There is really no other way to put it…every return to Electric Forest feels like coming home. The Forest is a place where attendees come to be themselves, leave the outside world for a couple of days, become part of a family and be free.
In its fifth year known as Electric Forest, the festival set out to make 2015 its biggest year yet. With a venue expansion and a noticeable increase in capacity, the demand for admittance into these hallowed festival grounds was immense with an estimated attendance of over 45,000, compared to that of 35,000 in 2014. While the overcrowding, overlooked camping logistics, and other issues of the weekend created somewhat of a challenge to many, Electric Forest was still “home” and we were able to share four magical days with our Forest Family.
No two experiences at Electric Forest are a like. Each person comes to the Forest with varying expectations, seeking different experiences, and ultimately walking away with memories of a weekend that was unique to them. Days after we have departed the Double J Ranch, leaving our friends and just our footprints, we are still taking in every aspect of our Forest adventure.
While we could talk about Electric Forest for days, it still wouldn’t be enough to fully describe our festival experience. We may only be scratching the surface here, but we’ve comprised a list of Vinyl Mag’s favorite Electric Forest moments of 2015.
Unexpected Collaborations: Friday night near the close of The String Cheese Incident’s second set, we received a Snapchat of Skrillex (Sonny Moore) backstage at the Ranch Arena with guitar in hand. Could it be true? Was Skrillex going to come out with Cheese and not womp-out on a collaboration? Sure enough, encore time comes and Moore walks out on stage with that guitar and Cheese begins to jam out to The Doors’ “Break On Through.” The song feeds into “L.A Woman” where Moore shares vocals with Bill Nershi (SCI) and then rounding back out again into “Break On Through.” Are we really surprised about the song selection? Not really, considering Moore worked with the remaining members of The Doors on a collaboration project and documentary called Re:Generation. We were surprisingly impressed at witnessing Moore’s musical talents and grateful for his thank-you shoutout at the end of the performance, thanking everyone from the fans, to The String Cheese Incident, to security, and even the people who clean the bathrooms.
While there were other collaborations like Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic playing sax with Cheese on Sunday, Macy Gray fronting Galactic, Michael Kang sitting in with Bassnectar for “Dubuasca,” and Big Gigantic raging with Cherub during a surprise sunrise set ontop of an RV in GA Camping, Skrillex busting out a guitar and jamming out with Cheese was definitely our favorite collaboration of the weekend.
The Forest: One of the best pastimes of Electric Forest is wandering and getting lost within Sherwood Forest. In it’s own right, the Forest is a festival headliner. Whether day or night, the Forest provides hidden treasures and experiences at every turn. As the festival grew in attendance and size this year, along with it grew Sherwood Forest. The Forest’s expansion created more secret spaces and surprises to discover. While wandering around the general store, we stumbled upon a small mailbox that was simply placed outside of the rustic structure. Next to letterbox was a bunch of blank postcards inviting attendees to write a message to their future selves. Electric Forest would provide the postage and after placing the postcard in the Forest Mailbox your future self would receive your message someday. This was just one of the many things we happened upon in the Forest that made us smile.
Hammock Zones: If you have attended Electric Forest in past years, especially in 2014, you know just how crowded Sherwood Forest became with hammocks; so much so it became almost impossible to navigate through the Forest at times. This year EF Headquarters implemented a roll out of Hammock Etiquette and Hammock Zones. While this was met with some grumblings, during the festival majority of people seemed to respect the new guidelines. EF Headquarters continued to stress that Hammocks are part of the soul of Electric Forest, and they are not going away. This new plan for 2015 was to create Hammock Zones in restful areas to help solve traffic problems, and to give some of the beloved pines in Sherwood a chance to rest. From what we saw, these zones did in fact help with traffic issues, but still allowed for hammocks to be a major part of festival.
The Hanger: The Hanger is one of our absolute favorite additions to the Forest. The Hanger, resembling a 1940s aircraft hanger, became a place to take a break from the rest of the festival, enjoy a quality cocktail (I mean, Moscow Mules with Titos, who knew that was our favorite?), and interact with a variety of characters who were keeping up with the 1940s theme.
In addition to a main craft beer and cocktail bar and a main stage area, The Hanger was home to a massage lounge with a 40s mechanic theme where you could get “buffed out” by pin-up girls, an actual barber shop, tattoo parlor (fake tattoos of course), a cuban style bar/lounge and many more surprises. Professional dancers, Cigarette Girls and Candy Dolls walking around with neck strap trays, and stilt walkers were all seen under the massive vaulted ceiling of The Hanger throughout the weekend.
From The String Cheese Incident’s infamous Saturday set, to exhilarating covers by various artists, to the mystical Tripolee stage, to Bluegrass Sunday, to the new circus tent that is Jubilee…the list of unforgettable moments and sights at Electric Forest 2015 is endless. Once again, Vinyl Mag is so grateful to have been a part of such a magical weekend.
It all started when a much younger Jackie dove into her parents’ record collection, grabbed that trippy Magical Mystery Tour album, and played “Strawberry Fields” over and over again until it was engrained into her soul. She grew up on the dreams and stories of Simon and Garfunkel, “Bleeker Street” being one of her favorites, the seduction of The Doors, Van Morrison, because “Brown Eyed Girl” is definitely her song, and the likes of Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix…you get the picture. It may not show on the outside, but Jackie has a hippie heart, and that reflects in her musical tastes today. While some of her favorites may or may not be jam bands, her taste in music feeds into many genres. From alternative, Brit, and indie rock - OK, maybe all rock - to pop, to rap, to electronic, she loves it all. As a northerner, she thought she would never understand country until she found herself on a Georgia farm in cowboy boots watching Luke Bryan shake it for her- yeah, she got that. She is a chronic wanderluster, she doesn't believe in guilty pleasures, enjoys a great Moscow Mule, and is an absolute music festival fanatic- you’ll find her wherever the music takes her.