Changes abound for the 2019 iteration of Electric Forest. Brace yourself, because at least one of these will probably bum you out. That doesn’t mean this is going to be a lesser experience by any means, just that you may want to find a way to process and accept changes by the time you get there.
Change, after all, is how Electric Forest grew from its humble beginnings in the ashes of Rothbury Festival and slowly developed into the incredible and expansive experience it is today. Change brought the Observatory, the Psychedelic Chapel, the Grand Artique, and much of the artwork set up throughout Sherwood Forest. Change also improved the hell out of the stage production and added Jubilee, the Hangar, and the Carousel Club.
Now that we’ve built up change to help you feel pretty good about it, let’s rip off the band-aid for the 2019 changes, shall we?
RIP Spicy Pie
Just kidding, they aren’t dead, but they are not going to be included in the vendors this year. No word on why, but I have a certain group of less than pleased feelings in reaction to this. At a festival, Spicy Pie is life. BUT, this will be an important means of learning how to cope and to diversify our options for sustenance.
No Fou’s For You!
That’s right, folks, no late-night inappropriate and sexy clowns for us courtesy of Mama Fou and the rest of Fou Fou Ha. Let’s all raise a carrot and exert one, big collective sigh of sadness…there, that wasn’t so bad, now was it? Sure it was, but that’s over now, and we can move on. Begrudgingly forward we go.
Now that the nasty stuff is out of the way, let’s hit up a few things to look forward to this year. We’re going to cover music in a separate post, but since Electric Forest is so much more than a music festival, I thought to dedicate this preview to everything but.
So, without further ado, but with a cliche, here are our recommendations for Electric Forest 2019:
House Parties x Electric Forest
One thing that The Great De-Fouing opens up is more opportunities in the Psychedelic Chapel space, which HQ has opted to distribute directly to the Forest Fam, rather than moving on to a new performance troupe. Enter ‘Chapel Parties for the People,’ the Plug-In Program that invited attendees to design their own parties and uses for the space. A total of eight parties will be selected and put in touch with the EF’s production crew who will help bring their vision to life. The submission period is over, so we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for the Chapel this year. I appreciate the crowd-sourcing solution to this Fouvoid.
A Celebration of Forest-Found Couples
This is one option where applications are still being accepted. Did you find your boo in the Forest? Did you spend hours roaming around together, uncovering some of the many secrets in Sherwood? If Electric Forest is where it started or what brought the two of you together, then the powers that be want to hear about it. Selected entrants will be honored en masse in a special ceremony.
What do you suppose that looks like? It’s probably not an orgy, right? It’s intriguing for sure. Again, we’ll have to wait to see what unfolds. I also can’t help but wonder if they should also have some kind of Solo Forester celebration for people who attend by themselves. Those are some brave souls that deserve attention, too. Maybe that’ll happen at EF 2020?
This may seem a little silly on the surface. Scribble a note to somebody you can’t talk to on a paper bag and throw a fake candle inside and that’s, what, a fitting tribute for a loved one? Short answer: You’re goddamn right it is.
It’s okay to feel silly when you’re doing it, but once you’ve got it set up on the wall with the rest of the luminarias, you’ll better understand that your contribution represents somebody with a huge impact on you, who you miss with all of your being, and you will realize how many of your fellow Forest Fam share that kind of huge presence and tragic loss in their lives. And you’ll probably cry when you realize this, and that’s okay, too.
Sometimes the best agenda is no agenda. Carve out some time where your only plan is to wander the Forest and see what you can find. Many of my most cherished Forest memories came about as the result of wiping away plans for an afternoon. We’ve posted up at the Observatory and people-watched, we’ve interacted with the wandering trash trolls or Yellow Suit Society, we’ve set up little terrariums throughout the Forest, “collected” fairy door pics, and so on.
Hit up the Trading Post at the Grand Artique
Inside the walls of the Grand Artique, you’ll find a plethora of goods to drool over, from pins to vintage hats to bowling pins and band-aids. You can pay cash for anything in the store, but the real fun comes in the negotiation process with the people behind the counter.
From what I’ve gathered over the years, the most valued currency at the Grand Artique is stories. If you have a diamond ring, that’s neat, but without a story it’s really just a ring. But if there’s a story attached to it and you can relate an engaging narrative attached to the diamond ring, its value increases exponentially.
Instead of saying it is an engagement ring for a wedding that never happened, you can say you went deep sea fishing and caught some mammoth coelacanth, a fish that is supposed to be extinct but have somehow survived since the age of dinosaurs. When you opened up the ancient fish, you found a millenia’s worth of shiny trinkets and among them, the very ring that the famous Titanic survivor Rose tossed into the water. And no, it really wasn’t that big, they just made it out to be a ridiculous ring to sell tickets.
That’s the value: the narrative.
The Ocular Organ Ouerve
The Ocular Organ was always cool, but when it was stuffed into the very back of Ranch Arena, it sat wasting its potential (much like I did in high school) with a modest lighting set-up.
Relocated to the Sherwood Court side of the Forest in 2018, the Organ gained a LOT of extra lighting and with the dismantling of the Observatory’s Japanese-ish towers, it also acquired seating.
As a player plays, the sounds trigger light sequences, disco ball spotlights, fog machines, and lasers as the composition gets more complex or is played for longer. I think. I got so swept up when things kicked into high gear that it was hard to track which sound was triggering what lights. Imagine if Clark Griswold’s house in Christmas Vacation took a buuuunch of acid and you’d have something that sorta resembles the Ocular Organ in full spectacle mode.
Add to that a series of hoopers, dancers, additional instruments coming out, and the occasional singer and you have yourself something worth writing home about. Speaking of…
Send a Postcard
At the Grand Artique, you’ll find a mailbox with stacks (on stacks on stacks) of postcards. You can fill these postcards out and throw them in the mailbox. Once the festival is over, the postcards all get a stamp and then they’re put away for an undetermined amount of time. Some months later, your addressee will get a fun piece of mail from you.
If you haven’t noticed, mail usually sucks. It’s either a bill or somebody trying to sell you something. Other than the occasional holiday card, it’s typically bupkis. Why not change that and provide an unexpected rush of humanity for those closest to you? Good mail is as rare as a coelacanth, but it doesn’t have to be.
So, that’s it for now! Everybody huddle up for a quick recap, mmkay?
- Change hurts
- Change can be good
- Hit up a House Party
- Celebrate Love
- Trade Stories
- Play an Organ (wink, wink)
- Remember a Loved One
- Write a Loved One
- Eat Something Besides Spicy Pie
As always, we are here and on Facebook to answer any questions you might have about the Forest. Feel free to go through our previous coverage of Electric Forest here. If you’re the type that likes to find answer for themselves, check out the official page here or come join the cult of r/ElectricForest on Reddit and we’ll help get you squared away and hyped as hell. Stay tuned to ElectroJams.com for more Electric Forest previews and coverage when the time comes!
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.