What You Missed at Electric Forest 2017

Music In Minnesota ventures out to Michigan for their infamous music festival Electric Forest.


Last updated on February 18th, 2022 at 09:27 pm

As I sit down and reflect on my time at Electric Forest, I can already feel myself missing it. As someone who has been to 9 different festivals prior to it, I can say that electric Forest offers an entirely new experience, unique to itself.  It’s one that I won’t ever forget and that I think everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Throughout the excitement the weekend had to offer, I began creating a mental diary of my time at the Forest. Each day brought me something new and made for stories to share with those who may be interested in the festival that I can only begin to describe as magical.

Day 1: 

To start things off, true to our newbie status, we did not order a Wednesday early arrival pass (a mistake which I will not be making next year!). We did, however, upgrade to the RV life which was completely worth it (as any festival goer would vouch for) in order to escape the mud. Unfortunately, we rolled in around 7:00, causing us to miss three sets we had planned for that day. We went through the various checkpoints, emptying out our cars and camper to be searched, made it through to the campgrounds, and set up our home for the next four days.



The rain started up again right as we were leaving to catch our sets for the end of the night. My friend Bri and I were devastated as Above and Beyond was a huge pull to the festival for us. Very dedicated to seeing the forest and the set we decided to brave the rain! We walked past the Tripolee stage, grabbed some beers, and headed into the forest to the Ranch Arena Stage. Above and Beyond did not disappoint. Their mix of soothing beats that turn into mysterious adventures kept the crowd going throughout their entire set. The rain sprinkled on and off, but no one seemed to care. My favorite part of their set was the notes they wrote to their fans on the video wall throughout the set prompting emotional responses and deeper thinking. Some of my favorites included: You’re surrounded by your future best friends. Talk to strangers, help the fallen, hug the happy because we are family. How does it feel? This is for the ones who left too soon. And lastly, Follow your heart. The rain began to come down again towards the end of the set so we decided to return back to our campsite and wait until the next day to see what else the forest had to offer.

Day 2:  

The second day marked our first full day experiencing Electric Forest! We woke up at the crack of dawn (9 am) and started getting ready for the day. The previous day we had met a friend, Chris, who stopped by and painted everyone’s faces which seemed to be a hit with fellow festival attendees. You can check out his work here: From there, we headed into the forest to shop around and view some art before catching Matisyahu at the Ranch Arena stage. He is known for his reggae-esque beats that he mixes with Jewish influences. His sound is describable as hip hop meets beachy vibes and the crowd was definitely vibing off of the beats and smooth lyrics. Next, we headed over to Liquid Stranger B2B (Back to back, when two artists perform one set together) with Space Jesus at the Tripolee stage. This was definitely a change of pace, combining the two styles with their common bass-driven sounds, making this set the kind to get down and dirty too. It was also the muddiest stage so it really encompassed the experience at all levels. This was also where all the totems seemed to converge for the moment. I will be investing in one for next year as they are the most ingenious way to find your friends when there is no cell reception. We headed over through the forest next to catch Big Wild at the Sherwood Court stage. This was also our first time we were really able to take in the forest during the daytime. My favorite part was seeing some princesses in the forest doing a tarot reading for some foresters in addition to the art sprinkled everywhere. It was like being transported into a whole different universe to only scratch the surface of what it felt like.



Big Wild was a set that you could not stand still for. When you looked at the crowd everyone was moving and dancing around to his unique EDM style that made you feel like you were starting a new adventure with every song. Next, we visited the Ranch Arena stage yet again to catch the third part of String Cheese for that day. They are a MUST see if you are at Electric Forest. Taking a folkier turn to our day, it was a lovely experience taking in the different instruments and sway of the crowd. It definitely had me thinking we should have seen all three phases of their set. We walked around for a bit longer to take in some of the forest in the nighttime. The vibrant lights and neon glow was so transformative I would have never known I was in the same place earlier that day. Foresters had truly made themselves at home sitting on the forest floor, or setting up their own hammocks in any space where they weren’t prohibited. The low mumble of “Happy Forest” to each other everywhere you went made it feel like we were all truly part of a community that people waited year round to get to. My favorite part of this night was the garden of grass that eased in and out of different neon shades, which had everyone looking at it full of wonder and awe.


Finally pulling ourselves out of this different world, we headed back to the Ranch Arena to take in some Odesza. This set was absolutely life changing. The music was so soft transitioning in and out of the bass driven beats and had many oohs and awes of the crowd to accompany it. The live drum line was an addition that brought the electronic sounds to life. The only way to describe this set was dreamlike. Next, we headed to Nero at Tripolee for some more tracks that make your face scrunch up in the greatest way. Just before EF started it was announced that Alana Watson, the female vocalist, is pregnant and taking some time off of the touring, so many congratulations to her!  Although it was not a live set the crowd got down just the same. By far the song Promises was a huge crowd pleaser that everyone around me was belting out the lyrics to in Alana’s absence.

Day 3:

On this lovely day, we woke up at the ripe time of 11:00 am. But we could not be blamed, I mean Nero’s set did start at 2 am. After wondering around in the forest for a bit we came across a new area that we had not been before! It was called the Jive Joint. Everyone was sitting around, either on the forest floor or benches listening to the host have a conversation with a “higher being” that he finally came to call God, for eases sake. A little while into the conversation Jesus came in and asked God to lay off on the omnipresence because he wanted to catch Bassnectar’s set with his friends. After getting in a couple more good laughs we moved on to the Grand Artique! This was also full of chuckling and giggles as performers would take the stage and be judged in the most outrageous ways my favorite being something along the lines of “I give this… a CEO meeting in the bathroom above a nose bleed.” Completed with a wonderful drawing! We then headed to meet at the Ranch Arena stage for The Floozies, another personal favorite. They always deliver such funky beats that you can’t help but all out dance for. This one had the addition of a live horn section which was something new for me as I’ve seen them a handful of times!



After dancing around and meeting a couple people who were enjoying the set as well we sat down for a break and waited for My Morning Jacket to start. Another set that I had been told is a life changer they did not let us down! This was the kind of set where you could not know any of their songs and still have a great time. A highlight for our crew was their cover of Purple Rain by Prince. We were off to Sherwood Court to catch Illenium next! The only way I could describe this set was grand. His set was full of melodic highs and lows that everyone in the crowd appreciated. I don’t know if the crowd went crazy but I admittedly did when he played his newer single Feel Good feat. Daya (*insert drooling emoji here). We ended our night with some Bassnectar, who became a resident artist at Electric Forest in 2016. I have seen Bassnectar a handful of times as well, but this set won me over. Could have been the crowd, or the atmosphere, the lasers or the music but he nailed it. After the well-deserved fireworks show at the end of his set, we headed home! Well, we headed back to the camper kind of home.

We ended our night with some Bassnectar, who became a resident artist at Electric Forest in 2016. I have seen Bassnectar a handful of times as well, but this set won me over. Could have been the crowd, or the atmosphere, the lasers or the music but he nailed it. After the well-deserved fireworks show at the end of his set, we headed home! Well, we headed back to the camper kind of home.

Day 4:

For our final day, I actually set an alarm and surprisingly was able to get up and moving for some 11:30 yoga! By the end, my limbs felt rejuvenated and ready for another day of dancing and taking in the glorious festival. Our first set was at Sherwood Court with Matoma. He was a serious crowd pleaser with his throwback’s and overall light fun set. Towards the end of the set, it started raining again, and we took cover underneath a beer tent near the stage, I certainly wasn’t complaining. The rain subsided for Snakehips to start and we ventured out into the crowd to enjoy the show!  Snakehips had a very eclectic set mixing a lot of hip hop and lyrical forward EDM that was easy to bounce along with. Specifically their song All My Friends had the crowd singing along and going crazy.



Once Snakehips was ending their set we hurried to the Ranch Arena to enjoy some greatly anticipated Dillon Francis! Midway through his set Dillon played a solid mix of throwbacks, our groups favorite being My Chemical Romance’s Welcome to the Black Parade because let’s be honest, we all used to be a little bit emo. The set ended a little too soon (only because I could jam out to his show for hours) with some fireworks and his song Love in the Middle of a Firefight. BUT ALAS! The festival was not done yet! After this, we went right back to Sherwood Court to enjoy some Big Gigantic before calling the festival a huge success (which really we had been saying since day one). Big G was the premier way to end the night for us. Many of our crew had not seen him before and were in awe of his mix of saxophone headed jams. Although we had already seen him for a second feature in the Illenium set it was fantastic to finally see his full performance. We all slowly wandered our separate ways to enjoy the forest one last time and headed back to the campsite. We sat outside of our RV and talked over the weekend a little, and the common consensus was, despite we all swore this would only be a one-time thing due to adulting, we would be back next year. Let’s be honest, we would be back next year for BOTH weekends.


Written by Anna Paulson


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