To help decide which sets I will be catching at Electric Forest (2nd weekend) this year, I listened to all 158 artists on the lineup and compiled my impressions of their sound, style, and overall vibe. Sometimes I had to rely on first impressions, other times I got much deeper into the catalog and even sourced some fun facts about the artists themselves.

I do this every festival season to help me make decisions on lineup conflicts or to find new acts to see that I hadn’t heard of before but this is the first time I am posting my impressions. I don’t always know the proper terms, especially in electronic, but I did my best to convey the experience I had listening to each artist.

All the songs referenced here have been compiled in this playlist. Enjoy!

 

!!!

Feels like Fall Out Boy without the angst. Dancing is the Best Revenge got my feet tapping for sure. Apparently it’s pronounced “check check check.”

 

AbJo

Instrumental electronic, For What It’s Worth definitely played up the summer vibes. Could find literally no bio information about him but looks like some of the track titles are in Portuguese (Alma Do Sol) and I definitely get a Brazilian sensibility in his music.

 

Air Credits

Rap duo from Chicago, only 4 tracks on Spotify all w/ <2k listens. This Could Be Bad had decent flow.

 

Anna Lunoe

Love me some badass lady DJs. She’s true dance music, not too heavy into bass and BPM is up there but not full rageface. I Met You her most well known track, Stomper and Radioactive brought some fun energy as well.

 

Aqueous

For whatever reason, when I saw this name I thought it would be another basshead group. It very much is not…it’s almost like indie alternative ballad rock. Don’t Do It was my first introduction: 9+ minute song with a long guitar solo that almost brought in some metal influences.

 

ATTLAS

Mellow summer vibey. I Need You More plays with vocals but more as a looping instrument than lyrics. Shadow Play more traditional song with lyrics, prob my fav actually.

 

Bassnectar

One of my Forest companions made a big push for this dude and I’m glad he did, such good dance music that doesn’t just rely on big drops but takes you on a journey. Was Will Be was my first intro and it does a good job drawing you in w/ high melodies and female vocals but always keeps an edge that makes it really engaging to listen to. Speakerbox brought in some more hip hop style vocals but still kept things from getting too aggro by keeping the bass in check. Remix of Ellie Goulding’s Lights was super cool too, for a festival set that is going to be all dance party it’s always good to get some songs in there that are more universally familiar to keep the crowd energy up.   

 

Beau Young Prince

Rapper out of DC, got a groovy flow to him. I can’t really place who he reminds me of…I got twinges of A$AP on Two For One (more the production than the vocals) and Fetty Wap on Power Trip. Could be fun to check out for a change of pace, not a lot of rap on the lineup. She The Type popped up a few days later after doing my initial dive and prob my favorite track.

 

Big Something

Would want to listen to some more to make sure this is an accurate assessment but Club Step was grungy guitar riff central. Almost makes me feel like they were able to capture the sound of lasers to go along w/ the drums and guitar. I dig. Song for Us still captured that laser sound that was so memorable in Club Step but this was more of a jam band feel. Extended electric guitar solos should play real well in the Forest. I would flag this as an early frontrunner for surprise hit of a set.

 

Bishop Briggs

River has definitely popped up on a bunch of playlists for me…it’s one of those songs where she starts soulful and builds up this yearning for strong vocals that don’t come in until about a minute in. Never Tear Us Apart is on the Fifty Shades Freed album (it was the Spotify album art, don’t judge me) and it’s actually delivers exactly the vibe the movie is going for.

 

Blackgummy

Heavy bass, The Machine had a bit of a gurgly sound to it. Plucking Technology hit me with a more erratic deadmau5. SuperHuman by far my favorite track and probably least like the others.

 

Bonobo (Live)

He’s deservedly really popular but he’s one of those guys that just kinda missed me…I never found myself drawn in enough to commit. It’s super chill, a lot like Tycho. Migration is very mellow, Kerala brings it up a bit but still very chill.

 

Boogie T

Super bass’y, too rich for my blood. Bad Motha was honestly pretty hard to listen to. Looks like he’ll be B2B Squnto on Friday and playing w/ live band on Sunday (will be interesting to see how this translates to live band).

 

Boombox Cartel

Here’s what I wrote when I vetted these dudes for EDC last year:

A lot like Slushii, very synth heavy on Jefe not quite my jam. Dancing with Fire, on the other hand, is pretty dope (I’m always a sucker for good female vocals on an electronic track). Overall probably a pass for me but depending on conflicts I wouldn’t mind checking them out.

 

Bubble Gutter

Nothing on Spotify and the top YouTube result was bizarre. Not sure I’m super inclined to try and chase this down…

 

BUKU

Front to Back is right along that line for me of dubstep I enjoy and dubstep that turns me off. I’ve always loved anything Spinnin Records puts out though, so that’s gotta count for something. Probably not going to be enough here for me to go out of my way to catch this set but if I found myself wandering through I wouldn’t be upset.

 

Calyx & Teebee

Where We Go is house meets reggaeton (I think maybe consider this moombahton?) and together take a trip down techstep lane.

 

Cassian

Upbeat electronic, instrumental only on Know U Well, vibey lyrics on Running. One More remix brings in more dance influences.

 

Chalk Dinosaur

I See The Sun brings out a little Beach Boys with a little George Thorogood guitar attitude. This would be a fun show to catch in the middle of the day but I don’t see myself investing any significant time here.

 

CharlesTheFirst

Mellow electronic instrumental, Mercy Falls would be good for settling into workflow focus but not sure this is what I personally look for in a festival environment.

 

Cherub

Listening to XOXO, I got a very distinct Prince vibe from top to bottom…the vocals, rhythms, use of synth sounds. This strikes me as a good vibes dancing kinda crowd.

 

Chris Lake

Reminds me a bit of Jamie Jones but with more of a 90s house DJ vibe. Piano Hand feels like something I would hear in an arcade/pizza shop in the mid 90s.

 

Chromeo

These guys are gonna be cool, got a synth sound that is really hard to get right but they nailed it. Dancing is always gonna start with hips here, almost got a 70s funk to it on tracks like Tenderoni. They do a good job using volume to navigate rhythm changes (almost like an intake of break before picking up your pace in a run). I had flagged Bonafide Lovin’ from my monthly playlist in March 2013, which I think is a pretty fair assessment of their overall vibe. If LMFAO wouldn’t apologize for party rockin’, Chromeo is serving up that bonafide lovin’.

 

Claptone

Feelin’ a little ODESZA on No Eyes (20M plays on Spotify). Heartbeat also cool, never gets too carried away. Looks like he rocks a mask like the doctors wore on Assassins Creed, which is pretty dope. Puppet Theatre with Peter, Bjorn, and John is a v natural fit

 

CloZee

Trippy, got a pretty cool Japanese vibe to it. Koto sounds like it would belong on Kill Bill soundtrack (during a non-stabbing scene). Lyricless so solid work/chill vibes. Secret Place was also cool, a little more mellow than Koto. Even though this is primarily electronic, she is classically trained in guitar so there’s definitely a sophistication that I really appreciate and she seems to incorporate actual instruments into her music as often as possible. Inner Peace definitely goes a lot harder on the basslines.

 

The Comet is Coming

Really cool upbeat instrumental w/ heavy emphasis on jazz horn on Final Eclipse (love that track name too). Ascension also cool track, very jazzy.

 

Corrupt

My Type throws me back to 90s techno dance. Not a ton of Spotify play and nothing particularly interesting here, fairly generic retro dance music.

 

Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles

Smooth jazz on Seven that was enjoyable.

 

Crankdat

Reminds me of Party Favor actually, you’ll have tracks that try and go total rageface (Stoopid Rich, Dollars) and others that are standard pop dance music (w/ T Pain no less).

 

Cut Copy

Where I’m Going felt like a song you would hear opening for Cheaptrick. I had flagged Need You Now on my monthly playlist back in April 2013 as a cool track (recognized the dope album cover). Was a little surprised to see them up there as a subheadliner but I gotta trust that Forest knows what they’re doing here.

 

Cut Snake

Noisy was pretty generic electronic, threw in some interesting crescendos but nothing that grabbed me. Pass.

 

Dena Amy

Very soft sound on Your Eyes, almost timid. Same with Wait For You (Cut Snake did a remix of this track as well). When she does use bass it kinda feels out of place.

 

Desert Dwellers

View from Lanaikea was actually pretty dope. I’m not sure how to describe it, I want to say trippy but it feels a little more outer space. Let’s go w/ “astrotrippy.”

 

Desert Hearts Crew & Friends

All I could find was this playlist from a stage takeover, not anything from this artist in particular. My assumption is that this is going to be one of “off Broadway” acts at a small stage tucked away somewhere. Looks like this might actually be a Marbs project.

 

The Dip

I wish the lead vocals were stronger on Ain’t Necessary. It’s a cool big lounge vibe but the lead vocals aren’t strong enough to carry the song as written.

 

Dixon’s Violin

Name pretty much sums it up, mellow instrumental. I was happy to hear Space Journey used a lot of plucking sounds (not all traditional violin notes)

 

Doc Martin

Nothing that really grabbed me. Emerald City was top played track on Spotify and it was pretty vanilla. Will be B2B Lee Reynolds.

 

DROELOE

Kitsungi almost has a Flume’y vibe, playful rhythms with rolling drop.

 

Dub Trio

En Passant has that rock n roll feel that made me think “man, they don’t make ’em like this anymore.”

 

Edaa Birthing

Nothing on Spotify, nothing on YouTube…are you a ghost??

 

Elderbrook

Talking was pretty slow, kept waiting for it to pick up but it never delivered. Cola has almost 80M Spotify plays and is definitely more traditional dance music. It seems like Elderbrook was the supporting cast on Cola though.

 

Elohim

I knew I recognized this name but couldn’t find any track titles I recognized. Hallucinating came on playlist and this is definitely the one that has surfaced for me before…it’s got almost a childlike feel to it, feels like it belongs in a less-dark version of Alice and Wonderland. Does some cool stuff w/ violin that you don’t hear very often in music like this.

 

Emancipator

Really chill dude, I got turned onto this by a guy I know that works in a digital agency as really good focus music, very elegant. Greenland prob his biggest track, Pancakes came out last year and still the same great vibe.

 

EOTO

Time Saw feels like you’re sloshing around in the belly of a sea creature (in a good way). Almost like a deep gurgly sound, definitely heavy but not full of bass drops. Was very well balanced.

 

Eprom

Got a bad taste with this, the word acid comes to mind (and not the good kind). Prototype was too abrasive for my personal tastes.

 

Everyone Orchestra

10 people in the group, brings that big band sound for sure. Funk Explosion cool track.

 

Flamingosis

Brings soulful R&B vocals over fairly basic electronic rhythms on Ohhh Baby. It was cool but prob not something that’s gonna keep my attention.

 

Fruition

Folksy, reminiscent of a traveling band. The Meaning I can’t really place what it reminds me of but it is very soothing. I do always like a track that can communicate a story without vocals and the jam section to wrap up was like another vocal-less verse.

 

G Jones

Doing some cool stuff here, seeing lots of collabs w/ Bassnectar on Mind Tricks, Underground, and The Mystery Spot. Even the stuff w/ Bassnectar was a little too aggro for me and then his solo stuff kinda doubles down on that. He’s a lot like Eprom, not surprising to see he’ll be B2B Eprom on Friday and solo set on Sat.

 

Get Real

Mind Yo Bizness was monotonous. Snuffaluffagus, while a hilariously awesome track title, also pretty uninteresting and overuses the gorilla vocal effect. These are the only 2 original tracks on Spotify.

 

The Glitch Mob

Animus Vox was the first song I pulled up, very matrix’y and almost futuristic. Feels like it belongs in deep space. The fact that it was a 7+ minute track really let them take you on a journey through their music and deliver a deeper listening experience.

 

The Glitter Sparkle Unicorn Spectacular

Nothing on Spotify or other searches, all I could find was another Redditor trying to hunt down the same info.

 

Golf Clap

Melodic but pretty uninteresting. Make Me Feel I got bored after about a minute and hit skip.

 

Great Good Fine OK

Take it or Leave It has made the playlist rounds, they’ve got the “big burst of sunshine” builds and vocals that spend a lot of time in falsetto. They did collab on one of my favorite Chainsmokers tracks Let You Go. I would be interested in trying to catch this set assuming no major conflicts.

 

GRiZ (live band)

I have listened to GRiZ a bunch and I wish I was more into this but it’s just not exactly my vibe. I love the funky aspects of it but the deep bass and heavy crash is a little too jarring for my tastes. I find myself really digging a track like Funk Party until it gets to the drop and I almost cringe a little, at the same time doesn’t overdo it with the warped buzzsaw effect but keeps that heavy horn/jazz influence at the forefront. Still excited to check them out especially with the live band. Really, as long as there’s not a big crashing drop I’m good. Can’t Hold Me Down was a bit more forgiving and I dig it a lot. My Friends and I was awesome but the drop kinda throws me. Just never really liked the metal-on-metal sound, one of the hardest things for me to get past in slushii as well.

 

Gryffin

This guy has always had really good music w/ A-list tracks like Feel Good and Whole Heart but also being able to mellow it out on Heading Home. I remember being underwhelmed w/ his live performance when I first saw him but he was trying to bring in different elements, even busted out a few tracks on guitar. I remember thinking he hadn’t quite found his identity as a performer yet but as long as he keeps producing his music he’ll get there. Had the same feeling seeing Illenium too actually. One of my Forest companions also uncovered this week that Gryffin is 1 of the 2 guys from The White Panda mashup masters.

 

Hannah Muse

Not even seeing her on Spotify but she’s listed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Gotta assume this is a small, off the map stage, maybe a competition winner?

 

Harrison Brome

Fill Your Brains conjures associations of folk but with a much heavier weight to it, a longing/yearning to the vocals that gives it an emotional weight. I’m not that well educated in music theory but there feels like a like of minor chords that define the sound. Not sure this is the vibe I’ll want at Forest, I typically relate more to melodies and upbeat rhythms. Vocal range is pretty impressive, Body High leans more on falsetto than Fill Your Brains. still not quite enough going on to really keep my interest but I have an appreciation for the artistry.

 

Hayden James

This dude is more than his Something About You collab w/ ODESZA, definitely has a very similar vibe though. NUMB is a cool track, same type of playful, rolling melodies. Full set Thursday and DJ set Friday.

 

Heroburst

I’ve read a lot about how strong the basshead scene is in the Forest, and my first intro to this dude was Party McFly and it certainly delivers. Deep bass not really my thing so prob a pass from me but definitely had a good beat if that’s your thing. Good to see some recognition in ATL for more than just hip hop.

 

Hiss Golden Messenger

New age Bob Dylan, trying to revive American folk. Heart Like a Levee not doing it for me.

 

Insightful

A lot like Emancipator, maybe a little more edge. Black Dress and Moth Mother show you what he’s about. Csyani leans on that edge a lot more.

 

Jauz

I’m looking forward to Jauz, I think it’ll be a fun show. He’s done a lot of remixes with people like Marshmello (Magic prob his best known song for sure) but also with Diplo on Final Song (originally a MØ track). Rock the Party an original track released on Spinnin is pretty dope, I bet the crowd will get live for this.

 

Jeremy Olander

Hitting me with that soft ethereal trance vibe on Crossed. Last Dance more syncopated.

 

Jody Litvack

Sounds like a hype man. From Soundcloud:

Veteran Toronto entertainer Jody Litvack is one of the most sought after names in the live event industry today. As a top Emcee, DJ & multimedia expert, Jody has spent the last 23 years honing his creative talents and immersing himself in the hottest new trends in music, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment.

 

Justin Jay’s Fantastic Voyage

Hit It takes a little while to ramp up, starts with some basic beats and layering on different instrument and vocal sounds. It is interesting how the basslines are pretty deep and extended and then you drop in other levels that are still heavily based on layering rhythm. I would have liked it to continue building but kinda levels out halfway through, a bit hard to keep my attention. Apparently we just get Justin Jay on Friday, the Fantastic Voyage doesn’t arrive until Saturday (2 sets).

 

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Dude can shred on the sax. Funk instrumental that does a good job having a lot going on that doesn’t conflict with itself. Seven Nation Army gets covered constantly but his version might be my fave I’ve heard. Looks like he does a lot of covers (Hang Me Out to Dry cover of Cold War Kids also pretty dope). He’s got a tagline on his 2014 album that just says “soul explosion” which I think is fitting.

 

Kasbo

This seems like someone that would need live vocals to bring the heart of these songs out. Tracks are pretty great (Find is super chill) but not sure how much I could get into this if it’s just a DJ set. The fact that he works w/ ODEZSA and released newest album on Foreign Family Collective and that he has opened for Glass Animals is some pretty legit street cred in my book. The production of Found You reminds me of Said the Sky a little bit, very heady and creamy melodies. Collab w/ Big Gigantic on The Little Things I wish brought a little more consistent energy.

 

Kawehi

Going by the name alone, I was expecting Robot vs. Girl to be similar to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Sultry female vocals, seems like her overall vibe is playing with that line between human and machine-produced music. Definitely very vocally-driven, will be a nice mental break in between more high energy sets.

 

Kidswaste

Free was very mellow, almost remind me of Death Cab for Cutie but I can’t really place why. tbh ily remix of Chet Porter off Study Crab is dope.

 

Knox Fortune

Pretty simple rhythms on Lil Thing that keep this from standing out, the vocals are pretty neat. I would classify as general indie, not a ton that grabs me tbh.

 

KRANE

Sometimes you just need some good old fashioned dance music. Nobody But You had some cool Illenium-mosque builds to it. Would recommend.

 

Kronika

Hitting us with 80s rock and roll power chords and then surprising with Sublime-esque vocals on Tinnitus Forte. Not 100% certain I have the right Kronika though, this seems pretty out there and almost no play on Spotify…

 

Lane 8

Saw this dude in DC earlier this year, he did a really cool thing where he had the bouncers tape the camera on everyone phone so that you allow yourself to just enjoy the experience in the moment rather than trying to capture it (and allow others to do the same without staring at your cell phone). Very chill, along the same lines as Emancipator and Shallou. Fingerprint and No Captain some of his bigger tracks.

 

Lawrence

This is a brother and sister that we saw play the campsite stage at Firefly last year and they blew it away. I first discovered them when Columbus Avenue came on in morning as the sun was starting to creep through the windows and that perfectly summed up the vibe of the song: very chill, pretty standard type of sound for early-day festival. When we saw them they brought so much more energy than I expected and really got the crowd into it. They’ve got a great stage presence and have found a way to bridge that soulful, wholesome sound into a pop dance beat.

 

Lee Reynolds

Moon Matrix had a couple of playful melodies but overall didn’t do a lot for me. Simple syncopated beats and echo tones. Only playing B2B Doc Martin.

 

Locos Por Juana

Pal’ Caribe got me in the mindset of a Latin Sublime.

 

Lophiile

Belongs on the setlist for a summer block party. Nayhoo with Chon was mellow but kept enough energy to keep you hooked. He’s got a bunch of remixes, including several from Zedd (Stay, I Want You to Know). Seems like he’s trying to make a name for himself.

 

LOUDPVCK

When I saw Click Clack collab w/ NGHTMRE, I couldn’t have picked a closer comparison for his sound. I listed to Tony as well to make sure it wasn’t NGHTMRE dominating and it was the same hard hitting electronic that I can appreciate from a musical standpoint but have never personally been able to really get into. They did do a pretty dope cover of Chainsmokers’ Paris.

 

Louis the Child

When you evaluate a festival lineup, what really sets one apart IMO is being able to bring in subheadliners that can really deliver. Louis the Child would be a highlight show on my calendar if they came through DC this summer but it’s easy to overlook them when seeing the strength of this schedule. They dropped a couple new tracks this year already (Better Not, Shake Something) that are solid and Fire will always be 🔥. Would love for someone to tell me if it’s pronounced Looey or Lewis (yes, I am too lazy to Google it myself).

 

LUTHI

Every Body is by far the most listened to Spotify track and I definitely see why. They’ve got that big sound that comes from having a band w/ 9 people. It’s also cool to see the influences of a huge music city like Nashville come through in a non-country band. Their website described their style as a “Boogie Circus”, which weirdly fits. It’s 1 part Misterwives, 1 part Earth Wind and Fire, 1 part something completely new. Had never heard of these guys before Forest, definitely going to try and check them out though. Milk and Honey another fun track off their Stranger album that just dropped May 11, will be cool to see how they do at this point in their tour of the new album. Back to You came up on a later playlist and that really got me too.

 

LUZCID

Did some cool bass’y things with Make It that were measured in a way I like. For whatever reason I associate artists who use all caps in their name to be big booming sound (your name is yelling at me already) it at least Make It i think did a really good job of keeping the bass in check.

 

Madame Gandhi

The Future is Female blurs that line between vocals and spoken word. She’s got a strong voice, I think I’d have to get familiar with her catalog before I’d be willing to commit to trying to catch this set.

 

Magic City Hippies

They sound exactly like you think they would with a name like Magic City Hippies. Four of a Kind is a cool track, probably would be chill during the day but unlikely that this will be more than passing through for me.

 

The Main Squeeze

This brings some gospel influences into jam band sensibilities. Colorful Midst was a cool track.

 

Malaa

Saw this dude at Moonrise last year, I remember his set being a lot more mellow but tracks like Notorious are super bass’y (and w/ a little hip hop influence here too that I love). Wasn’t anything super notable at Moonrise but wasn’t a bad time.

 

Manic Focus

Hip hop and electronic go together like lamb and tuna fish (maybe you prefer spaghetti and meatball?). There’s just something so cool about being able to create beats for hip hip using more than just snare and bass drum and the fact that this dude is coming out of Chicago definitely shows in his style. Sowing My Zone was trippy cool, the production definitely takes center stage but the rhymes were critical to bringing it together. He’s got another track Life Goes On with GRiZ and just released an album of remixes that feature a ton of Forest artists like SunSquabi, Emancipator, SoDown, and GoodSex. Money Ain’t a ThanG another awesome track.

 

Manila Killa

Everyday, Everyday was not what I expected out of a guy with a name like Manila Killa. I love Nevve and he did a good job capturing her vocal quality. Refrain struck me with hints of Said the Sky and Win and Woo. Youth was pretty cool sound as well. I’m gonna try and catch some of this set.

 

MANSION

Only track on Spotify is a remix of Dena Amy’s Your Eyes, which has got a decent upbeat tempo to it and some cool basslines. They were a late addition so I’m thinking this is probably a smaller set.

 

Marbs

Tusks & Tales pulled me in but not when I was actively listening (I was working on booking my Forest flights actually), there’s an underlying calmness to this that gets you to let your guard down and then hits you in the soul with a fresh beat. He is super heavily influenced by Burning Man and it shows, this bio describes him “papa bear for the Desert hearts crew and a resident sexecutive DJ for Lovelife.” It goes on to say “his sound can be described as deep, dark, sexy, and tech.” Almost nothing available on Spotify but I gotta say, I’m intrigued…

 

Marian Hill

Sultry vocals, pretty unique rhythms on Wild makes for an interesting listen.

 

Marshmello

Pretty sure he was the highest paid DJ of 2017 (worldwide), which is testament to how his reputation and following has grown over the past several years. I like the way he uses “white space” in his sound to give you a chance to appreciate the flow of the music. The way that he uses vocals reminds me of Zedd (not the sound itself exactly, just the use of vocals to complement the electronic production side of things). Alone was the first song that really got me into him, Keep it Mello and Summer some of his other more popular tracks. I finally saw him at EDC last year and he put on a good show…I feel like I didn’t get the full experience cuz the group I was with wanted to stay pretty far back and out of range for the crowd energy to really take effect.

 

Marvel Years

Brought some electricity with The East, got a new modern rock meets dance production to it.

 

MAX

This is the 00s pop sound back again, almost gives me Maroon 5 vibes on Hell’s Kitchen Angel. Not sure how MAX will translate to festival, seems like a sound you wanna hear in a smokey lounge.

 

Medasin

Dude started making beats at 12 years old and was making a name for himself as a producer by 17. Pretty chill vibes, Daydream had some dope vocals and piano.

 

MELVV

With a track title like Vibe, you kinda know what you’re getting. This reminds me of Tycho with more of a hitch in its giddyup. All instrumental in Vibe was cool the getting a more traditional track with lyrics on Not Me. Lifeline keeps that playfulness going. This could be a cool set depending on conflicts.

 

Mersiv

Morflo was a bit erratic, tried some interesting things with laser sound effects. Hip hop inspired vocal patterns on Taijutsu but falls short of actual rhymes. Only 3 tracks, all w/ <1000 plays.

 

Michigan Rattlers

Folksy, last week got a cool balance between electric and rhythm guitar. Vocals are one part Nathaniel Rateliff one part Hayes Carll. Illinois Sky they’re biggest track.

 

Mija

Bad For U gave me a little twinges of Flume with the playfulness of the melodies (very little bass though). Can’t quite place the vocals but had a really vibey feel to it.

 

Mike Love

Has that Dirty Heads, Xavier Rudd sort of feel to it. Lots of big brass sounds on Be Thankful, flow on the vocals is pretty dope too. This seems like a perfect set to chill and smoke a joint to.

 

Mikey Lion

Island drumline taking a reserved approach on Drum Formulas, vocals pretty lame, going for that trippy “voice in your head” feeling on Playa Dreams as well. Pass for me.

 

MK

Feel good house, total dance music of the purest kind. Bring Me to Life literally had me dancing in my chair while reconciling expense reports (not a thoroughly dance-worthy activity…). Looks like this dude has been around since the early 90s and it carries through in a way that still works today. It keeps just enough of that garage sound to keep it from feeling too pop but still keeps great dance vibes going throughout. I’d love to cruise through this set if scheduling permits. Piece of Me and 17 other popular tracks.

 

Motez

Down Like This was monotonous and repetitive. It does some funky stuff around 2 minutes but then falls right back into boring repetition. Pass for me.

 

Mr. Carmack

Rogue hit me hard with flashbacks to the first notes of the Porter/Madeon Shelter tour intro. I initially thought the parallels stopped there but it actually has a lot of the melodies (esp. secondary background melodies). Pay (For What) showed a little more edge, so did Uppers. He’s a San Francisco kid that moved to Oahu to produce music his way. I expect that this will be a small set but the people there will be legit fans.

 

Mt. Joy

Any track like Cardinal that cold opens with a whistle solo is one that will always catch my ear. They strike me as a Jack Johnson/Lumineers hybrid with a little splash of Nahko and Medicine for the People.

 

Muzzy Bearr

Collab w/ legit names, maybe we’ll see a live Bougie collab w/ GRiZ? Radio Glider is cool, definitely still in that same GRiZ vibe.

 

Natalie Cressman

Jazzy, Turn the Sea is actually a perfectly named track, made me feel like I was having dinner in a nice restaurant on a cruise ship gently rolling over the waves.

 

Netsky (DJ Set)

Digging this guy’s vibe, Pirate Bay was really easy listening. Does a good job w/ balancing rhythms (high BPM backing tracks and uses melody to take listener on the journey he wants. Seems like a guy that would DJ a low key party where people are just there to chill. Go 2 is neat, brings that r&b vibe through the beat and an almost nostalgic jump from low vocals to high vocals. I’m calling Netsky a sleeper pick.

 

Noname

Smooth r&b, vocals heavily featured as primary vessel. Shadow Man and Reality Check good examples. She built a strong reputation in slam poetry in Chicago as she was developing her music.

 

The Nth Power

Heard these guys right after The Main Squeeze and almost had an identical reaction. Gospel meets jam band, strong vocals around guitar with keyboard in support. Truth was all right, probably not in the cards for me this year though.

 

Party Favor

Saw this dude at EDC and it was a ton of fun, good trap/dubstep dancing vibes. Caskets prob most popular track. I got into Parking Lot Pimpin’ as I was listening to it but it will all depend on the crowd. G-String very beat heavy, not bass heavy necessarily but loud, repetitive beats to drive the rhythm.

 

Party Pupils

Patient is good summer vibe, gives me a stoner Justin Timberlake feel.

 

Pat Lok

Electronic musician on same label as La Roux, Two Door Cinema Club and MS MR. In the Night – U Don’t Know has a bit of an 80s vibe to the vocals that brings a cool energy. Its upbeat, danceable house for sure but not necessarily gonna be a ragefest, has a lot of soul influence.

 

Pendulum People

If Empire of the Sun had an emo younger sister, it would be Pendulum People. Not a whole lot for me to get into on Tic Toc or Drones, I didn’t really get it. Late addition along w/ MANSION, not sure if they won a slot as part of an audition?

 

Penguin Prison

I’ve been hovering around Penguin Prison for a long time, actually hoping I’ll be able to catch some of this set. I get some Saint Motel, a little bit of St. Lucia. Turn It Up sounds like it belongs in the redemption scene of a 90s “nerd meets girl, nerd believes in himself, nerd gets girl” movie. Don’t Fuck With My Money is the song that got me turned onto them.

 

Phantoms

Reminds me a bit of Digitalism, there’s a lot of complexity going on with these rhythms. Cocaine is a cool reimagining of Eric Clapton, at times it gives me feelings of an alternate dystopian reality but there’s a ton of subtlety that keeps it surprisingly upbeat. Seems like the kind of guys that would listen to a lot of vinyl, which is interesting juxtaposition against electronic production. They do a really good job finding vocals that mesh with their sound (Just a Feeling with VERITE is super good). I can see this being a really fun set depending on where it falls in the day.

 

PHO

Jazzy, jam band kinda sound. #2 brought me back to a smokey lounge, the kind you go to to listen to more than dance to.

 

Poolside

Exactly what you think they should sound like with a name like that. Harvest Moon pretty chill, Feel Alright lands that hazy summer vibe.

 

Porkchop

I would describe my first impression as dungeon trance. Oozed is such a perfectly named track. I think this would be tough for me to get into at a festival, I’m a little too ADD for this but its chill listening music.

 

ProbCause

Smooth flow hip hop, I get hints of Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper (love the brass on I Feel U). I could see this being a cool set.

 

Psyntimental

Not sure what the Untz Challenge is…but apparently this is what Psyntimental won to get on the Second Weekend lineup. A-Game seems like it’s pushing that experimental electronic.

 

The Pursuit of Ahhwesomeness

Nothing on Spotify, Google searches pretty light until I found his 2017 Electric Forest audition and it is…bizarre.

 

QUIX

This isn’t quite as aggro “thrasher EDM”, it definitely goes hard but gives a little bit of a chance to catch your breath before building to another HUGE drop like on Lucy’s Place. This isn’t quite my personal tastes but I would love to get into this crowd for just 1 of those bass drops.

 

Rezz

Saw her for the first time at EDC and she put on a great show. She gets everyone vibing together with lots of bass without relying on a ton of big drops. Edge is great, Relax is great, DRUGS! is great…Rezz is awesome, you should not miss this set.

 

Rinzen

Exoplanet uses elongated notes/chords that make it feel like your sliding through the track. Seems to have Japanese influences on the production. Paradox much heavier but still cool. All instrumental.

 

Rogue! Neo-Vintage Cabaret

Almost nothing I could find on Google, gotta expect this is like a traveling act inside the festival.

 

Rufus Du Sol

When I saw these guys listed on the topline, I knew Forest was gonna hit every chord for me. This is that perfect festival dance vibe…trippy but very composed.  It’s the kind of music that plays just as well outside in the open air as it does inside a venue. Like an Animal one of my personal favorites, Interbloom is another big one…basically the entire Bloom album. This is a can’t miss, got a full set on Thursday and a DJ set on Friday.

 

The Russ Liquid Test

Big Band sound, lot of big brass on Honesty.

 

Rybo

Call U Rite Back is like a slow burn, little too slow for my tastes. Just for the High gets a little trippier but still not my personal cup of tea. Ironically my fav track is BOBBY, a collab with Mikey Lion (who I am also prob gonna skip).

 

Sam Gellaitry

Acres similar vein to Shallou and Emancipator, smooth flowing notes that feel like they are trying to map nature to music. He does some cool stuff with vocal sounds without actual lyrics.

 

San Holo

Ever since the first time I heard Light, I knew this guy was gonna be something really cool. It’s the same type of energy that you get from Alan Walker (though hopefully a better live performer…AW probably my biggest disappointment of 2017 despite seeing him at 2 different festivals). We Rise is another pretty cool track. Summertime is a killer track w/ Yellow Claw.

 

Sasha Marie

Nothing on Spotify, Soundcloud is just extended mixes. Soulection & Chill was certainly different, it goes from 70s vibing to R&B to smooth piano. Wasn’t a ton that really grabbed me though, I’m gonna pass.

 

Savoir Adore

The good type of indie pop, strong vocals and harmonies and guitar without going too overboard with the “live your best life” cliche. Not sure it’s a perfect comparison but I got notes of The xx on Sparrow. Depending on lineup conflicts I’ll prob try and catch at least some of this set. Apparently they do a lot with guest collab so will be interesting to see if they bring anyone on tour with them. Doing a full set and a DJ set on Thursday.

 

Sepiatonic

If you took Chromeo and replaced their synth with a horn section, you’d end up with Sepiatonic. Technicolour hit me with hints of 1920s jazz club.

 

Shallou

Found him when I was prepping to see Lane 8 earlier this year, he popped up as a related artist and with good reason. If you’re into Lane 8, Emancipator you’ll dig Shallou. Come Home is cool.

 

Sinkane

I listen to a shit ton of music but don’t think I’ve ever come across Sudanese pop and I gotta say i dig it. Fire did some really cool stuff with bass guitar that set a really good vessel for the vocals which are something else. I wouldn’t be mad to stumble into this set.

 

SoDown

The rhythm and basslines are definitely the focus on The Start but he starts with some subtle keyboards before bringing in saxophone as the star of the show. He seems to use sax quite a bit, which actually would be pretty cool to see live. It’s a little like if Big Gigantic went through a basshead phase.

 

Sons of Kemet

Going hard on the brass with big rhythms on Inner Babylon.

 

Space Jesus

If Sublime went deep bass, you would get Hmu. Not my personal taste.

 

Spag Heddy

v aggro electronic, almost wanna call it “thrasher EDM”. Bring It had some interesting vocals but this isn’t my scene so will def be a pass from me. Love On First Sine was closer to my tastes but as soon as it brought my attention back to it went too far for me again.

 

Squnto

Wall of Death feels like the hero in the video game marching to meet the final boss. Then the bass gets so filthy that I couldn’t handle it and had to pull the ripcord. You’ll need to be into impossibly big bass to survive this set. Full set on Thurs and B2B Boogie T on Friday.

 

The String Cheese Incident

I feel grossly underqualified to assess SCI but the more I listen the more I see why these guys are iconic at Forest. They take modern funk to a place that is impossible not to enjoy. Everything I’ve read on Reddit suggest that String Cheese set is a full-on experience that you can’t really put into words, you have to be a part of it to really get the full experience. Stop Drop Roll my favorite track that I’ve come across so far.

 

SuperDuperKyle

Assuming this is in fact the artist formerly known as KYLE as per the only search result in Spotify, he takes summer vibes into hip hop in a way that works. iSpy w/ Lil Yachty has a crazy 452M Spotify listens, very lyrically centric. Playinwitme takes the instrumental down even further and let’s the vocals shine (though the piano part is really understated in a way that makes it a perfect complement).

 

SunSquabi

That perfect funk jam band quality that you just have to experience at a festival. Every track picks you up and takes you all the way around before putting you back down. Energy stays at a steady elevated level the whole time and you feel the twinge in your spine when they snap off an electric guitar solo. Kevin the guitarist did a Reddit AMA in April that was pretty cool. This is one of the sets I’m looking forward to the most, all the tracks I listen to are great you can’t go wrong with Cinnamon or Anytime or SquabCat.

 

Tennis Jacket ft. Marc Brownstein & Jeremy Salken

Apparently this is a new project between Marc Brownstein from Disco Biscuits and Jeremy Salken from Big Gigantic. According to this interview w/ Marc:

I bring a drummer—Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic—along from time to time. When we do that, it’s called Tennis Jacket. But, ya know, I’m just trying to explore music and learn new ways of performing. If the perfect opportunity presents itself, I’ll get myself out there and start mixing tracks together.

 

Testpilot

Whenever I see “original mix” even though I’m excited for new music I immediately expect it’s a new artist that must be up and coming and therefore unlikely to keep me interested during a festival set. The rationale here is there’s so much original music that if someone needs to tag something as an original mix its likely they have a major part of their set with covers and limited catalog of original stuff. Sunspot (White Space Conflict) evokes such an awesome mental picture that goes really well with the sound that I wanted to check out some other tracks. When I went on Spotify to try and find more music, that’s where things get interesting. I found Sunspot (White Space Conflict) on this official EF playlist. However, there is another Testpilot that seems like old school hardcore rock and roll (something you would expect to play on Guitar Hero). Both of these were on playlists that Electric Forest put out themselves. Then I was pretty surprised to see this given they are listed as a headliner on the lineup. No idea if I’m even listening to the right band at this point…

 

Too Many Zooz

NYC brasshouse trio. Warriors felt a little subdued, wish it was more powerful. Tricerahops gets special props for such a dope name though. They could have called it Triceradrops, they built a really cool drop which is not what you’d expect from all brass instruments. This is my favorite track by a pretty wide margin.

 

Toubab Krewe

I get a lot of Tycho when listening to Bamana Niya, has a great energy to it. Nirvana the Buffalo definitely not a Tycho vibe, lots of power chords and guitar solos. This actually has a lot of potential to be a cool set.

 

Turkuaz

Alternative Rock vocals meets 70s rhythms with On the Run (produced by the Talking Heads). I actually kinda dig it. Looks like 9 people in this band too, album cover suggests OK Go influences.

 

Two Feet

Feels like something you’d hear in a new age underground jazz club, Had Some Drinks is not really jazz since it brings a lot more prominent drums and bass but still has a smoky quality to it, cool use of finger snaps and very deliberate individual notes for the primary melody.

 

Vourteque

The first impression I had when Firelighter came on is “man, that vocal sounds just like Professor Elemental” and turns out the man who brought us Fighting Trousers is back in the game! I find myself oddly soothed by the vocals and horns and it only grows on me as the song goes on. Magic Dance took me back to watching Grease, that feel good storytelling style that doesn’t overpower you but leans on classical instruments like brass and piano.

 

Waker

Pike felt like I was on a beach at a luau with a live band, v island pop. They seem fun but not a lot that really grabs me.

 

The Werks

Best word I can use to describe the first time I heard these guys on Duck Farm would be “uplifting.” They definitely fall into the funk-driven jam band category w/ String Cheese Incident. Lots of long solos, where there are vocals they are almost like backup vocals to the guitar as the main point of emphasis.

 

The Whooligan

DJ from Brooklyn with nothing on Spotify but this mix from Diplo & Friends Show featured Biggie as the focal point on one of the tracks, which is never a bad thing in my book.

 

William Black

Letting Go is almost a little Illenium’esque.

 

Xavier Rudd

I’ve loved Xavier Rudd ever since I listed to White Moth album about a hundred times after getting stoned and watching Surfer Dude on repeat in my college dorm. This is perfect surfer music, would be stoked to see this as a sunset set and his fans are supposed to be incredible (which only enhances the experience). Better People and Come Let Go were the first songs that really grabbed me, Follow the Sun one of his most well known, Walk Away his most recent single dropped in 2018.

 

Xiuhtezcatl

One Day was a cool dichotomy between this dude rapping with super dope flow and more melody-driven female vocals.

 

Zeshan B

Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City seems to be going for that Aloe Blacc vibe, leaning heavily on strong soulful vocals that marry well w/ the blues instrumental. Transports you back to the 60s and feels like a civil rights anthem. I actually think this could be a solid sleeper, he hasn’t gotten a lot of play on Spotify but the tracks are really well written and produced.

 

ZHU

This is probably one of the most underrated acts on the lineup this year. Guilty Love cut deep and played that line between pleasure and pain really well. He almost toys with you a little bit with light and dark. Working For It w/ Skrillex is real solid.

 

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