Photos by Don Idio
There’s no place like HOME…
And Home happens to very well be Sherwood Forest.
The scene is the dense and beautiful wooded lands of Rothbury, MI. It’s summertime in Michigan, where locals spend their days near the lake swooning over the sunny days and livelihood that the summer air brings. But every year towards the end of June, the quaint city becomes home to so much more than that. During this time precisely, almost 45,000 gather from all over the globe to celebrate life at their festival home away from home. Electric Forest returns yearly to give both returnees and newcomers an experience unlike any other, a captivating venture of sight, sound, and of the heart.
The event returned for its seventh annual run this year, boasting two weekends of wonder and discovery. Weekend 2 took over the lands this past June 28 – July 1, four days of mystic under the full moon. The likes of The String Incident, The Glitch Mob, GRiZ (live band), REZZ, Bonobo, and Zhu drew many attendees in, but as veterans know- there is so much more to be experienced in the grasp of Sherwood Forest…
We, at Festival Squad, were lucky enough to experience both weekends of the magic (view our W1 recap HERE). And to put it simply, the magic of this place is hard to explain with just a few words. But if we had to,
FOREST TO US MEANS…
-Falling in love
Love comes in all shapes in sizes, whether you call it friendship, dating, admiring- you name it. It’s all around us. Those butterflies you feel when you step into Sherwood Forest for the first time of the weekend and take in the beauty, or when the moon peeks up to say hello behind your favorite stage, or the energy of your favorite set- it all boils down to that feeling of love. Electric Forest gave us the opportunity to be engulfed in it, to have a chance to live it and breathe it for just a few days of each year.
Here, strangers become fast friends. Lovers deepen established connections. You hear the familiar echoes of “Happy Forest” throughout Sherwood and, truly, all that matters is the here and now. Forest is all about those moments that make you wonder- is this even possible? It is, and this love travels far beyond the festival gates every year. It changes people, and then one spark ignites the next.
It means being fully present and loving with your whole heart- right here, right now.
-Dancing until the sun comes up and then some
The production value and variety of musical performances at Electric Forest leave attendees craving more and more for years to come. You can’t help but shake what your momma gave with you when those fire tunes start booming through the forest. You wander and stumble upon a new favorite indefinitely. It’s the kind of feeling where even if its Sunday night and you’re sore from the days prior- you keep on truckin’ and give it your all until the very last moments.
Most festivals have renegade sets at the campgrounds, but Electric Forest one-ups this. RV camp is home to almost 10 sponsored late night renegades, located on top of the RV’s in GA. Here you find your late night house music, riddim, techno, dubstep,- you name it; showcasing local talent or even the festival’s very own headliners. And the best part, there’s no leaving these areas craving more. They go until the party says not to anymore, often late into the following morning. Bring your couch, bring your chairs, and grab the homies-the party always awaits.
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite set of the weekend, but if it comes down to it- it would have had to have been GRiZ live band for the Weekend 2 run. This group of remarkably talented individuals took us on a journey through funk, incorporating chants and old-time classics in their new and exhilarating sound. The crew bumped “As We Proceed” by GRiZmatik, a song that usually boasts heavy bass drops but in this scene is transformed into full-fledged, live funk heaven. Priceless. ProbCause joined the band on stage for crowd favorite, “My Friends & I”, the energy peaking until the show closed out with an exclamation of “Show Love, Spread Love”.
Forest means giving it your all in everything that you do, especially what makes your heart happy.
-Traveling to another dimension
Electric Forest is a whole different ballgame. Every detail of the experience is mapped out with the attendee in mind, to give them memories of a lifetime and that family-like feeling. Returning to this ethereal world becomes much more of a NEED than a want. Out in these parts you never know what you’ll see, you might end up in a 1920s style bar, a barber shop, a disco-themed gala room, a trading post, or even a bowling alley. You create your own experience. The course of the weekend depends on your openness to let the forest take you where you’re meant to go. One thing that we know for sure is that you are bound to run into a variety of other-dimensional creatures roaming Sherwood. Interact, say hello, and see what they might help you find. The sky is no limit! (HINT HINT, check out the Hot Air Balloons)
Forest means feeding into your curiosity- asking questions, digging deeper. Growing within yourself and having a blast while doing it. Spreading this growth to those around you. Crying tears of joy with friends both new and old, and the homeland creatures just the same. After all,- are all one, happy Forest Fam.
-Wandering with no destination
Adventure is an understatement.
Festivals, in general, are known for their call for exploration and strange findings. But this, this is some next level shit right here. Sherwood Forest is built with the explorer in mind, in such a way that even if you spend all weekend catching no sets, you will still not discover even close to everything. I personally spent hours in The Maze, the same one I had spent just a little bit of time in earlier in the day. TOTALLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE! This is because in the Forest, many of the backdoors have backdoors, and the more creatures you talk to, the deeper your findings go. Forest is the place to let loose and come with no expectations- only to have your mind blown indefinitely!
This magical place to us means going with the flow. Sometimes the musical lineup not being as much in your favor for the day can be the best thing to ever happen to you. You may run into a celebration of love through a wedding in the middle of Sherwood, or even go on a scavenger hunt and end up winning VIP tickets for the following year. Forest means to surrender with where life takes you.
-And breaking the chains of the outside world
Out here, everything goes. If you woke up and decided you are a fox for the day- so be it! And if you’re nervous- don’t be alarmed, the smiling faces of your Forest Family wandering through Sherwood will soon put any insecurities at bay. Wear whatever, and do whatever- as long as you are spreading those smiles and positivity. People get really creative with this with their festival best outfits, gifts galore to strangers, and sharing of just about everything. This is the kind of place that if you forget something, you just yell “SCISSORS” and a smiling stranger with soon show up to save the day. Manifestation station, at your service.
Forest to us means sharing and engaging in selflessness, and the giving tree is a prime example of this notion. Attendees return to this Rothbury staple year by year, some with mastermind plans and others totally “winging it”. You might find a piece of gum under this tree in exchange for a trinket you leave behind, or if you’re lucky, something much much greater than that. A great friend of ours climbed this very tree, only to find an absolutely gorgeous piece of art placed there every so slyly. And the stories go on and on from there…