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Electric Forest Festival, Day 1



The Primus song “My name is Mud” continues to resonate in my head after an encounter with a courageous car attempting to leave the Electric Forest Festival this morning. As the car skidded down Main Street (now effectively a giant mud slip’n’slide), I ducked behind the nearest truck five seconds too late, and found myself splattered in mud from head to toe.

From the time I arrived yesterday afternoon, rain has been intermittent and unpredictable. I joked it was a truly electric forest with all the lightning in the sky. And after last night’s storm, it became the “Electric Rain Forest." Most showers have been brief, but around 9 p.m., a heavy rain with frequent lightning left me stranded in my tent for nearly two hours. Some shows were shut down before their scheduled conclusion time due to unsafe conditions.

Hammocks in the Electric Forest. - (C-Style Photography)
  • Hammocks in the Electric Forest.
    (C-Style Photography)

The festival kicked off at Sherwood Court, a performance/art space located in the back of the venue grounds. One has to walk through the woods of Sherwood Forest to get there. A pathway that led to the mysterious land was lined with blue, green, and yellow glowing lanterns that hung overhead. A tall fence bordered the winding, mulched path and kept festival goers out of a restricted area. Tall, skinny pine trees populated the area, lush with foliage on the upper third, but bare with broken tree limbs the rest of the way down. Colored spotlights had been sporadically installed at tree bases and shone upward, creating the same effect on the trees as holding a flashlight to one’s chin while telling a ghost story. Hammocks were everywhere and most were occupied with comfortably snoozing campers. It seemed that visual art was around every corner and interactive installations were behind every tree.

Lynx was performing when I got there. Standing before her laptop, a set of keys, a single drum, and a mandolin (sitting to the side), she explained that once upon a time, she didn’t think electronic music was real music. “Obviously, I’ve been convinced otherwise and converted to the dark side,” she confessed as a lead-in to a new song. Later she advised the sound guy, “This is a warning that I’m about to beat box so… watch the high end.” The beat box segment that followed saw Lynx imitate the muffled lines of hip-hop emcee work, the scratching of records and rapid drum’n’bass-like snare beats. I wondered if she’d composed a special Electric Forest beat just for the festival; the performance consisted of heavy bass lines (all from her mouth) that moved the audience to wobble and dance as if a DJ was behind the decks blasting dubstep.

Later that night, when the evening’s thunderstorm had passed, I ventured back out for nighttime exploration. Thanks to persistent rain, the campgrounds had been transformed into a mucky, sloppy nightmare. Never mind the piles of horse poop from security’s animals that had angered me earlier; they were no longer of concern, for the patchy piles had been totally consumed and replaced by quicksand-like pits of mud.

Michael Menert closed out Thursday from a strange stage named Wagon Wheel. Signs to the stage directed foot traffic down a hidden hill and across a mushy field of grass. As it turns out, the Wagon Wheel is an indoor stage placed inside of a large barn. In the aftermath of Emancipator’s set, it was many degrees warmer inside The Whell than outside. A thick haze of smoky air, tainted by the overpowering scent of body odor, was unavoidable. But the audience didn’t care, though. They were far too busy taking orders from Menert, raging away the first night of Electric Forest at Thursday’s final performance.

Michael Menert - (C-Style Photography)
  • Michael Menert
    (C-Style Photography)

Continue reading: Electric Forest Festival, Day 2

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