Featuring the biggest names in the world of EDM, Electric Forest has become a life-changing experience for those who make the annual pilgrimage to the massive park in Rothbury, Michigan. This year’s rendition, held from June 22-25, featured Odesza, Illenium, Sofi Tukker, Zed’s Dead, and many of the world’s biggest rising DJs!
Driving on Highway 31 from Chicago, you slowly start to see more and more Griz bumper stickers, Illenium flags, and RVs draped in party lights. The excitement slowly built, and the anticipation was at a pinnacle point.
For many, the forest is home. It’s the only place that they feel like they can be themselves. This community is built around love, positivity, and inclusion.
Also, an insane lineup.
While the festival leans heavily towards House, Techno, Dubstep, Heavy Bass, and many other sub-genres of EDM, there were quite a few non-EDM acts.
Also featuring rock bands like Goose, Flipturn, Dogs In A Pile, and The String Cheese Incident, Electric Forest 2023 was truly a magical experience for any music lover.
Besides the actual music, there was so much to explore in the forest. All weekend long, there were hidden art installations deep in the forest, brand activations, easter eggs, visually stunning stages, and fantasy worlds brought to life.
There was a sea of campsites with the most creative and festive decorations. The common theme amongst people in the forest is friendliness and love for your neighbor. People look out for each other, celebrate together, and make sure that everyone is having fun. Your camping neighbors will likely have elaborate costumes, flags donning their favorite DJ, and probably an industrial-grade speaker blasting dubstep.
Walking to the festival entrance, you saw massive and, frankly, funny festival totems. You see elaborate and intricately designed stages. There were massive Ferris wheels, vendors with the classic festival foods and clothing stands for all the ravers out there. Oh, and lights. Lights everywhere. The intricacy of the lights at night was breathtaking. They wire lights and speakers all along the trees in the forest and it truly makes it one of the most unique and visually stunning places in the world.
Deep in the forest, the experience is enchanting and almost unbelievable. It feels as if you’ve been transported to a place that doesn’t exist, almost like a dreamscape. With mirrored mushroom sculptures, massive trampoline-hammocks, time travel booths, mystical libraries, and so much more, the forest is truly alive with positivity and dreamlike experiences.
Now, onto the actual music. It’s so easy to forget that Electric Forest is a music festival, by the sheer number of surreal activities and sights to explore.
Thursday June 22nd
Odesza, Sofi Tukker, Emotional Oranges
Odesza absolutely killed their 11:45pm set on the massive Ranch Arena stage. It was almost universally understood that Odesza was the one show that day where you drop what you’re doing and go watch. The duo knows how to build the tension and electricity in the crowd so well, It’s truly a gift.
Sofi Tukker put on such a fun set at Ranch Arena. They incorporate call-response into their shows more than most DJs, and they achieve more fan participation as a result. I also love the way they switch up styles and even languages in their set, with the duo playing some songs in Portuguese and incorporating similar elements into the show.
Emotional Oranges offered us a refreshing R&B set in the middle of a heavy Bass day. Their set was the perfect palate cleanser in the EDM heavy lineup, with their hit “West Coast Love” lowering the RPM on the Sherwood Court stage. Also, I love their new song, “Wrong Hands.” It’s light and refreshing; glad to see R&B is still holding it down.
CID can put on a chill rave, a rarity in the Electronic Dance world. His song, “Nights Like This” with Loud Luxury, is one of the best pregame songs out there, in my opinion. His set was full of energy and perfectly set the mood for a night of partying.
Friday June 23rd
String Cheese Incident, Illenium, 070 Shake, Lane 8
String Cheese Incident is one of the most iconic jam bands out there, with creative on-stage flair and a storied discography. These guys were a refreshing non-EDM act at night, playing on the Ranch Arena stage. They brought the same intensity as any DJ out there, but they just do it in a little more style and grace.
Illenium has been on the most impressive live show run of the year, besides maybe Taylor Swift. Recently playing the biggest selling EDM headlining event in U.S. history, Illenium is absolutely killing the game. His sets are magical, with insane lighting and production value, it was truly a sight to see. Another one of those shows where everyone dropped what they were doing and knew to head over to Ranch Arena to have their minds blown.
070 Shake has been killing it for a while now, especially her hit song, “Guilty Conscience.” Her set was fun and full of energy, but also personal and brimming with passion. I love seeing her live, she just has such an awesome vibe to her sets.
Lane 8 has a dreamy style of house music. It’s comforting, but also gets you in the party mindset. A perfect mix of chill house party and club banger. His set was awesome, and I highly recommend his songs “Road” and “Run” for your next party.
Saturday June 24th
Zeds Dead, Bob Moses, Elohim
Zeds Dead, one of the biggest EDM duos in the world, put on an absolute clinic this weekend. They know how to control the crowd so well, and can build the anticipation slowly, then drop the bass heavy.
Bob Moses is one of my favorite house duos out there. Their set at the Tripolee stage was legendary. It was fun, really fun. Their songs, “Inner Light” with Elderbook, and “Tearing Me Up” are slow builds, but they explode in the perfect way.
Elohim does electropop in a super unique and happy way. Almost dreamy, it draws you in with a childlike curiosity. Her set was awesome, seriously. Highly recommended seeing her live any chance you get. Her brand-new single, “Afraid To Fail” is so personal and raw, she opens up about life, then slams the door like a beat drop. Check it out!
Sunday June 25th
Dogs In A Pile, Goose, Apashe, Aluna
Dogs In A Pile are a super funky jam band that gave us such a pleasant break from all the EDM this weekend. They brought the energy like any DJ out there, but they know how to bring the BPM down and still have fun. Their set was melodic, spiritual, and just good vibes all around. It’s so obvious to the crowd when an artist is having fun onstage, and man, these guys were having a blast playing together. It was a beautiful change in pace that we all needed.
Goose is destined to become the reining voice in the jam band world. Their live shows are insane, and always draw massive crowds of the most adoring fans. I genuinely think that Goose had some of the most die-hard fans this weekend, and it was for good reason. These guys rock!
Apashe has one of the biggest and most unique sounds in the world of EDM. He somehow manages to build this grand soundscape that almost brings you to another period of time. It’s surreal and his live set was enchanting, you just couldn’t take your eyes off the Sherwood Court stage when he introduced his Live Brass Ensemble. A show to watch anytime he’s on the lineup.
Electric Forest 2023 was one of the most fun festivals I’ve ever been to. Highly recommended you block off the end of June every year to join the forest family. I promise, you won’t regret it.
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