Electric Forest is without a doubt one of the premier music festivals for Electro, Bass, House, Dubstep, Dance, and other EDM/club genres. It’s a right of passage for fans of these genres, typically in their late teens through mid 20’s. Which makes the festival an interesting experience for a middle aged jam band fan like myself. But have no fear! Despite the emphasis that Electric Forest gives to these genres, there is still a great lineup of jam, rock, and funk at the festival. And, since these genres aren’t the focus of the event, it gives fans the opportunity to check out some lesser-known acts that you may otherwise skip at a more jam-centered event as well as some more electronic acts that you might otherwise skip. So here is a list of some lesser-known artists that I’m looking forward to at this year’s Electric Forest!
Sunsquabi are definitely an up-and-coming act in the Jamtronica scene. They definitely bring an STS9 style vibe to the event, seamlessly mixing their funky dance style with electronic sounds for a great mix. Their live shows are where they bring out their best, and there’s no doubt that these guys are going to have a great crowd at their set. Sunsquabi might be one of the best representations of what’s great about Electric Forest, a melting pot of genres and styles. This is going to be a can’t miss set.
Electric Forest is a uniquely Michigan festival, and the land and location are as central to the event as the music is. The festival always features a handful of local and regional artists, and Michigander is a great representation of the state. The project is the work of singer and multi-instrumentalist Jason Singer, and his pop/indie style consists of solid songwriting without trying to do anything too fancy. He’s earnest and heartfelt in his writing without being pretentious, and he’s developed a dedicated local following. Michigander is a band that might be easy to overlook on this lineup, but if you’re looking for a guy who can be a breakout artist over the next few years Michigander might be a good bet for that.
While Electric Forest has moved far away from the acoustic roots and bluegrass that permeated the Rothbury festivals, they tend to have a couple bands every year that represent this genre. The Kitchen Dwellers are a great choice. These Montana natives know how to play to a crowd and mix things up, taking traditional bluegrass sounds and turning them into a unique experience for fans. They’re excited to be touring again after spending COVID writing and recording. Their 2020 3-song Pink Floyd covers collection <i>Reheated, Vol 2</i> has been on regular rotation for me, and I hope to catch some of that at their Forest set.
Brandon “Taz” Niederauer
If you aren’t aware of this guitar virtuoso at this point you’ve had your head in the sand. With everything he’s done so far it’s hard to believe he’s still only 19 years old. He’s got a great bluesy rock style that allows him to shred as he sees fit. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he might be the best pure guitarist at the festival, and a guy that I hope we see sit in with a couple of other artists throughout the weekend. If you want to watch a prodigy at work check this guy out.
The Nth Power
Funk always has a place at the Forest, and this year The Nth Power will be helping to hold that genre up at the Forest. This is a band that fits not only into the musical landscape of Electric Forest, but also the culture that the festival sets out to create. The band focuses on the transcendental and spiritual in their music, looking to create an immersive and uplifting experience for the audience. This is very much what Electric Forest is all about, and they are a band that will lift up the entire festival.
If there’s one artist that fans will look back on and say “I should’ve seen this set” this one might be it. Fantastic Negrito is a phenomenal blues and soul singer with an infectious energy. He’s already a winner of multiple Grammys and his recent work has pushed his work more and more into the mainstream. He’s an artist that can absolutely command the attention of an audience and have them hanging on every word and every note. This is a set that I don’t recommend sleeping on.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
You might look at the name and immediately write this band off but that would be a huge mistake. They’re soulful, folky, and super solid in their songwriting and playing. This is another band that epitomizes the love and acceptance that Electric Forest is known for. I guarantee that their late-night set will be an unforgettable experience for fans, likely filled with both musical and visual surprises for all and an environment of unbridled love and positivity.
Other Bands To Check Out
This is obviously a short list, not at all encompassing of all the great music. I didn’t feel it necessary to highlight artists that are more well-known to the jam community. If you’re going to Electric Forest and don’t already know about The String Cheese Incident, The Disco Biscuits, Lettuce, Big Gigantic, and Lotus then you’re probably not reading this anyways! Cory Wong will likely be an excellent set, there are two Everyone Orchestra experiences that I’m sure will be worth checking out, and Dixon’s Violin is in his usual spot both opening and closing the festival. Chirp is supposed to be a solid local band, Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers are always a party, and I’m super interested to see what Joel Cummins from Umphrey’s Mcgee brings to his solo set. There’s so much good to check out at Electric Forest that you should never have a dull moment!