"Good luck on your quest" said an Electric Forest attendee, clad in tie-dye and blowing a vuvuzela as I walked towards the entrance. That's exactly what Electric Forest was - a quest. Four days of DJs, electro-pop artists, greasy grub and laser light shows. All of this, fused into an eclectic forest, filled with towering stilt walkers, neon string structures, and a hanging, and ever-changing, psychedelic brain.
There were plenty of pleasant distractions. It's what makes Electric Forest, and the entire experience, so signature. If one could pry themselves away from eye candy all around, they could settle on four days of some of the most entertaining shows that I have recently seen.
Thursday tipped off the festival with some of the festival's most underrated acts. Progressive house DJ Morgan Page delivered a pleasing set of upbeat beats for a pack of animated fans. Taking on the second biggest stage, Page did not fail to attract fans as they strolled by to the forest. Me being one of them.
After a bit of a disappointing set at Summer Camp Music Festival, EOTO dealt one of the best shows of the fest. The improvisational dubstep duo of Michael Travis and Jason Hann did not fail to fill a worthwhile sized crowd at the largest stage. Their absorbing bass mixed with amusing loops made for a set that was still spoken of the rest of the weekend. The String Cheese Incident side project felt like much more of a headliner that night.
Hoosier roots shined once Lotus took the stage. The electronic jam band, formed in Goshen, Indiana, had a soothing set, even featuring some classics. A longer rendition of the popular "Spiritualize" came to great impression of die-hard fans. After most fans described Benny Benassi's headlining set as "disappointing", Lotus seemed to have a very successful outing.
Friday featured two of the most impressive sets of the weekend. Polish Ambassador reeled off rhythmic tunes one after another as fans glistened in the evening heat. Fans erupted once the Oakland DJ declared that it had been the biggest crowd he had ever performed for. Having not heard much of the Ambassador before, I was thoroughly impressed by what he had to offer.
Baauer followed next in filthy fashion. Baauer, who found fame from his hit, "Harlem Shake", has been criticized before for not mixing live, but rather simply playing pre-recorded tracks. However, fans warmly responded to each hit, particularly "Higher" and "Rollup (Remix)". Though these two shows were among the best of the weekend, I do believe that they would have benefited from playing at night. More intriguing lights could have ignited more dancing from an otherwise content crowd.
Passion Pit delivered a disappointing 1 -2:30 a.m. slot. It was assumed that the Boston-based band would have a large crowd in attendance, being that only Noisia and String Cheese Incident's three and a half hour set were the main competitors at that time. After even half of Passion Pit's show passed by, surprisingly only two thirds of the front VIP section remained. Fans in attendance seemed unengaged and conversational. Though the band did serve up an exciting rendition of "Sleepyhead" and "Cry Like A Ghost", they seemed to play without much purpose.
Simply put, BoomBox was groovy. Their long-running, and sometimes improvisational, songs seemed to never end. Which fans adored. Fans latched onto their rhythms and rode them to the very end.
Just Blaze drew more to his set than anticipated, as he dished out riveting hip-hop mashes and repped the Fool's Gold label. Fans who seemed exhausted in the afternoon seemed to save up all energy for Flosstramadus's set, which didn't disappoint. Fans seemed riled up for a night that included some of the festival's biggest names.
Empire Of The Sun's night set ended up not only as the best of the day, but the weekend altogether. The Aussie electropop group is touring following their release of "Ice On The Dune", their follow up to their 2008 debut album "Walking On A Dream." The group's theatrical performance was on point, as each member did not miss a beat as they executed the intricate moves and formations that made their show so entirely entertaining. New tunes such as "Alive" and "Concert Pitch" exampled their high emotion, while classics like "Walking On A Dream" and "We Are The People" reminded fans of what they've been made of all along.
Robert DeLong lead a surprisingly amusing Sunday set. DeLong was a one-man machine on stage, bouncing between his DJ equipment and crimson drum set. DeLong didn't shy away from his tech savvy side, as he used what looked like an Xbox controller to deliver laser sounding effects on top of it all.
Reptar battled through technical difficulties to give a small, but dedicated, crowd a showing. The Georgians took requests from the crowd and even promised to jam in the forest later that evening. Though the technical difficulties were a bit frustrating, renditions of "Rainbounce" and "Stuck In My Id" made the wait worthwhile.
One wait weighed heaviest upon most festivalgoers: Pretty Lights. The DJ, also known as Derek Smith, headlined Sunday night. He shined atop the Ranch Arena stage as his family of followers, pasted in Pretty Lights apparel, vibed along accordingly. He split his hour and forty minute set with a nice fix of instant classics, such as "Finally Moving", "So Bright", and "High School Art Class." This came with a whiff of new material, as well, which was widely anticipated by fans beforehand. Even with Beats Antique and their Mayhem Marching Band dazzling fans to end the night, afterthoughts of Pretty Lights' performance remained supreme for the evening.