Substream photographer Benjamin Howell recently had his first experience at Michigan’s four-day EDM superfest, Electric Forest. He needed a few days to recover from the experience, as anyone would, but he’s now ready to share his adventures with the world. What follows is Ben’s account of his first day, as well as photos from every set he was able to see:
I arrived with a group of friends shortly after midnight on Thursday in hopes of avoiding the midday rush. After a couple hours of waiting in line in our vehicles and a quick-glance security search, we reached our camping destination. In the time that it took us to meet our neighbors and pitch a tent, there was already a party going on somewhere nearby. We decided to grab some drinks and went to investigate. We were blown away when we stumbled upon a giant, old bus converted into a stage and hundreds of people already going all out.
As Thursday dawned we were all anxious to get into the Forest. After weaving our way through an entertaining admission line, we walked through the gates for the first time and were in awe. The first thing in view was the massive tribal covered Tripolee stage complemented by the lit-up Ferris wheel to our right. It was like we walked into a different world and we weren’t even into the Forest itself yet. Everyone had their own unique look prepared and many were already in costume. The overwhelming joy on everyone’s faces was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.
My day was filled with talented artists. Starting with Yotto on the Tripolee stage, I continued past the Ranch area and finally traversed the Forest itself before arriving at the Jubilee and Sherwood Court stages on the other side. The first few steps inside the Electric Forest were breathtaking. There were giant globes, oblong structures, banners, towers and other things to climb on, hammocks to lie in, buildings to explore, enormous statues and totems to admire, characters to meet, and so much more. It was overwhelmingly perfect.
As the day continued I had the opportunity to capture a ton of EDM superstars such as Prof, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Daily Bread, The Polish Ambassador, Party Favor, Duke Dumont, 12th Planet, Savoy, Dusky and Major Lazer. When night fell and Major Lazer took the stage at the Ranch Area I had my first opportunity to watch the whole Forest swarm. People came from seemingly everywhere to see the infamous trio—and with good reason. Their performance was incredible. With professional dancers, gifts for the crowd, and even a huge transparent bubble to go crowd surfing with, Major Lazer proved why they were one of the most anticipated acts at Electric Forest this year.
When night fell on the Forest, everything changed dramatically. Neon LED lights illuminated every tree, all of the hanging decorations lit up in ominous patterns, fog machines started to shoot out of most structures, lasers from the main stages fragmented throughout the branches, and people were equipped from top to bottom with glowing accessories. Everyone I ran into was generous, loving, and overall very friendly. The Electric Forest at night is every bit as sublime as anything else I have experienced in my life—from world wonders, to oceans, to witnessing two people fall in love—it’s something that must be experienced to be understood.
Below are shots from several different artists that performed at Electric Forest on Thursday. Check back over the weekend for more photos and stories from my time at Electric Forest 2016.
DJ Jazzy Jeff
The Polish Ambassador
To view the full gallery of artists you can visit Benjamin Howell’s photography site.