Electric Forest is around the corner, and The Jamwich is thrilled to be returning to Rothbury for another year!  Change is always the name of the game at Electric Forest, and we’re always excited to see what the legendary grounds in Rothbury have in store.  Electric Forest has become steeped in history at this point, dating all the way back to the legendary Rothbury festivals of 2008 and 2009.  The festival is known for it’s electronic-heavy lineup, the joyful community, and of course for the ever-changing experiences that are laid out for attendees.  2023 saw some amazing new updates to the festival and 2024 promises to be another mind-blowing experience.

What Electric Forest isn’t, however, is a traditional “jam band” festival.  The lineup is extremely EDM focused, with artists of all styles taking the stage throughout the weekend.  So how do jam band fans fair at this event?  As a 44 year old festival veteran, I’ve come to terms with the fact that the average age of Electric Forest attendees is closer to my kids age than it is to mine.  Rather than try to change Electric Forest into something it’s not, I’ve learned to love the festival for what it is; an opportunity to completely disconnect from reality and immerse myself into an otherworldly environment for 4 days.  So let’s take a look at what jam band fans can look forward to in 2024!

Obviously the top concern for many attendees is the musical lineup.  What can jam band fans look forward to this year?

I’m excited to say that 2024 definitely has a solid number of jam band and jam-adjacent acts to look forward to.  As usual, The String Cheese Incident is at the top of that list.  SCI will be playing three sets over two nights.  Last year that meant a 2-hour all-killer, no-filler set on Friday and a 2-set Saturday Night Shebang.  Obviously the one thing that’s certain with Electric Forest is that nothing’s certain, so I don’t know if that will stay the same in 2024, but, no matter where they’re scheduled, I expect SCI to bring their A game to the festival, just like they have almost every year.

There are quite a few other great names directly out of the jam band world at the festival this year.  Umprehy’s McGee returns to Electric Forest for only the second time (not counting their 2009 Rothbury sets).  It’s been a decade since Umphrey’s has been at Electric Forest, and the band continues to impress at every show they play.  Umphrey’s is one of the most interesting and shred-tastic jam bands touring today, and their Sunday set will be one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend for many.  The Disco Biscuits are Forest regulars and will also be back for 2024.  With SCI, UM, and The Disco Biscuits all on the same bill, the opportunity for some cross collaborations are there for the taking. 

Lettuce also returns in 2024, after laying down an amazing late-night set in 2022.  They are another can’t miss band, and there’s no doubt that they’ll get the crowd going no matter when they play. Dumpstaphunk will be another excellent funky band with a very different style than what Lettuce is bringing to the table. Dirtwire is an extremely interesting addition to the lineup, and one of the lower-card acts I’m most excited about checking out.  They are extremely hard to describe, sometimes being categorized as “swamptronica” or “electro-twang.”  A mix of electronic elements with banjos, jaw harps, ukuleles, and other instruments not usually associated with electronic music make Dirtwire a fascinating addition to Electric Forest. 

If you’re looking to step out of the jam band world, you’re still going to find a great mix of music to check out.  Pretty Lights, John Summit, Gigantic Nghtmre, Excision, and Seven Lions could all headline electronic festivals wherever they go.  90’s kids can enjoy pop sensation Nelly Furtado and rapper Ludacris.  And that’s only a small portion of the massive lineup.  With at least 6 major stages and another handful of smaller stages, there are numerous options for fans at any given time and your musical experience is truly only limited by your imagination.

Electric Forest 2024 also includes a variety of new events for fans.  You can buy a Forest Food Add-On, including everything from a Drag Brunch to a cheese & wine tasting to a full 4-course meal experience. The festival truly put together food experiences for everyone no matter your taste.  If you want to see behind the magic you can participate in a preview tour of the Forest on Wednesday or a mid-day tour of the Dream Emporium on Friday or Saturday. 

On top of that, the Brainery, Electric Forest’s local learning lab, always provides classes and workshops for everyone.  Last year included painting classes, intention setting, “Polyamory 101,” sound healing, guided meditation, and dozens of other options.  Brainery options are typically in the morning or early afternoon, giving early risers something fun to experience while waiting for the music to get started.

Finally, don’t forget to visit the water park!  For a small fee, attendees can visit the Gold Rush water park on the Double JJ grounds.  Get a shower, take a dip, go down water slides, and float down the lazy river with the Forest family.  This is a great way to beat the heat and relax when you need a break from the outdoors.

While Electric Forest has a variety of highlights, the way they curate the festival grounds is truly what sets this event apart.  Sherwood Forest sits in the middle of the grounds, providing a place to get some shade, relax, catch some music (there are anywhere between 3-6 stages in the forest).  Previous years have included a Chapel (featuring some of the craziest performance art you can find in the Forest), a variety of installations, hammocks for relaxing, and who knows what else will be there this year!

Along with the Forest itself, the festival includes so many things to do and explore that it would take weeks to see it all.  The newest addition in 2023 was the Dream Emporium.  This multi-space immersive experience was unlike anything that I had seen in years of attending festivals.  While it’s confirmed that the Dream Emporium would be returning in 2024 there’s no way of knowing what it will look like or what will be included.  The festival also includes a variety of secret areas, scavenger hunts, puzzles, and activities.  An Art Bar gives fans a way to be creative all throughout the day and night with crafts and projects.  Various performance artists will show up unannounced at random times.  Every person who attends Electric Forest gets a completely unique experience, one that no one else has, and one that they will never be able to replicate.

It’s hard to continue to come up with new superlatives to describe the Electric Forest experience.  It’s truly indescribable.  One of my favorite things to do is bring a friend to Forest for the first time and just watch their reaction.  It’s magic every time I step onto those festival grounds.  Over the years the festival has evolved, and I’m sure it will continue to do so moving forward.