuations and cancellations due to severe weather, and left more than a few attendees soaked. But it also brought cherished new memories and monumental music moments, and left our hearts as full as ever.

Read EDM Maniac’s full report on Electric Forest 2024 below.

Electric Forest
Photo by Alive Coverage for Electric Forest.

Vibes: A+

Upon our arrival at Electric Forest, we were immediately greeted with warmth and kindness from our fellow Forest Family. Premium vibes and inclusivity have long been the festival’s calling card, and even as the event seems to swell in size year after year, Electric Forest once again delivered quite possibly the best sense of community on offer at a U.S. festival.

Glancing around the crowd on day one, we were reminded that Electric Forest attracts a majority veteran crowd—and why that’s special.

Not only are returning attendees a testament to the magic of Electric Forest on its own—many have made the trip back upwards of six, seven, and eight times—but they also help keep the magic alive.

Whether it’s experienced pros sharing wisdom with newcomers, or rookies caught up in the revelry, everyone puts extra special care and attention into the weekend. As a result, everyone is collectively rewarded.

Expertly built totems and flawless costumes captured our imaginations, small gifts and kind words made us smile, and neighborly help, like sharing supplies at camp and offering shelter from the storm, kept us (relatively) dry throughout the weekend.

When pouring rain and lightning forced a venue closure on Saturday, the vibes remained high as attendees moved the party to their tents. Feeble attempts to find “Carl” while orderly shuffling back to camp soon became howls at the moon. Impromptu raves popped up around the campground, meeting the intensity of the storm with an unbreakable party spirit.

When organizers confirmed that the venue would reopen, a festival-classic roar of excitement rose up from the sea of tents and cars—cue adrenaline rush.

People certainly party hard at Electric Forest, but we found the crowd to be overwhelmingly respectful and responsible. We were also delighted to see that cellphone use was kept to a minimum, as fans tuned out of the social media-verse and into their place in the community.

Electric Forest
Photo by Alive Coverage for Electric Forest.

Production: B+

Electric Forest features one of the most artfully crafted and detail-oriented production packages in the scene. It may not have the sheer lasers of Excision’s Lost Lands or the towering stages of EDC Las Vegas, but that’s not really what Forest is about.

Instead, true to its name, Electric Forest’s production is tailored to the ethos of the festival, complimenting the natural environment with tasteful lighting and lasers.

There were minimal changes to Electric Forest’s eight total stages this year, but no complaints. Ranch Arena was updated with a cool green patina, and Tripolee’s facade featured inflatable dragons for a uniquely medieval vibe adorned with 3D projection mapping.

Shooting lasers through the trees, the Observatory expectedly delivered on the party in the woods vibe; Fireworks shows during headline sets—when they happened—lit up the night sky; Dom Dolla and John Summit’s Everything Always show featured a delightfully dizzying assault of strobe lights; and the soft floodlights during Ben Böhmer were nothing short of cinematic.

We loved the Honeycomb stage too, for its intimate 360-degree experience, and it was great to see artists like Levity—back at the stage where they filled in last year—and Westend get their flowers in some of the weekend’s most packed daylight sets.

Complaints about sound bleed and volume were minimal. Sound issues reported at Tripolee in 2023 seemed to be resolved at this year’s edition.

Electric Forest
Photo by Alive Coverage for Electric Forest.

Music: B

Electric Forest’s lineup always packs a punch, inviting an eclectic blend of leading musical talent across a myriad of genres, including dance music, jam, indie, pop, alternative, hip-hop and more. Unfortunately, the festival’s musical programming was most impacted by severe weather.

House vibes were set on opening night by the likes of Green Velvet, Cassian, and more. CloZee’s Odyzey Music takeover at the Observatory—including a surprise performance from the label head—excited bass fans. Meanwhile, house heads grooved to Everything Always, and Knock2 delivered an electrifying debut festival headline performance.

Insomniac’s Bassrush takeover at Tripolee on Friday saw bassheads dub, wub, and skank their way to nightfall with artists like Caspa, Boogie T and Dimension before ATLiens, Wooli and Black Tiger Sex Machine ended the night with a bang.

Friday also saw Pretty Lights deliver a dazzling performance with skydivers in the band’s first appearance at Electric Forest since 2013, and in-demand techno player Layton Giordani burned the house down at an intimate gathering of the festival’s small but mighty genre cohort.

About five hours of music was canceled on Saturday night, but the festival’s headliners and direct support returned at 12AM, as attendees made a mad dash through the venue to catch their favorite artists, including Sammy Virji, Mau P, Subtronics, and the premiere of LSZEE (LSDREAM B2B CloZee), among others.

A second weather evacuation on Sunday seemed to sting more. Though fans still caught big sets from Gigantic NGHTMRE, Odd Mob & OMNOM, and Chase & Status, they missed out on headliners like Excision, Charlotte de Witte, and Sara Landry, who had been moved to Sunday after her Saturday set was canceled.

If not for the weather, the dynamic musical curation of Electric Forest would have shined even brighter.

Electric Forest
Photo by Alive Coverage for Electric Forest.

Venue: A

Electric Forest’s venue, an over 2,000-acre plot on the site of Rothbury’s Double JJ Resort, is a star of the show in its own right. 

Well-sized for the event’s estimated 50,00 attendees, its three main stages offer a large-scale festival atmosphere, while more intimate performances, stunning art installations, costumed performers, immersive activations and chill zones lie around every corner of the Sherwood Forest. 

Though sometimes tricky to navigate, the dense stretch of nearly 70-year-old lodgepole pine trees in the center of the venue becomes a maze of light and color at night. You have no choice but to get lost once or twice, and that’s a good thing.

The festival’s huge Dream Emporium activation was once again a highlight, housing unique experiences from paddle boats to pro-wrestling matches, and the festival’s famous scavenger hunt. 

Electric Forest’s non-musical programming includes panel discussions, arts and crafts, weddings and much more. LSDREAM’s LIGHTCODE meditation was another meaningful addition. There’s simply so much to do.

Food and drinks in the venue were certainly expensive—common ground among major festivals these days—but the event does offer a variety of food options, and even locally curated menus. Free water stations were easily accessible and canned water was sold for $2.

Medical services were also easy to access, and security checks were on par with what we’ve experienced at most legacy festivals, with metal detectors and firearm K-9 units.

Operationally speaking, there was a strange bottleneck at the venue exit on night one, which was quickly corrected the following days. Borderline-blinding light towers throughout the campground were also replaced by night two.

The festival’s famous renegade afterparties were shuddered on Saturday due to expectedly large and potentially dangerous crowds. Unfortunately, dense crowds at the renegades that did happen on Sunday made it difficult for medical teams to access collapsed patrons, leading to the show’s early shutdown in compliance with safety policies.

Electric Forest
Photo by Alive Coverage for Electric Forest.

Overall: A

Electric Forest blew us away again in 2024, meeting, if not exceeding, standards set in previous editions. Festivals rarely go off without a hitch, and if not for the stormy weather and a few resulting safety concerns, this one might have.

Our time in the oft-quoted “rainforest” was filled with connection with fellow music fans, first-timers and repeat attendees alike. When forced to battle the elements, the festival community really shined. So many come back year after year, no matter the lineup, and it’s clear why: the energy of the Forest Family makes it a can’t-miss.

Find EDM Maniac‘s full Festival Report Card archive here.

Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University with a passion for culture and fat basslines.

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