I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head for some time about the wide-eyed sense of wonder and curiosity that we’re born with, that drives us to want to discover more about the world around us and how it works. And for most of us, one day, that sense of wonder is dashed by the pursuit of cool. Somewhere along the way, we learn that it’s better not to react, to seem unimpressed by everything, even if it’s actually impressive. We become skeptical and sarcastic in place of curiosity and amazement. In that way, we also become less honest.
I don’t know where the idea that cool = unimpressed started, but I wish it wouldn’t have because it feels impossible to come back from.
Case in point: I learned that the mass of all of the objects in the asteroid belt put together amount to a mass 4% the size of our moon and I was blown away. I couldn’t believe how wrong I’d been in my assumptions as well as how misleading all of the drawings/renderings of the solar system were. A couple weeks later, my partner comes across the same piece of trivia and shares my same reaction, I play it off like it’s no big deal. I think I said, “Cool, huh.” But like a sentence, not a question. It’s something I’ve done thousands of times and that I’ve been on the receiving end of equally as much.
It’s a caustic, awful way to experience life, to be treated, and to treat others. It’s also something I get lost in when talking about Electric Forest. I’ve been to every EF since its inception in 2011 and it seems I’ve taken much of it for granted.
I see questions from people on the EF sub from newbies stoked about their first Forest and my reaction is typically, “Yup, it’s cool.” Dismissive where somebody is looking for encouragement. It’s toxic.
So what’s the solution to this affliction of apathy? Where do I get the antivenom? The secret may lie in our past, in our child selves, buried under the muck time and negative experiences. To go forward, we must first go back.
What helped me figure this out is also a key to regaining that sense of wonder. It was my dog’s trainer that opened my eyes. It was Craig, who is amazed at everything, no matter how seemingly trivial, no matter if it makes him look simple or inexperienced, and whose head nearly exploded when I told him about EF.
So what does Craig know/do that I don’t? From what I’ve gathered in talking to Craig, there are few key factors driving this:
- Honesty is paramount. Craig’s mantra is, “Don’t fucking lie.” When you act like something that is a big deal isn’t big, you are pretending, which is a fancy word for lying. You aren’t presenting your true self to the world. At best, you are watered down.
- No shame. Shame is the voice that tells you to hold back, to consider what everybody else around you thinks about you, and urges you not to ask a question because you might sound dumb. Shame shapes you into a lesser, dulled, watered-down version of yourself. Living your life according to shame’s rules is living your life in fear, and that’s not actually living.
- Vulnerability is an asset, not a weakness. Everybody is vulnerable, everybody feels vulnerable, but it’s hidden away as if it doesn’t exist. Well, it does, and it is a good thing. Don’t expect to overcome this one quickly. It requires practice, mindfulness, and constant awareness to embrace vulnerability, but if you can manage that, the world will open up to and for you, as will the people around you.
- Be present. Pay attention, make and maintain eye contact, actively listen, and show up entirely for the people you interact with, whether they be family, long-time friends, or complete strangers you just met in a Forest in Michigan. Show you care by showing up.
Cannonball into new experiences, ask lots of questions, even and especially if they seem obvious. Don’t sit in the back. Make eye contact. Smile. Dance. Laugh.
Those are the makings of a pretty solid and whole experience, aren’t they? Imagine a Forest teeming with like-minded people bouncing around following the same guidelines? That’d be pretty incredible, right? Well, it could be and it all starts with you. And me.
We at ElectroJams like to help you sort through the lineup for a few solid options to consider for your schedules, but the lists we provide are by no means exhaustive. A person can only do so much, so we tailor it to a more bite-sized list instead. If I can offer a piece of advice on planning: Feel free to mark everything you want to do or see at the Forest, but do not expect that to match up with what you’re actually going to do and see at the Forest. You are but one person and you can only do so much. Sherwood Court and Tripolee are far away from each other. You cannot just hop back and forth. You will get lost in the Forest along the way, or you will encounter some kind of distraction, a massive backup at the porto’s, or a group of people building a kind of mandala with little scraps of trees and Forest detritus. Your plan will be torpedoed, so it’s best that you expect it going in, so when it does happen, you can just laugh and roll with it. Roll on, little rollers…
The boys of Galantis are back for the first time since their inaugural set in 2015 and with a much more friendly set time that doesn’t have them competing with the nefarious “Security Line of 2015” that held some Foresters up for up to three hours.
They’re a great love-centric, high-energy experience and a perfect opportunity to dance your concerns away. (Gold Dust Mix)
If you like dark, moody techno, then you need to plant yourself in front of Nicole Moudaber for the entire duration of her set. She’ll have you in the palm of her hand and you’ll never want her to let you go. (Set from Lightning in a Bottle)
Just take a listen to “Feel It All Around” and imagine a sun-soaked set, drifting from heel to heel, the breeze on your face, a perfect soundtrack to the Forest. You can’t not go to their set if you’re attending W1. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal, or at the very least, extremely frowned upon. (NTS Mix)
Party up with a combination of lo-fi feels, hip-hop, and house that is a Hotel Garuda set. It’ll be rowdy and so will you. (Dancing on the Moon Tour Mix)
Get close up to the front of this show if you can, where you’ll be able to see Green Velvet actually sing/talk-sing into a pair of headphones. It’s wacky, but the effect is great. He’s also got quite the cast of folks joining him for his “LA LA LAND” takeover of Tripolee on Thursday. Maybe just post up there all day? (Green Velvet at EDC Las Vegas 2017)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED)
King of the feels who’s been relatively quiet for a bit as he (hopefully) completes work on a new album. As such, I’m sure much of his set will consist of him trying out some of the new tracks in a live setting. Given his track record, you can probably guarantee that you’ll be dancing even as your eyes are welling up because you don’t know what to do with all of the feels. Just go with it. (T-E-E-D Forever Mix)
Is: Dirtybird label signee, superior party machine, had a breakout year in 2017 and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down in 2018. If you hate fun, then you’ll hate Fisher. And the Forest. But maybe taken together they might change your mind? (Fisher Triple J Mix-Up)
Think Deadmau5, but technoeyer, less BS and no helmet. Everything cool about his sets with Eric Prydz, but just Joel doing what he does best. (Testpilot Mix for BBC Radio 1)
We got really, really close to having a Get Real set in 2016 when Green Velvet and Claude played successive sets at Tripolee, but those dreams were quickly dashed when GV took his tuft offstage after a hug and a handshake with the Dirtybird label boss.
So dreams do come true! Sometimes they just take a little time to steep, I guess. (Get Real set at EDC Las Vegas)
Desert Hearts is less a set of musical performers and more like an endless roving party making its way throughout the world, elevating and delighting all in its wake. They’ll be taking over over the Forest Stage on Saturday with a daylong series of b2b’s featuring the usual cast and then some. If you want a hint of what’s in store, just take a look at this clip from their set at Lightning in a Bottle and tell me you don’t want to hop on that train.
(Desert Hearts Closing Set at Desert Hearts 2018)
Costumes, shenanigans, conceptual programming, heartfelt lyrics paired with the 4/4 rhythm of House, it’s a wonder it took so long for Claptone to come to the Forest. Sparks will fly, hands will raise, and love will flow freely throughout. Protip: Show up early to snag yourself a golden bird mask.
Words of advice if you’re planning on catching Elderbrook: Get. There. Early. The security line to enter the festival is notoriously terrible and you don’t want to be locked out in line like many people did for Galantis in 2015. The soothing singer will no doubt provide a gentle liftoff to this year’s festivities. Be there or be…not in line. (Talking EP Mix)
She’s got pipes, she’s got sultry dance moves, she’s got a bundle of good tunes under her belt. Bishop Briggs is the whole package. Briggs’ music defies categorization, often spanning several genres at any given moment, similar to the way that EF brings fans of bluegrass and fans of dubstep together to share the same space. She’s neither of those genres, but you get the idea. If you don’t, I’d encourage penciling her in on your schedule. (Live on Jimmy Kimmel)
Lane 8 is one of those producers that makes perfect sense at Electric Forest. When taken together, they feel like a glove. His series of “This Never Happened” tour dates with a strict no-phones policy have been wildly successful in an age where phones have become a regular and common part of the concert landscape, in many ways for the worst. Try it sometime and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Do it with a whole crew of people and it can tranform a set completely. (Summer 2018 Mix)
Rufus du Sol
The Australian trio’s last appearance at the Forest clearly left a good impression on them, where they played a set at Sherwood, played DJ at Grand Artique, then played dodgeball the next day also at Grand Artique. It seems the feeling is mutual as well, seeing as they’re taking over the Forest stage for a curated day to play with their friends.
The duo/trio of Marian Hill played to a delighted, though not packed crowd at Jubilee in 2016, but I have a feeling that their appearance this go-round (on the same stage to boot) will elicit more of a Lindsey Stirling nightmare-sized crowd, so be sure to get there early.
Join the boys and their Blade 2.0 spaceship control console on a journey through the dark depths of humanity. Fresh on the heels of their recent album release, See Without Eyes, the guys will hit the Forest at full steam. Based on their socials, it looks like they are just as stoked to get back to the Forest as the rest of us are. They don’t have a half-assed mode, so expect a heavy-hitting show full of Neo-like “Whoa” moments and ground-shaking bass. (The Glitch Mob live at Lab LA)
Somebody at an MK show put it best: An MK set is a highly spiritual experience and ellicits a kind of participation usually reseved for church. MK plays Gospel House sets. (Live at Dirtybird Campout East)
I’m going to use the word maestro to describe Simon Green, aka Bonobo because it absolutely fits. Everything that comes from him feels refined, exact, intentional. His sets move in a similar way from song to song, weaving a fabric spanning his set that makes you feel like you’ve traveled thousands of miles, or even through time and space, without moving any more than you do when you’re dancing. It’s a serene experience that you won’t soon forget. (Bonobo Mixmag Cover Mix)
Some day I’m going to regret saying this, but if Dirtybird and Thomas Jack had a baby, it would probably sound a lot like Justin Jay. Great music for grinning ear-to-ear while dancing with your friends and hoping it never ends. Kinda works for the Forest in general, doesn’t it? (Justin Jay live at Lab LA)
CloZee is the new hot in festival sets. I’m not sure why yet, since I’ve missed her twice now (Oregon Eclipse: She had to cancel last minute / LiB: I think I disappeared from existence briefly?), but everybody I’ve talked to or read have all lavished her with praise. Wouldn’t you like to be one of those people, too? (CloZee Oregon Eclipse Mix)
What would it sound like if Hood Internet started self-sourcing their production rather than pulling in exclusively from samples, which served as the backing for a hip-hop act rather than setting themselves at center stage? I would imagine that that would sound like something you’d find on an Adult Swim compilation. It would also sound like Air Credits because it is. (Air Credits Live from Studio 10)
Lil Bump Fou
Lil Bump Fou, aka the Golden Child, aka The Little Fou That Could, aka The B-boy Fou…None of these are actually names Lil Bump goes by. Whatever the Fou’s have in mind for this year, you can rest assured that the soundtrack will be a perfect complement. Last year, they had several audience participation pieces, one of which involved relaying your worst sex story to a room full of people, and Bump’s selections to match the stories were ridiculously on point. In the Chapel’s off hours, Bump keeps the party going in the Chapel’s off hours. Do yourself a favor and stop in at off times and you’ll see what I mean, and I’ll see you there.
Rufus Du Sol
LA LA LAND
I don’t know what these actually look like, so I’m going to provide a summary along with a link so it’ll be a kind of tease and a surprise for all of us.
The Electric Forest Sub-Reddit’s Guide to Electric Forest
This is a WICKED USEFUL guide to everything Electric Forest. No matter where you’re at in your preparations, there’s plenty in the guide for you.
Previous Year’s EF Coverage:
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