With hundreds of acts over the two weekends of Electric Forest, it’s hard to decide what acts stood out. (Think we all agree on The String Cheese Incident four-hour experience, right?) Genres spanned from dubstep DJs to large jam bands to swing music accompanied by burlesque dancers to the sweet sound of rock n’ roll. Visuals, stage designs, characters wandering through the crowd, and the enthralled festival goers, all made the musical performances truly unique experiences. Sure, we can list a ton of music that caught our ears and made us want to dance through the trees, but make sure you add what we are considering the standout artists of the Forest below to your weekly listening routine and must-see-at-a-festival list! We promise it’s a good idea…
Largest Performance Range: Big Gigantic
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been following Dominic and Jeremy’s musical duo’s career for eight years now. We challenge you to find a great festival without these guys on the bill. To step up the level of awesomeness specifically for Electric Forest, something truly unique that we haven’t seen before, performing with over six other bands and artists in one weekend! Big Gigantic performed their own set filled with special guests along with integrating their act into two other sets during the weekend!
Thursday night, Big Gigantic played a similar set to Bonnaroo, pulling out all their hits like “Good Times Roll” mixing in older tracks with their new remixes. To step up from their usual performance, they had two other brass musicians and a female vocalist / trumpet player Jennifer Hartswick join their touring act. They even invited guests Cherub on stage! Later in the set, they even brought out Waka Flocka to the stage to perform some of his songs the made the stage lit – literally – fire set off to bring the show to another level.
To balance out their heavy night high-energy set that pulled out ALL the stops, Big Gigantic played a surprise jam jazz rock sesh titled “Big Gigantic Funk Odyssey” with band members from Lettuce and Motet during the day at the Observatory. As if two collaborative sets weren’t enough, Big Gigantic joined the stage with The String Cheese Incident in a plethora of songs later that night!
Psychedelic Experience: Papadosio
Papadosio’s set on Thursday was just as much a visual experience as it was an audio one. Their space rock, jammy sound took us on a journey as our eyes fluttered across the screens displaying beautiful pastel art. The band has an exciting summer festival lineup leading into their Shapeshiftour.
United Through Beats: Bassnectar
During a weekend FILLED with electronic music and solo DJs across all the main stages, it’s really hard for a DJ to stand out. Many beats and mixes sounded familiar from the day or even hours before, and with all artists trying to reach the same heavy tech level no matter what time of day it was, a lot of the music blended together into one sound. However, as usual, Bassnectar hit the stage last Sunday night to reunite all festival goers on to the main field for one last dance.
His intro caught everyone’s attention as his vibrational sound wave matched visual sound waves on the screens. Bassnectar Ambassadors handed out ear plugs and water to spread the sense of community. We were treated to new tracks off his latest album release, Reflective, with just the smallest hint of “808” snuck in. And everyone seemed to head bang in unison – because what else does one do during a Nectar set?
Best Discovery: Southern Avenue
This Memphis band does not kid around. Southern Avenue caught our attention audibly, and once we made our way into the stage area to see who was rocking this powerful voice and raw guitar sounds, we were completely drawn in. All their energy and passion sets the stage on fire with their mix of youthful rock and the old soul of rhythm and blues. They released their debut self-titled album earlier this year and are already sharing their lively performance at The Observatory Stage at Electric Forest. Not too shabby.