TVD Live: Electric Forest Festival, 6/23

What should have been a 4 hour drive from Chicago to Rothbury, Michigan turned into a 6 hour one thanks to construction in Indiana. After setting up our tent (shout out to our site—Camp Cher) we finally stepped foot into Electric Forest and made way to the Ranch Area just in time for Brazilian Girls to join String Cheese Incident on stage to perform their classic, “Pussy.” The moment was perfect and our travel woes began to fade away into the night. String Cheese then dove into a cover of Radiohead’s “National Anthem,” and I stood back to take a moment to scan the scene. And what a scene it was—neon totems bouncing in the air, stars in the sky, people dancing, singing, hugging. We had arrived.

While String Cheese took a break before their third set of the night, we made way to the Hangar to catch Kamasi Washington. But before we reached the Hangar we walked through Sherwood Forest—and the art installations throughout the area were so mind-bogglingly gorgeous, intricate, thoughtful, and dazzling that it’s hard to describe. So much color, movement, costumes, sculptures, shrines—it was almost impossible to process what we were seeing at first glance. A magical fairyland? An interactive art exhibit? A Renaissance Faire on acid? Yes. All of the above.

We arrived at the Hangar and were stunned again, this time because the Hangar is its own little interactive village. There’s a barber shop where actual haircuts are happening, a salon where women are getting their hair done, a candy store, a tattoo parlor, Mom’s kitchen serving up apple pie a la mode, a poetry brothel (more on that to come), a rec room filled with pool tables, ping-pong tables, and even a bowling alley. And in the middle of the main room there’s Kamasi Washington and his incredible band, underneath chandeliers of light, jazzing. I have literally never seen anything like this at a festival. I’m blown away.

After getting (temporary) tattoos at the parlor, we wandered back into the forest to find the Sherwood Court where Tycho was playing. However, it was dark and we didn’t have our bearings yet so we got lost—and didn’t really care about it. We stumbled across Chris Lake at the Forest Stage and watched, mesmerized, as a group of people danced with their light toys (there are more than just hula hoops now and I’m too old to know their names) to the music. Finally we discovered Sherwood Court and it’s a sea of moving colors grooving to Tycho. “What kind of paradise is this?!” I thought. The woods around us were neon, changing colors every few seconds and once again my senses were overloaded in the best way possible.

After Tycho, it was back to the forest, this time through a path we’d yet to travel. It took us to the Observatory, which can be best described as having the feeling of a Middle Eastern market, where a gorgeous electric violin, Dixon’s Violin, was singing through the air, setting the mood. Next up was Reincarnation Village, where we strolled through the Temple Art Gallery and watch dozens of artists sketch and paint around us. After witnessing two medics help two women find a pot lozenge they’d dropped on the forest ground—a comical scene—we made our way back to the Ranch Area to watch Odesza from the crowd. It was a beautiful scene and the music carried on into the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere around 2am we made way back to Camp Cher for some much-needed rest before the Saturday festivities began.









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