Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Festival Coverage: FPT goes to Electric Forest - Festival Preview

It's that time of year again, that's right, Festival Season. While some people tremble in fear at the thought of music festivals, we here at FPT say bring it on. And this year we start with Michigan's Electric Forest, stacked with sought-after names like String Cheese Incidient, Pretty Lights, Yeasayer, Passion Pit, and Empire of the Sun, and countless others.

Recently making an appearance on travel website, Jetsetter's list of The World's Best Music Festivals, what makes this festival anymore appealing than the last? Well this year EF offers expanded philanthropic efforts, combined with its lineup and environment - located deep within the forests of Rothbury, Michigan.  

Located in the heart of the grounds, a place called Sherwood Forest is the pulse of the festival and a place that truly needs to be experienced to be appreciated. During the day explore the various art installations or relax in one of the many hammocks that hang between the trees in preparation for the lavish light display, that comes to life at night. Sherwood Forest is one of the most talked about and visited areas of the festival, offering music day and night including unannounced surprise performances. 

Electric Forest proves that a festival can be more than just one big party by offering its own fan engagement platform. The "Plug In" Program is a unique "open source" way for the festival's community members to get involved. Embracing the creative process, the Plug In Program ultimately offers a fun way to embrace the creative process through various events and contests which will help shape the look and feel of the Electric Forest Experience. 

If you want to give back, other opportunities are readily available such as the non-profit organization, Conscious Alliance. From a personal standpoint, I've witnessed this program at similar festivals and it's an opportune way to give back, while taking home memorabilia like limited edition screen prints, posters and other artworks. In 2012 Electric Forest also partnered with the non-profit re-naming its food drive to the Roy Prince Memorial Food Drive encouraging attendees to donate non-perishables. 

Before we dive into the 2013 Artist Lineup, sustainability is an important and
reoccurring theme at just about any relevant festival. The program, Electricology, was a large success in 2012 with the reduction of waste through sustainable products, composting and recycling. The interesting feature this program has to offer is when you properly dispose of your waste at one of the "EcoZones" you are actually rewarded with points which can be redeemed at the Electricology Store, also giving attendees the chance to win signed artist merchandise, private shows, etc. A clean festival is better than a dirty one and Electric Forest provides all the right tools to keep the environment sanitary and sustainable.

On to the main attraction, the lineup. Electric Forest 2013 features artists ranging from just about every genre imaginable including, but not limited to:

The String Cheese Incident (3 Shows), Pretty Lights, Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, Knife Party, Above & Beyond, Lotus, Benny Benassi, Yeasayer, Beats Antique, GrizMatik, Grimes, Holy Ghost!, Nervo, Eoto, Future Rock, Orchard Lounge the Polish Ambassador, Flosstradamus, Railroad Earth, Pigs on the Wing, GrizMatik, Morgan Page, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Future Rock and many more. To view the full lineup I encourage you to visit the official Electric Forest website.

Although Electric Forest is packed jaw dropping names, especially from the EDM scene, one of the many beautiful aspects of this festival is the opportunity to discover new music. Below I compiled a shortlist of some "must see" artists that should not be overlooked.

In no particular order:

The String Cheese Incident:
Love them or hate them, we have to pay some homage to one of America's most significant bands spanning a career over 14 years. They have built an incredibly large and devoted fan base, being recognized for their commitment to musical creativity and integrity and innovative approach to the business of music. With a reputation for being a true "live band" and playing all three nights, there really isn't a reason to see them at least once.

Empire of the Sun:
Quite possibly one of the most anticipated acts of 2013, Empire of the Sun took the music scene by surprise with 2008's highly praised and critically acclaimed Walking on a Dream. The Australian duo are back with their highly anticipated Ice on the Dune, which is to be released just a few weeks prior to Electric Forest so you can definitely expect some new material. With their widely praised and outlandish live performances, Empire of the Sun is without a doubt a must see.

There are few bands in particular that I have been buzzing about from their start, and Yeasayer is one of them. 2007's All Hour Cymbals offered sounds ranging from experimental rock to neo-psychedella, making it one of the most significant albums of the 2000s. 2010's Odd Blood and their most current release, Fragrant World expanded their meaning of experimentation, featuring a broad range of genres, the group has managed to carve out a unique identity for themselves. Yeasayer are truly making 21st century music, EF eloquently described Fragrant World, "Couched in healthy fear, yet unafraid to move forward and expand, pulling in new influences just as frequently as new worries, Yeasayer have created a difficult, dense and beautiful record. It's as much a synthesis of the last three decades of pop music as it is a new way of grappling with the end of time."

Reptar is quite possibly one of the most underrated up and coming bands to appear in the music world over the last few years and is hands down one of the bands I am most eager to experience again. Inspired by world-music the band has built a unique "blend of danceable and electro fused pop." They continue to gain praise over their highly energetic, intimate yet "riotous, must see live show" and we at FPT can attest to that.

Holy Ghost!:
Currently signed to DFA Records (LCD Soundsystem, Yacht), Holy Ghost! are an American synthpop duo from Brooklyn, NY. With an interesting range of vocal accompaniment, the duo is largely known for their dance grooves, resulting in an unforgettable live experience.

I feel like Grimes has been a reoccurring name since Claire Boucher created the project in 2010. I also feel foolishly uneducated when it comes to the artist even though I am strongly familiar with the name. Combining her electronic, experimental, indie-dream pop with her visually appealing live performance, Grimes is an artist I am eager to see.

Passion Pit:
The Massachusetts group formed in 2007 and released the Chunk of Change EP a year later. Despite its positive reviews I personally feel the 6 track EP is often overlooked even though it holds some of their best work to date. It also cleared the path for what would become their widely recognized debut LP, titled Manners and eventually Gossamer, both brilliant, highly successful electro-pop albums.

This project consists of drummers, Michael Travis and Jason Hann, EOTO is a group that has been swarming the festival scene for years. With an industry so heavily saturated with electronic acts, this group continues to rise to the top with their innovative live performance, organic instruments and "uncharted musical exploration." Eoto is widely known for their live setup, performing nearly 200 shows a year with each show different than the last.

Lotus is one of those live bands I fell in love with early on in college and although they have long since elaborated on their early funk driven jam sound, they still bring heavy dance beats and synth to the stage. Lotus has crafted a unique musical style outside of simple genre limitations, resulting in a highly infectious show.

Eliott Lipp:
Synthesizer enthusiast Eliot Lipp un-expectantly became one of the most popular artists in the contemporary electronic music scene. Lipp is known to use vintage gear creating a unique modern sound taking influence from Hip Hop and House. He is one of the industry's most influential musicians widely respected throughout the world.

I'm not sure I can say it much better than EF here: "Throughout all of it, the dance jams, the abused samples, the widely swaying moods and tempos, Lesser Evil is sewn together by the distinctive tones in Woodhead's voice, ranging from the tender femininity of Sunrise and Holographic Sandcastles, to full-blown, tripped out howling on She is the Wave. A bold and varied offering that never once waivers when it comes to ingenuity, energy and imagination." Doldrums is known to leave audiences capitvated and energized.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue:
Dubbed as "Supafunkrock," and with over 200 shows in the last year, the group continues to push their own limitations to explore new musical territory. Talk about diversity at a festival, this group pushes the limits of your traditional brass band incorporating elements of jazz, rock, funk & hip hop.

That's a short list of great acts from this year's lineup, and for more information on the full artist lineup, tickets, the programs mentioned above or any FAQ's you might have visit: www.electricforestfestival.com

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