Top 5 Sets
5. String Cheese Incident (across the whole festival)
I didn’t see one entire show the whole weekend and only caught one entire set. For shame. The fact that I didn’t see more Cheese is easily my biggest regret of the weekend. But what I did see was enough to prove to me, yet again, that String Cheese Incident is one of the best jambands on the planet. These guys get it. They’re sharp, playful, and downright powerful at times. Cheese sets at EFF are simply a ridiculous amount of fun.
4. STS9 (Saturday night)
I had a feeling heading into this show that it was gonna be an amazing Tribe show and I my suspicions were 100% confirmed. They played a great setlist and sounded fantastic all night. It was yet another extended STS9 show at Double JJ Ranch and it was sublime. And they ended the night with “Circus.” Doesn’t really get much better than that.
I finally got to see a full set from these guys and it kicked ass in every way. All of their songs translated to a big stage surprisingly well and their live show was as engaging as I could have hoped. This is a band with hilarious energy and a wildly danceable sound. It didn’t hurt to have Big Gigantic join them for the last few songs, including a ridiculous “Doses & Mimosas.” Watch out for this band, I’m telling you, they’ll be everywhere next year.
1b. Richie Hawtin
Simply one of the most brilliant sets of EDM I’ve ever seen at a festival. Hawtin’s techno was a breath of fresh air for EFF and brought a club atmosphere to Double JJ Ranch for the first time all weekend. This guy is a legend for a reason. If you get the chance to Richie Hawtin, do NOT pass it up. He is the prototype answer to every button pusher argument; this guy’s skill is otherworldly. He’s what highly technical & virtuosic EDM is all about.
1a. Thievery Corporation
It was tough to say that anything was better than Mr. Hawtin, but in terms of pure fun and beautiful music, Thievery Corporation stood above all the rest. Their full band approach to live electronic music was also refreshing in a lineup full of one man acts. So much percussion, all kinds of horns, sitar, singing, rapping, and some of the most gorgeous electronic production on the planet. It was the collision of so many human influences, all presented in a bold electronic package. Thievery was the ideal headliner for Electric Forest. I soaked up every second of this set and loved it all. It’s mind-boggling to me that Ranch Arena wasn’t packed to the brim for this show, because it was the best of the entire weekend.