Festival Rewind: 2012 Electric Forest Festival

Every year Electric Forest Festival is one of our favorites. This place is simply magical and Madison House + Insomniac know how to throw one hell of a party. We have some more 2013 preview stuff coming soon, but we wanted to take a look back at what made 2012’s EFF so special.

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“…the trip back through Sherwood was now under the cover of darkness and everything came alive. I walked dropjawed through the amazing red pine forest, soaking it all in like I do each and every time in that place. I’m convinced Sherwood Forest is medicine that goes directly to my soul.”

“That forest is so just so damn distracting — a “quick” trip can turn into an hour of gawking, giggling, and getting weird in a hurry.”

“There’s just no way they could keep topping themselves with Sherwood Forest but the most uniquely magical festival grounds got even crazier this year. From year one with Rothbury until now, the transformation the forest has undergone is remarkable. There were more elements than ever, with a new clock tower and a “Sollun” that was a new sorta ‘secret’ music area — nearly everything was enhanced.”

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“Instead of the massive swells and drops that were ubiquitous at EFF, Hawtin utilized a very deft hand in weaving small tendrils of tracks in and out of the mix, tucking lithe threads into one another like a musical linen. There wasn’t a single drop to be found, instead there were multiple times where the myriad sounds he manipulated would just come together, creating a blossoming sensation all while being driven by that swelling 120-130 bpm rhythm.”

“Hawtin’s brand of electronic music was just so different from the everything else featured at EFF. I was entranced for this entire set, entirely unable to leave this stage until the final wisps of music. I was blown away. In fact, this is probably the best set of pure electronic music I’ve ever seen in a festival setting. Richie Hawtin is a virtuosic talent, and EFF hit a grand slam booking this guy as a counterpoint to the norm. There isn’t anyone better they could have found to diversify the EDM fare. This set was a revelation.”

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“Being in a photo pit at a Bassnectar set is one of the coolest things I’ve done as a music journalist. I spun around a few times and couldn’t help but burst out joy-laughing at the scene behind me.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: out of all these bigtime bass music guys right now, Bassnectar engineers the most devastating drops. He is a fully licensed, PhD holding Doctor of Drops.”

 “I cannot recommend the waterpark highly enough; it’s the perfect oasis in the middle of a wooked out, scorching hot weekend. A little twist of vacation in an otherwise exhausting endeavor.”

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“I was standing near the middle of the crowd when all of a sudden a huge octopus puppet emerged and spread out over the a 20 foot circle of people. There is no other festival that puts such an emphasis on weird stuff for you to encounter on the grounds. There were multiple people all weekend dressed in animal costumes, a bunch of mushrooms running around, and a troupe of female mimes. There’s already enough stuff at EFF to challenge your perception of reality, but there’s nothing quite like unexpectedly stumbling into a giant praying mantis while traversing a crowd in the dark with a weird head.”


Photo by Chad Smith

“There is no group on the planet as intricately beautiful as Thievery Corporation. It’s like floating through the most comfortable clouds, soaring aloft in this sensual & flowing musical fluid. Everybody around me was glowing, smiles were swept across every person’s face I saw. After that set I was positively radiant. I’m not even sure if my feet touched the ground for the next hour.”

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“Once again, Ranch Arena sounded impeccable, now it was Cheese’s turn to step up and take the reins of their festival. They came out for the encore, what seemed like a standard “Desert Dawn” at first. But this was no ordinary jam, all of a sudden we were plunged into the middle of “Desert Dawn-step.” The EOTO Incident, if you will. It was an abrupt change, so very deftly maneuvered that it pulled a powerful gasp from the audience. There was a certain segment of people who went apeshit at the drop, and there were definitely some that were totally confused & dismayed. I loved it. The way they dropped in and pulled back from this aggressive dubstep jam was brilliant. SCI takes a lot of heat for doing stuff like this, but I applaud their moxey for attempting it, and their skill for pulling it off so well. This is what Cheese at Electric Forest is all about.”

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“…there’s no question that the sound quality at Electric Forest is absolutely top shelf. I didn’t hear a single soundboard flub or glitch, the sound was always perfectly crisp, and somehow it was always perfectly loud whether I was in the photo pit or out in the crowd. And it was like this at every stage, all the time. There’s no one thing that points to how they pull off perfect sound, but it definitely contributes to the magic of Electric Forest.”

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Jeremy Frazier is the editor-in-chief of Soundfuse.