music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Electric Forest Preview

May 26, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski
Electric Forest 2018



Electric Forest has become a destination event in the summer music festival scene. Beautiful location, massive stages, a diverse and exciting lineup, and a culture that is all its own combine to make an annual event like no other. What started as an experiment in bringing divergent musical scenes together has grown into a festival that is a rite of passage for some and a wonderful annual tradition for others. While it has many of the elements of other festivals (multiple stages, big name headliners, primitive camping, and plenty of partying), it’s the extra work and small touches that the Electric Forest crew put in that make this festival truly special.

I always start with the environment and location when I’m talking about what sets Electric Forest apart. I’ve been to dozens of festivals around the country, and I’ve never seen a location quite like the Double JJ Ranch & Resort in Rothbury, MI. The venue area is so large that, unlike many other festivals, it’s easy to find a quiet place to rest and relax. The scenery is beautiful, with old trees to hang a hammock under, a nearby lake, and weather that is never less than wonderful. You can visit the Giving Tree and leave a gift for someone else. You can wander the paths and get lost in the Forest. Or just rest on the grass and enjoy the music.

It’s not just that the festival has a great location, it also matters that they put it to great use. Sherwood Forest is a major attraction all by itself. Enjoy the interactive artwork, hang out with the troops of actors and follow them around, or climb to the top of one of the towers for a unique perspective. There are telephones where you can talk to random Forest friends, comedy shows, poetry, fairy homes, and even a library you can hang out in. You can get married in the chapel (seriously), or go on a scavenger hunt. And that’s all just in the Sherwood Forest. In the Hangar you can even get a massage, a haircut, or play some foosball. You can also look for hidden stages, a brothel, and a speakeasy. Honestly, you can spend a whole weekend at Electric Forest just enjoying the fun “extras” that they put into place and have a wonderful time.

Electric Forest also offers unique events and programs throughout the weekend. As a heavily EDM-focused festival, Electric Forest has their fair share of producers on the lineup. Rather than just give them a slot, the festival allows some of their artists to have their own curated events. Electric Forest 2018 will have 10 different curated events over the 2 weekends, from Bassrush to mau5trap to Green Velvet’s LaLa Land. Each event will have its own unique feel and experience for fans. Electric Forest also offers ways for fans to get involved. Some of these include Electric Forces, a program created specifically for military veterans. Her Forest is a space for female attendees to attend female-centered workshops, interact with female artists, and even camp in a female-only camping section. The Wish Machine is a way for Forest fans to give back to their community and the Forest community and take an active role in making Electric Forest a special place. And all of this is just a small sample of the events and opportunities that Electric Forest gives to their fans to be a part of the festival and experience the event in their own unique way.

And, of course, the music is obviously a huge part of Electric Forest. The festival will once again be headlined by The String Cheese Incident and Bassnectar. I’m partial to the bands on the bill, and there are plenty to enjoy. Xavier Rudd, The Werks, The Main Squeeze, Fruition, Everyone Orchestra, Hiss Golden Messenger, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and Toubab Krewe are just some of the great bands that will grace the EFF stages. As for the more electronic or lesser known elements, I’m excited to see both Bonobo and Griz in live-band settings, EOTO, The Glitch Mob, The Shook Twins, The Comet is Coming, and Locos Por Juana, just to name a few.

The 2018 Electric Forest Festival will take place over two weekends at the end of June and beginning of July. Each weekend will have a unique lineup, unique sets from bands that play both weekends, and different curated events. Each weekend will have amazing art, an abundance of fun things to discover, excellent music, and great people. This is a weekend to get lost in the crowd, to try something new, and to meet people you never would have met before. It is as much fun as I can imagine having at a festival, and I’m looking forward to continuing my Forest experience in 2018.



Suwannee Hulaween announces lineup
The lineup for the Suwannee Hulaween festival gets more stacked every year. The 2018 festival will once again be hosted and headlined by The String Cheese Incident. Other artists on the bill include Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae, The Revivalists, STS9, Lettuce, Trampled by Turtles, The Wood Brothers, Galactic, Yonder Mountain String Band, Turkuaz, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and The Infamous Stringdusters. SCI also announced follow-up shows to Hulaween, and will be playing the Fillmore in Philadelphia on 10/31 and 11/1 as well as The Paladium in Worchester, MA on 11/2-3.

Holidaze announces lineup
Holidaze will move from the Dominican Republic to Mexico this year. The destination event will be held from December 12-16 and will feature The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ghost Light, and Orchard Lounge. If you really want to make it a trip combine it with Strings & Sol, which is happening at the same resort immediately before Holidaze.


May 24-27
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Bluegrass Congress, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers, Fruition, Billy Strings

Summer Camp
May 25-27
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Beats Antique, EOTO, Everyone Orchestra, Keller Williams, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Lettuce, Slightly Stoopid, Papadosio, Twiddle, Yonder Mountain String Band

Dark Star Jubilee
May 25-27
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Infamous Stringdusters, Hot Tuna, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Camp Greensky
May 31-June 2
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Jeff Tweedy, Trampled By Turtles, Fruition, Billy Strings

Purple Hatter’s Ball
June 1-2
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Lettuce, Spafford, Breaking Biscuits, Toubab Krewe, The Heavy Pets, Southern Ave.

Music on the Mothership
June 1-3
Taos, NM
moe., Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rising Appalachia, Antibalas, Assembly of Dust, Fruition, Nicki Bluhm, Melvin Seals

June 7-10
Manchester, TN
Eminem, Muse, The Killers, Bassnectar, The Revivalists, Rebelution, STS9, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Blue Ox Music Festival
June 14-16
Eau Claire, WI
Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Margo Price, Billy Strings

Mountain Jam
June 15-17
Hunter Mountain, NY
Jack Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, alt-J, The War On Drugs, Portugal. The Man, The Decembrists, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Rag n’ Bone Man, Turkuaz, The Record Company

Electric Forest Weekend 1
June 21-24
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Andy Frasco & The UN, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Road Jam
June 22-23
Two Roads Brewing Company
Stratford, CT
Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Motet, TAUK

Electric Forest Weekend 2
June 28-July 1
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

High Sierra
July 5-8
Quincy, CA
String Cheese Incident, Sturgill Simpson, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, Turkuaz, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Fruition, Spafford

Camp Bisco
July 12-14
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Excision, Bonobo, The Floozies, Lettuce, TAUK, Lotus, Papadosio

The Ride Festival
July 14-15
Telluride, CO
The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something

Peach Festival
July 19-22
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Gov’t Mule, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dicky Betts, moe., Twiddle, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Blackberry Smoke, Turkuaz, Leftover Salmon, The Main Squeeze,

Northwest String Summit
July 19-22
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams, Fruition, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers

July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger

Element Music Festival
July 26-29
Snug Lake Ampitheatre
British Columbia
Lotus, Spafford, Particle

Werk Out Festival
August 2-4
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
The Werks, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Lettuce, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Turkuz

Summer Meltdown Festival
August 2-5
Darrington, WA
Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Beats Antique, Papadosio, Twiddle, Pimps of Joytime

August 17-19
Wellston, VA
Dawes, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Larry Keel, Steppin’ In It, Jon Stickney Trio, The Crane Wives

August 23-26
Arrington, VA
Dead & Company, Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Sheryl Crow, Lettuce, George Clinton & P-Funk, Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Waterloo Festival
September 8-9
Carson Creek Ranch
Austin, TX
The String Cheese Incident (3 nights), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Railroad Earth, The Motet, Boombox, TAUK, Marco Benevento

FreshGrass Festival
September 14-16
North Adams, MA
Trampled By Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band, Indigo Girls, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Steep Canyon Rangers

The Festy Experience
October 5-7
Arrington, VA
Greensky Bluegrass, Gillian Welch, Railroad Earth, Sam Bush Band, Della Mae, Fruition, Carbon Leaf, Bonnie Paine

Hillberry Music Festival
October 11-14
Railroad Earth, Trampled By Turtles, Sam Bush, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Split Lip Rayfield

Suwannee Hulaween
October 25-28
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
The String Cheese Incident, Jamiroquai, Odesza, The Revivalists, STS9, Lettuce, Trampled by Turtles, Medeski, Martin, & Wood, Galactic, Turkuaz, The Wood Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

Strings & Sol
December 7-11
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon

December 12-16
Puerto Morelos, MX
The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ghost Light

Winter Wondergrass Vermont
December 14-16
Stratton, VT

Tropical Throe.down
January 10-14
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
moe., The New Mastersounds, Big Something

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!