I wasn’t even supposed to be at Electric Forest this year. I had already spent four days in the desert back in April for Coachella and was in the process of packing my gear for Bonnaroo when fellow photographer and homie Kenny Jusino asked if I could cover Electric Forest for him. He had originally planned to shoot it himself but couldn’t make it due to the birth of his nephew scheduled for the same weekend. The weekend after Bonnaroo… I hesitated for a moment after checking the dates. I was leaving for ‘Roo the next day. Was I really ready for two massive festivals on back-to-back weekends? Could my body handle it? Bonnaroo is typically a grueling affair in the Tennessee sun (this year, however, the weather was perfect). My hesitation lasted mere seconds. As soon as I thought back to my only other time in the Forest in 2018, I immediately told Kenny I wanted the spot. I didn’t have any more vacation days at work, but somehow, I would find a way to do my two favorite festivals on back-to-back weekends.
Sometimes you just have to send it.
Fast forward a week, and I am home after Bonnaroo. Didn’t even unpack the car. Having only slept in my own bed twice and enjoyed just as many showers, I got back in the car and headed towards Michigan. I knew the Forest was a magical place, but as I drove North, head still reeling from last weekend’s festival and the exhaustion that came with it, all I could think about was how lucky I am to live the life I live. I truly didn’t think the Forest could add much to my already overflowing gratitude. I had already reached my blessing quota.
When I was younger, I used to attend festivals mainly for the music. I would meticulously plan my schedule to see all the artists I needed to and catch as many unheard-of acts as possible in between. Almost instantly I learned that festivals cannot be planned so rigidly. There needs to be room for you to relax and take it all in, which is hard if you’re always going towards the next thing.
Going into Electric Forest 2023, I had barely taken a look at the lineup. I couldn’t have named all the headliners at the time I rolled up to the box office in Rothbury, Michigan to pick up my press credentials and enter the festival. I never even got the chance to meticulously plot my schedule for the weekend. My plan was to just go with the flow and cover as much of the festival as I could, and to leave the best photos I could take. My mind was on other things. Things other than being present and making it the best experience possible for myself and those around me
The first day of the festival brought things into perspective almost instantly.
The energy in the air was electric as attendees explored this year’s forest for the first time. Amazing performances from Eazybaked, Sofi Tukker, Channel Tres and more set the bar for the entire weekend and shook the crowd out of their post-travel-camp-setup comas. Capping off the night was the first headliner of the weekend, Odesza, who brought the entire crowd to tears.
While walking back to camp, the crowd seemed to be in a daze. Odesza had set the bar so high, how could the following days top such an epic performance?
Check out our Day 2 coverage of Electric Forest 2023 to find out if they did!