Electric Forest Fights Through Flooding to Deliver Exceptional Event

Electric Forest Fights Through Flooding to Deliver Exceptional Event

caspa

This past weekend, River Beats Dance reporter Andrew Weissman was embedded at Electric Forest to document the festival. Read on to find out how it went.

Call it “Electric Rain-Forest” if you must, but the dedicated community of Sherwood showed they could weather any storm—literally. Despite a weekend of rain and hours of cancellations, the spirit of the community at Double JJ Ranch managed to “Shine Bright Despite the Plight” of a shortened weekend.

pretty lights
PC: Haley Cleaves

Although a tad bit muddier and rainier than some previous years, the Midwestern music festival heavyweight did not disappoint. A true spectacle in production and music curation, this year’s festival was a sensory overload of the best kind. Between immersive art displays, interactive exhibits, and stages elaborately decorated and interwoven with stacks of subwoofers and speakers, Electric Forest 2024 provided enough eye and ear candy to keep your spiritual appetite satiated.

electric forest
PC: Haley Cleaves

Returning to Rothbury for the first time since 2016, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease and efficiency of getting into the festival. Arriving around 11:45 PM on Wednesday, entry moved smoothly. Passing through security, wristband scanning, and setting up camp only took a little over an hour. Coordinators were intent on parking cars with little room between them for efficiency purposes and while it was totally understandable, it did create somewhat cramped campsites. On the bright side, it led to shorter walks and meant that even more people could enjoy the beauty of this incredible festival.

The Music

The forest has officially started trending to DJs and US bass music, replacing a once flourishing live band music lineup. The biggest sets by far were Pretty Lights, Levity, and LSZEE as far as the size and energy of the crowd goes. 

A literal superstar addition to the lineup this year, Ludacris was everything we wished he would be. Gliding with ease through his extensive catalog of classics, in true hip-hop fashion Luda performed with zero backtrack and plenty of crowd engagement.

ludacris
PC: Haley Cleaves

Playing all the hits, from “Get Back,” to more mainstream songs such as his verses in “Baby” (Justin Beiber) and “Glamorous” (Fergie), there was something for every fan in attendance to get down to.

Right after, OG UK bassweight legend Caspa provided a breath of fresh air from the ever-growing US bass sound at Tripolee.

His performance was a stirring demonstration to the younger dubstep-ers in attendance that emphasized the roots of deep tempo. It was a low-end masterclass from start to finish with favorites like “Cockney Thug” and plenty of old-school dubplates.

At the strike of midnight, Pretty Lights 2 ½ hr extended set at Ranch Arena surpassed my wildest expectations. The crew’s meticulous attention to detail can be seen through their ability to weave deconstructed bits and stems of beloved Pretty Lights songs with hip-hop, jazz, and other classic Americana samples. 

pretty lights
PC: Haley Cleaves

The result is plenty of creative freedom and what feels like an entirely new, organic version of every song. Electronic ensemble, jam band, intergalactic swirl bridge, the list of names people are calling this act is endless. Whatever it is, we hope it never stops.

Aside from PL, it was Sara Landry and Vennbee who really stole the show for me. Sara Landry  – someone who had been on my radar for some time – expressed very clearly why she is making such a ruckus in the dance scene as of late. The most charged performance of the weekend, Landry came locked and loaded Saturday night (at the Observatory) with an arsenal of techno dance floor belters that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Her set was so bonkers, she earned herself another slot on the very same stage the next night! 

Another gem hidden within the woods was 23-year old firecracker, Vennbee. A blend of breathtaking live vocals laid overtop gritty drum and bass was a standout in a lineup scarce of much-needed representation from the UK dance music scene. Performing with the charisma and stage presence of a veteran, alongside a medley of fast-paced drum breaks, Vennbee created one of the most intimate sets of the entire weekend.

Weather and Festival Management

Mother Nature threw a tantrum, but the festival organizers handled it like pros. On Saturday, rapidly moving bands of rain swept through causing minor flooding Although many attendees are upset with the evacuations and cancellations, I believe it was the right decision to suspend the festival on Saturday and Sunday – especially when dealing with the safety of 70,000 attendees. Luckily, the festival did an incredible job recovering and making do.

On Saturday, organizers quickly re-adjusted the lineup and opened the festival gates around 11:30 PM with a bang. As fans began to fill back in, now rested and recharged, the collective energy felt made the storm feel like it never happened. Sammy Virji, John Summit, and Subtronics all delivered sets that reminded attendees that battling the elements was worth it. That’s the spirit of the forest.

john summit
John Summit – PC: Haley Cleaves

However, the biggest heartbreak hit just after 11 PM on Sunday night when another emergency evacuation message simultaneously interrupted all performances at once sending patrons back to their campsites once again, and the eventual ending the weekend early.

Although many attendees are still upset by the cancellations and delays, the safety of upwards of 70,000 human beings must always be the highest priority. Faced with such tough decisions, I applaud the festival for doing so in a quick and timely manner. Speedy decision-making gave patrons enough time to get back to their campsites safely and calmly before the storms hit.

electric forest
PC: Haley Cleaves

All-in-all, the festival team did a fantastic job accommodating the massive crowd with an abundance of bathrooms, water filling stations, and diverse food and drink vendors. Sanitation earns a gold star, as bathrooms were cleaned daily and all the event staff were as cordial as can be.

After returning to Electric Forest after nearly a decade, it was mind-blowing to see them level up so hard. There are several reasons why Electric Forest has thrived over the years, and innovation is just one of them. After this year’s iteration, we have confidence that Electric Forest will continue to impress, dazzle, and amaze for another 12 years and beyond.

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