Why would a hippie drown themselves in a sea of hipsters and EDM? If you enjoy Phish, Dead & Co, Greensky Bluegrass, and the like, what would the appeal of Electric Forest be you ask? The miles of music listed on the bill are obscure and barely heard of bands to an aging hippie. Are they even bands? These are questions you may ask yourself while looking at the ticket price. I understand, and in response, I offer you these five counter-arguments for your consideration.
My Top 5 Reasons an Aging Hippie Would Chose to go to Electric Forest:
1) The Venue -- As far as the Midwest goes, I have been to Bonnaroo, Summer Camp, and 10KLF. Remember 10KLF? Ahhhhh that fest was great. Alas, it did not survive. In lieu, Electric Forest Fest offers an even better venue than 10KLF. The Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury MI is the cream of our corn-fed crop these days. The drive up is chill as you cannot go more than 25 mph heading west to the venue. It has all the beach vibes and fresh air of the mitten that I have come to love. Passing by so many breweries and vineyards, you sense the independent spirit of Michigan.
Once you enter the Double JJ Ranch, you realize that this is the best place to get weird outside of the long trek to Burning Man. Inside the forest are plenty of locations bursting with people but still room for your personal bubble whether you want to take a nap have a seat at the Forest Stage, play around with the Einstein Moments interactive station, or have an ice cold beer next to the Observatory stage. There is a water park, showers, cooler temperatures and it far surpasses the dust bowl venues where there is no reprieve from the 103-degree temperatures… in the shade.
2) The People -- Sure, there are hipsters as far as the eye can see, but you know what? The hipsters of Electric Forest have all converged here for a reason. They choose this event amongst so many other hipster vehicles because of the overwhelming art and vibes alive in the Forest. They have the option to go to so many other festivals that we have never even heard of, but they chose the Rothbury incarnate. They are here for the medicine inside the music. They are a vital part of the art that sucks you into the spinning wheel of this community.
The participatory spirit is only alive with the kind of people that Electric Forest attracts. One of my fondest memories of being an aging hippie at a hipster event was when a young kid, at least ten years younger than me, sidled up to us and asked, “What was Phish like pre-hiatus?” Isn’t that precious?! I have yet to find a festival that has such hungry people. They are hungry for life and ready to live it. Which brings me to my next reason...
3) Karma -- "Don’t give me no hand me down world. I got one already” - The Guess Who
4) The String Cheese Incident -- The binding glue of all of this is the band that has been bringing freaks together for decades. The String Cheese Incident is the perfect culmination of collaboration and creativity. If you begin to drown in the sea of EDM, SCI is here to provide buoys of real music that will navigate you through this Forest experience. Headlining Friday Saturday and Sunday, the sets that SCI puts on travel from traditional to Bill Nershi jamming to EDM to show you the way.
Every year they curate some amazing collaborations - Lauryn Hill and SCI? Yep. That happened. A Yonder Mountain Cheese Incident? Yup. That happened. A Big G Incident? That has definitely happened. You never know who SCI will pull up on stage - or even more enticing, a member of SCI will pop up on the other artist's stage and collaborate for a song or two. It is a glorious SCI all-star jam. By the end of the weekend, you will be in love with String Cheese all over again. They have been at this so long, constantly innovating the scene, and Electric Forest may be their best fest yet. They are eternally young, fresh and funky. If you don’t like what they are playing, wait 5 minutes, and it will change.
5) The Fountain of Youth -- Admittedly, I do feel old when I am at Electric Forest, but upon returning to the real world, I feel fresh as a daisy and younger than before. Leave the baby boomers behind and leave the woes of the world behind. Ancient answers are kicked around while these kids blossom right before your eyes. I believe in the glory of our future, and the community at Electric Forest is a great place to find it.
If anything, you have amazing stories to tell. You can discuss your favorite art installment and have qualified arguments as to why A-Trak was on the right idea when he says “fuck a drug test.” You can tell them about Abbie Hoffman and where it all began in qualifying terms of A-Trak. But you can walk right by A-Trak’s banging set and put in your ear plugs as you smoke good ol fashioned weed and hit the sack. All is good in the world. We speak the same language if we want to, and that is what makes the world a better place. See you for the last four #8daysofforest