Saturday in Rothbury, Michigan at Electric Forest featured the biggest crowds of the weekend with two-day pass-holders hitting the grounds ready to make up for missed time.
At 4:00 p.m., Southern livetronica outfit Zoogma took the stage by storm with a variety of extremely unique sounds and electronica tracks that seemed heavily influenced by a wide range of genres. Whether it was ripping, metal-like guitar or synth-laden, heavy bass, the band got the afternoon crowd going nuts and definitely gained many new fans.
The band utilized samples infrequently yet effectively, adding flourishes to the backbone of the song rather than using them as a crutch like so many electronic artists tend to do.
The emphatic peaks were only augmented by the band’s genuine and infectious energy as they implored the crowd to join in and dance like it were 4:00 a.m. instead. Zoogma’s style is meticulous with long set-ups and versatile song construction reflective of a much more experienced band.
Guitarist Brock Bowling certainly stood out with playing that ranged from shredding heavy metal to funky soul to trancey dance music.
By the closing song, the crowd had probably doubled in size and tripled in energy, as people from the very front to far behind the soundboard were getting down in the hot sun. Ending with a quasi-cover of Three 6 Mafia’s “Stay Fly,” the group referenced their Southern roots as they sampled the hip-hop track with an organic and raging song layered overtop. They truly made the song their own.
After The Infamous Stringdusters brought up Bill Nershi to join in the bluegrass jams at 3:15 p.m., singer-songwriter Santigold was next up at Ranch Arena. Playing to an impressive crowd and backed by a three-piece band dressed in white, blue and gold Egyptian-style costumes as well as two stoic back-up dancers, she commanded the stage with her powerful voice.
String Cheese Incident continued their sound playing with a number of classic songs and an intense light show that further accented the music. From the opening “Rosie” to the “Ring Of Fire” encore, the show was steady with no extreme highs or lows.
One highlight of the night came in the second set with a Talking Heads cover in “This Must Be The Place” where both old and new fans were able to sing along and appreciate the band together.
In the forest, Nobody Beats The Drum held a DJ set with all three members in front of computers as the sound resonated off napping hammock dwellers and massive pines.
The group kept things groovy and light for most of the set with some fast-paced beats and fiery samples. It was a nice way to keep energy up in between SCI sets and really fun to watch the three members stand in a line and bob their heads at different intervals as they each put their own stamp on the beat.
With their massive LED screens already set up, STS9 didn’t waste any time getting on stage at 12:00 a.m., opening with an old favorite in “Evasive Maneuvers.” Launching into the always popular “Inspire Strikes Back,” the crowd was bouncing heavily as the synthesized peak reached a crescendo and Hunter Brown wailed on guitar.
Throughout the set, David Murphy would turn with his bass and face drummer Zach Velmer, playing off each other nicely. “Be Nice” featured a jammed-out intro with keyboardist David Phipps being spotlighted.
“Really Wut?” had an abbreviated middle section but featured Zach’s best drumming of the night as he sprung up and down on his stool aggressively, pounding the skins.
In a move that harkened back to their Michael Jackson tribute at Rothbury 2009, STS9 busted out “Kaya” with some screeching bass in the final build-up. All night, Murph was on-point with his bass playing and rarely (if ever) wasn’t holding the instrument. He was absolutely the MVP of the night with some blaring new tones and growly, tribal-like playing. The sound on Sherwood Court was impeccable and the bass was fuller and deeper than I’ve heard in a long time.
Maybe most impressively, STS9 played two-and-a-half hours each night with no set break and only very brief moments off stage for the encore.
After the third song of the encore, a smooth and underrated “F. Word,” Murph got on the mic for the last time in the evening, expressing his gratitude and saying he wanted to leave us with something beautiful. Not surprisingly, the familiar ethereal notes of “Circus” rang out and the crowd was on Cloud 9 as the song reached multiple danceable peaks. The drawn-out ending portion gently helped people slow themselves down and snap back to reality.
After STS9 had finished up, most fans were itching for more and trekked over to the Tripolee Stage to catch the hip-hop, dubstep and electronic stylings of Major Lazer. Though slightly corny at times with goofy antics, the music was just what people were looking for – heavy bass that you can groove to.
The glow sticks were flying mightily throughout their set as the night came to a close and people made their way to the exits.
Day 4 of Electric Forest will feature the final String Cheese Incident performance, Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Papadosio and more.
Be sure to check out the CrowdsEye booth at Electric Forest and submit your pictures via their website to win prizes like tickets to next year's event. If you're not in the forest, check out everything that's going on in real time.
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