After months of waiting patiently and keeping up to date with our payment plans, we finally took to Rothbury for the ninth year of the Electric Forest. A Jeep Liberty packed to the hilt rode us six hours to our first Electric Forest- ever. This experience was one that will cast a shadow of amazing memories to keep us cool as our lives throw the heat of reality back at us. Electric Forest 2019 gave us four and a half straight days of insomnia and euphoria that our expectations underestimated ten-fold. The memories we now hold so dearly and share with you here are the product of thousands upon thousands of amazing people. From the staff, planners, and artists to the amazingly kind and wild souls of the fans, every direct and indirect interaction we had was positive and in the nature of the EDM community. Excuse the slightly corny pun, but; everything at forest grew from the same love for music, excitement, and unity. We bring all of that back here and look to do it some justice as we go on.
To say venue here is to label a skyscraper as a house. The Double JJ Resort is transformed into a Disneyland for the EDM kids. Countless lots of tents that connect like villages of the sleepless, before even scratching the surface of the world of wonder in the woods. Every site had its own personality, with lights, flags, tapestries, signs, even mailboxes! Most spraying their own music into the air like confetti.
When the tents end, the RVs begin. These sites exponentially amplified the personality the tents were able to create. The RVs were their own venues- outside of the venue. The RV’s were the after party that looped back into the party. They provide a place to continue burning any energy you have after the festival days, and we capitalized even when we were running on empty. Buses turned to stages, perpendicular RV parking created dance floors, and blaring music of any kind served as an invitation to any of them. All of this still before entering the entryway to the front gate of Electric Forest.
Electric Forest Main Street was the Hot Wheel track that brought every revved up soul into the venue. This track was by no means baron or uneventful- nothing through the whole weekend was. Massive tents ran down the middle of the massive passageway. Each with their own wonders, which included art, a mini arcade, a stage that hosted things from bingo to meet-and-greets, and healthy areas to just chill. However, like a jelly donut, that was just the gooey filling. The sweet pastry of the donut that harbored that sweet filling was an endless reason to spend money. On either side of Main Street, you could find vendors of all sorts. Products to get you a nicotine fix, to fill your stomach, to lounge in, to decorate yourself or your home, and to wear for the weekend and far after were all ready to be yours, for the right price. Main Street embodied the nature of this hustle-bustle route up to the gates of whimsical magic, that lie ahead.
Main Street spits you out right into the entryway of the festival; a massive metal gate garnished with intricately decorated clock towers and the name “Electric Forest” in-between them. All that stood in our way from passing through that gate into this strange wonderland was a maze of gates stuffed with others on the same pursuit. The line process was rather quick considering the sheer amount of bodies that needed to be passed through. Before getting into the festival and just to the left of the entryway is where you could find festival information, lost and found, and a medic tent. This served as an amazing feature for anyone in need of assistance seeing that you could get all your affairs in order, before starting your day or shortly after ending it. In our opinion, that, in a way, serves to keep the worry and anxiety (better known as bad vibes) out of your Electric Forest experience.
Entering the field that borders the forest and harbors Tripolee stage is one of the most invigorating feelings in the entire world. Passing through the gate and being a part of Electric Forest is this cyclone of euphoria that hugs you and holds tight every second you are a part of it. Now that we are in, we can get to talking about the stages. It is important to keep in mind that through the entire stretch of the festival there were countless vendors, just as on Main Street. We may not highlight them now that we are talking about the stages, but it is important to note they are EVERYWHERE and full of all of the amazing things you could think of.
The first stage that you come up to after entering. You are just on the cusp of everything forest has to offer, but the stage is massive! Festooned with massive Egyptian like sculptures and crazy amounts of light and sound- Tripolee was a focal point for every day of Forest.
Walking through the field of Tripolee, past a slew of vendors, the wonderful willow that is known as the giving tree, and then a mini main street with the main merch stand- you end up at the Ranch Area. The Ranch Area is scattered with trees and provides this huge field in front of it all. No matter if you are in the back under the shade of the trees or up basking in the sun, you can feel and see the stage due to a slight incline. This was another massive stage with slightly minimal decoration, but how much decoration do you need when you have nature to help out.
Once you pass the Ranch, the trees are abundant and your life officially re-begins. The Observatory is one of the stages in the forest and among the forest’s many attractions. Dirt was plentiful in the woods, but at the Observatory, the standing room was sand (some may say sanding room- get it). A nice change of turf as well as a raised level to add another aspect to the forested stage.
Adding another listening experience to the forest, the Honeycomb is another treasure of a stage. This stage rings out as beyond unique because the stage is quite literally a pedestal. Stands circularly surround the stage and provides a chill listening experience. Another abstract concept brought to life, in the forest. Sorry we didn’t get a picture!
Buried in the forest with all the other wonders, the Silent Disco, and the Chapel served as their own stages. Where the silent disco was literally just among the trees and adorned with colorful melty-star decorations, it gave countless artists their time to shine. Featuring three channels on each headset, so you could adjust what you were hearing to almost exactly what you wanted- at any time. It was simple and effective.
The chapel however, was not as rustic. This small church is built as a colorful beacon of intrigue. There was music throughout the day, but other events such as meet and greets and WEDDINGS. It was not huge but was almost always packed.
Emerging on the other side of the forest, there is another whole area full of more vendors and more stages. Jubilee was a giant violet circus tent that sheltered a stage and provided a whole lot of shade. For being a covered stage, the tent still felt so vast. That alone was like a large city venue.
All the way back in the farthest corner of the forest, there was another hub of amazing-ness known as the Hangar. An amazing place with spots to get a drink, a tattoo, a massage, an aromatherapy session, and even play games. Tucked away at the end of this hall of wonder was the Carousel Club. A fully enclosed tented stage that became a nightclub, no matter the hour. With wooden floors and levels of couches, this place sparked the best kind of energy. The house music, that rattled the tent walls, was perfectly placed. It was a spectacle.
On the flip side of Jubilee in the back side of the forest, Sherwood Court was another amazingly massive stage. Elephant art draped over the stage as it played music to another vast field. This stage felt very intimate, regardless of the size, since it really had a space of its own.
With so much space and music, the Double JJ Ranch was, again, EDM Disneyland. We could go on for hours talking about all the amazing decorations, events, shops, and moments that were brought by just the stages and the venue as a whole. Electric Forest, in regard to venue, makes something that will always stand on its own. Everything there is Electric Forest; that’s to say that nothing feels out of place. Not a single thing is not utilized or part of the venue that does not brand Electric Forest. It is such a cohesive set-up, while encapsulating so very very much.
It should go without saying that we did not see the 170+ sets on the talent card. To be honest, we actually ended up missing some sets we thought we were for sure going to see. The weekend had so much to offer, and we just followed the vibe to where it was calling us. So here is a break-down of everyone that we DID have the chance to see.
Lick: The start set of the whole weekend struck a great chord. A set of trance synthesized dubs was a perfect step into the Forest.
SNBRN: SNBRN delivered a dose of house, which was a nice genre jump. His set brought a lot of great music to our ears and brought all of the top tunes our heads cycle through every day.
The Knocks: Although this was not an overly electronic set, the Knocks brought huge energy. They were so into the festival and their music. Those two factors combined produced a set that left with a grin slapped on your face.
WOOLI: Well-crafted and spinning tracks in a unique way define WOOLI’s set. He had a way of adding so much personality to the way DJ-ing is done. A great performance that brought flow and talent to the forefront.
Whipped Cream: One of Austin’s must-sees for the weekend did not disappoint anyone. Whipped Cream opened a set that seemed to be lying low and then flipped the energy on its head. Every drop, loop, and verse was made amplifying exciting, by her ability to bend into all different types of sound.
Whethan: A set that surprised us with energy and variety. Whethan brought tracks that were bouncing with house and booming with wubs to the same party; a party which everyone wants an invitation to.
Said the Sky: It is no surprise that Said the Sky brought the sad boi szn out in all of us. His emotional and delightful set grew everyone’s hearts ten-fold. He met and exceeded the expectations set for himself, by his opening line
“Yo! Electric Forest, how are y’all feeling out there tonight? For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Said the Sky and I fucking love beautiful music; so that’s what I am going to play for you guys tonight.”
Ekali: We were torqued to be able to catch the beginning of this set, before Odesza. Ekali brought some heat to the stage and went hard on some fan-favorite tracks. Great mixing ability as well as energy maintenance.
Odesza: After catching this set over a year ago, we were seasoned for what was to come. It was exciting to see one of the last sets on this tour. We were further excited once we got to see all of the magnificence, that is Odesza, among the trees of the ranch. The set just inspires wonder in each of the sophisticated details. The drum line, the lighting, the amazing Odesza track list- all of it makes such a vibrant ordeal.
NGHTMRE & Slander: GUD VIBRATIONS: Another set that we were anxious to see. A b2b that has taken the world by storm created some pretty high expectations for us. “GUD Vibrations” could not better describe what we saw. Phenomenal exchanging energy between NGHTMRE and the Slander duo bundled with drops that went from 100 to 1000, within the same song, spelled an amazing closing set for Electric Forest day one.
Digital Ethos b2b Chee: Another morning meant another dubstep wake up call. This dirty set got us in action for the day ahead, by absolutely throwing down. Another amazing b2b duo who went to impress us with blood-pumping wubz.
Quinn XCII: Quinn was another artist that did not bring a DJ set, but did bring energy. He was loud, spirited, and so joyful. His music may not have been exactly what we were in the mood for, but it did not matter because he was loving life.
DeFunk: Dubstep mashed up with some ivory tickling at DeFunk’s set. Any artist that can mesh talents on stage stands out, and DeFunk was no exception. Keyboard and some dubstep went a long way.
CVBS: CVBS was an exemplary live band with awesome vocals. They were an awesome stage presence and really got everyone into their set.
Subtronics: You would think that the dirtiest we were was at the end of the weekend, with the no showering and all. However, that assumption would be wrong seeing Subtronics threw absolute filth around. He used wonky drops and crazy cuts to get everyone in the mood. He even shouted out most of the artists he was playing, which was so humble but also interruptive to his set at times.
Caspa: Dubstep continued to rattle our bones during Caspa’s earthquake set. Another bass boomer to keep the heart pumping extra hard.
Kygo: Another artist we have seen before and were dying to see again. Kygo is another artist that brings so much of himself to the table during his set. From playing his extensive song list to featuring himself and others playing live instruments, his set was so first-rate. It was also amazing to hear his newest song with Whitney Houston, on the big stage, the day it dropped.
BTSM: The trio was another on our list of to-sees this year and we are elated we get to check it off. Closing out the night with a dubstep sound that we hadn’t heard all day. Their set was very dark and underground feeling. Church has never seemed so intense. A phenomenal sermon of dark dance music to close day two.
Jansten: Took and introduced that heavy bass with very trance sounds. His set was clean and provided a great mix of music. He really summoned a great vibe with his music choice and soundscaping
Baynk: This set was by far the dessert of the day. Baynk churned a smooth and chilled set that was so sweet it could give you a cavity. The cherry on top was the organic aspect of saxophone and live vocals.
Wuki: With a strong backdrop of music, Wuki was able to bring a lot of flow to his set. Bringing his different production styles and matching the same essence with the other songs he chose. We’ve said it already, but will say it again; the set just matched up and popped-off.
Ookay (Live): Beyond talented and fun, we got to check Ookay’s live set. The set really shows off all that Ookay can do, while playing all of his own music. He’s dynamic in talent, on stage, and in regard to his personality. It takes a lot to do a set like this, so it is always great to see it ensue.
Claude Vonstroke: Stroke is in the name, and that was the name of Claude’s game. Like any magnificent drawing, it starts simply with a stroke and emerges from there. Vonstroke began slowly outlining his sound and then draped energy and hype over top. It was a house set where the whole was greater than all the parts; everything was needed to make it everything it was.
Bassnectar: This set for us was a taste of all new cuisine. Bassnectar is known for spectacular shows and drawing people back to them over-and-over again. No longer will we wonder why. This show was the equivalent of being shot into hyperspace on a disco ball . Lasers, lights, visuals, sound cues, music, and the crowd all worked in harmony to absolutely melt minds. A meteor could have landed right in between us during the set, and we never would have looked away. Bassnectar was and IS an amazing experience everyone should have.
Alison Wonderland: Every time, without skipping a beat, Alison Wonderland justifies everything about being in love with music. She brings her multi-talent performance time and time again, because it’s her nature. Her set always seems to empower you to love everything about your own life, even when things don’t feel the greatest. Every moment of her set could be the best moment, and that is her whole sentiment. A great note to hang day 3 on.
Seven Lions b2b Dimibo: This b2b was defined by the intertwining of trance sounds with harder music. Not only were the artists able to weave one another into a cohesive set, but they were also able to weave that inter-dimensional sound into everything. With such a strong weaving, they made a sturdy basket for big beats.
Hippie Sabotage: A set that is taken from a different page of energy. Hippie Sabotage was energetic but also twisted with strange. The set was in line with that intriguing level of odd the entire time. This adherence, to that peculiar vibe, made the set feel balanced and well-executed.
Hannah Wants: In the house world, there are sets that bounce and sets that glide. Hannah Wants was like spreading warm butter on fresh toast. She just glided from track to track and had the crowd drifting through her groovy wake.
Snails: This set did not stop. Non-stop pounding tracks that each had their own recipe for energy. It is a wonder that the trees still had leaves after such a constant pressing force of bass. Snails perfectly capsized the set with the emergence of the blow-up gastropod from the stage.
Mason Maynard: Mason Maynard backed up to Hannah Wants on Tripolee, and he brought the bounce after her slide. For a guy that says nothing during his stage time, his set says a whole lot. The resounding theme though is “welcome to the party”. The heels of our feet didn’t seem to ever hit the ground, as we were just bopping on the balls of our feet the whole set.
Zeds Dead: Zeds Dead seemed to take a different direction than we thought, but it was not a bad direction at all. The set had a lot of moving parts and was not all hard stuff like we may have thought. It rolled out a lot of music and we were not upset about any of it. It was a very electric set that was a pleasant surprise at every turn.
Seven Lions: With open arms, Seven Lions welcomed us right back into sad boi szn. He brought all of the emotion, and he brought it in all sorts of ways. He was blowing minds and crossing genre lines. This set is exactly the type of thing that causes one single solitary tear to stroll slowly down your face. It was extravagant and euphoric. We could not have asked for a better note to leave the Electric Forest gates on, one last time.
It feels so surreal writing this and thinking we saw all of these incredible artists. The way that all of this was the backdrop to some of the best moments of our lives is astonishing. And trumping that is the fact that there was so much that we didn’t see. So much that was out there waiting and giving the same types of moments and backdrops to others. We cannot do justice to talking about Electric Forest without being wildly grateful for everything that the artists and their music provide. So a huge shoutout to every artist we named, to every artist we saw at RV’s and couldn’t name, and to every artist that was there making Forest so unique for thousands of people.
Done Wells and Needs Work
Electric Forest could not have been executed any better. The set-up of stages, the line-up of artists, the community it cultivates: all of these things are something that you can find nowhere else. So we can’t even really say ‘Done Wells’ because Electric Forest is just a well-done. It rings in our books as a step above what we thought EDM culture could curate. From fairy houses full of goodies to a working barber shop, there are very few things that we could even think to ask for. It still is just so unbelievable.
With nothing to add to Electric Forest, we really only see a couple of things to possibly tweak. So our suggestions for Forest come down to merch and bathrooms.
Merch first, we just thought that such an amazing event could have been better commemorated with some merch that does it justice. To us, the merch was not up to the level of wonder that the festival was. Of course, there were thousands of other places to buy souvenirs (which we capitalized on) but we felt the official merch booth should have featured items that embodied Electric Forest more strongly. This also is just a preference of ours, because there is no doubt in our minds that so many people did resonate with what they were selling.
Obviously, bathrooms are always a subject of discussion in our reviews. With such a massive amount of people, there are a lot of people that have to hit the port-o-potties at any time. Hordes of bodies headed to the bathrooms always created a traffic jam. Getting in and out of the bathroom areas was a real chore. A chore which was intensified by the narrow fenced areas the bathrooms were located in. Each bathroom alley only had one entrance/exit. Traffic constantly moving both ways and long lines were just a tough battle. We thought possibly having an entrance and an exit could help. However, our dream idea would be to have the bathroom lines facilitated by staff. Similar to the way that water refill stations work, the volunteers could usher persons into the restrooms as they open. This would alleviate crowding and be sure everyone could get in and out smoothly.
And that is that. Our first Electric Forest is in the books. We are so glad to have been a part of the 2019 Electric Forest. We for sure have the post-fest blues after this one, but that is only because it was such an escape from reality. Dance music and love just polluted the air for five straight days; in our books, there is nothing as refreshing as that. We would like to close by saying: 1. If you get the chance to go to Forest, DO IT. 2. Thank you to every hand that helped plan, build, host, and play Electric Forest 2019. 3. Shout out to our friends that we were with for the weekend, the friends that we made, and everyone that we encountered. 4. Lastly, we are honored that you made it through this whole post with us, as we only scratched the surface of living the awesome long weekend that we did.
Until next time.