Despite the endless amount of music festivals popping up, certain festivals have cemented themselves with unique identities. Coachella boasts endless cameos and celebrity sightings, Bonnaroo prides itself in being the modern day Woodstock, and others fit certain criteria their dedicated fans now expect to be self-evident.
Electric Forest, a music festival held in Rothbury, Michigan, has gained incredible momentum over the past few years in large part due to its unique setting. Held at the Double JJ Resort, the festival takes place within the confines of a gorgeous forest. With a lineup that balances indie and jam bands with EDM-flavored DJs and performers, the festival unites two contrasting demographics in a remarkable tribute to live music culture.
However, not all is serene in the Forest this year. A number of opposing forces have collided and may prevent Electric Forest from returning next year. Before describing why, here’s some background info:
- The Rothbury Music Festival occurs in July of 2008. The lineup focuses primarily on jam bands but includes some electronic acts.
- In 2009, a conflict over the ownership of the land almost prevented the festival from occurring. Luckily a judge granted a temporary lease between promoter AEG and a trustee.
- 2010 saw the festival going on hiatus and never returning.
- 2011 saw the debut of Electric Forest, a joint production thrown by Insomniac Events (also responsible for EDC), AEG, and Madison House
Unfortunately it appears the legality of land ownership has once again become an issue in how the festival will return next year. SFX, a dance music event conglomerate responsible for TomorrowWorld, Life in Color (formerly Dayglow), Disco Donnie Presents (a company responsible for festivals like Sunset Music Fest in Tampa and many one-off concerts across the world), noticed the success of Electric Forest and attempted to claim it this past year.
SFX had attempted to purchase Insomniac and Madison House in the past. After Madison House merged with AEG, SFX decided to set its scope on the physical property which hosts Electric Forest. SFX attempted to purchase Double JJ Ranch and a court case brewed between SFX and AEG, one that ultimately allowed the festival to occur this year.
If the buyout succeeds, SFX will have permanent rights to the land and thus any events that take place on it. Considering that, this could very well be the final year Electric Forest takes place. While SFX would likely create their own unique festival, it will certainly differ from Electric Forest in a number of ways.
Given that this was the first year Electric Forest sold out, interest in the festival is at all-time high. It would be a shame to miss out of potentially the final year of one of the most unique and beloved festivals of the past decade. Promoters have released a final batch of last minute tickets and I highly recommend any one who was on the fence about going to buy a ticket, pack your bags, and scurry over next weekend.
It’s unfortunate consumerism and businesses infringe upon some of the events we love to attend. For now, we should enjoy the legacy Electric Forest will leave, look forward to this year’s festival and have an open mind toward what SFX may be planning for next year. Double JJ Ranch will undoubtedly remain as picturesque as ever.
"Electric Forest Music Festival, Rothbury, Michigan" by Adam Rifkin, used under CC BY 2.0