Why Electric Forest Festival Is Worth Escaping to Michigan For

As I've come to learn living in Arizona for my first summer ever, there's a new motive for looking forward to summer vacations: getting the hell out of town. 110-degree weather isn't my cup of tea, so why not a quick get-away?

This time last year I was leaving the muggy city of Houston with the same idea: To visit Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan. People ask me why I'm going again -- of course I sigh and laugh and say, "If only you knew." I'm not just being rude while trying to avoid their questions, but it was and still is almost impossible to describe Electric Forest in words. Some facial expressions, noise, dancing and even silence is necessary to get out what my get-away is really all about.

It might help if you know some of my adventures at last year's Forest, and what I hope to endure this time around. I may sound like some hippy hipster Mother Earth dweep, but the forest did teach me a lot about society and myself last year. The forest can teach you a few things, give or take.

Last year, I found myself simply seeking out artists. I knew that I had to see certain DJs and bands, and that was that; I never assumed that I should or necessarily needed to sit in a hammock beneath the LED-lit forest at night and take everything in. I never thought staring at artwork for a good hour could take me away from a DJ's set -- all that might have taken away from my experience last year, and I hope to improve on it this year.

Last year, I was going through some rocky times in my life. I didn't know what I wanted or even really needed in some aspects of life. I was lost, no lie -- probably a trainwreck. I think I played it off pretty well, though. In a way, I wanted to get away and take some music in, so I went off with a few friends of mine from ASU to Electric Forest.

This year, I feel complete, or at least not as lost or confused. I have my shit in order, and I know what I want and need, which is good. I've kind of figured things out. But there are a few differences from last year already, and I've yet to enter the Forest.

Just less than a week ago, June 20, I found myself flying into Detroit to be with my boyfriend and meet more of his family members for a wedding. Meeting the friends and family can be a bit nerve-racking, but things have been just fine. Okay -- maybe a few bumps in the road at first, but things have never been better.

On June 26, the two of us will be venturing off to Rothbury to camp for four days and nights and endure what I experienced on this vacation last year once again. Joe has never been to Electric Forest, so of course he's in for a treat; maybe he'll even take in some of the same experiences I did the year before.

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The stage productions, music, art and activities are on par with the average music festival. They may even exceed whatever the fuck par may be for a music festival. I've been told by some who've been to Electric Forest not only in 2012 but in 2011, the production improves exponentially every time; I can only imagine what is in store this year.

But I have to stop myself, because as I learned last year, this whole experience isn't truly about the music; that's just its foundation. The atmosphere as a whole is the point, including the several thousands of people at the festival with you. Last year I actually let myself open up, and stopped being shy little Taylor. And I found myself with an amazing set of people to hang out with in the forest, people I even continued talking to after it was all over.

That's one of the main lessons to take away from Electric Forest or any music festival at that: The realization that people from all over are coming as individuals to experience the same thing. Everyone could be your friend.

After the jump: The best of the 2013 Electric Forest lineup.

This year, I'm beyond excited to be in the Forest all over again, with the chance to see artists like Knife Party, Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, Trombone Shorty, Above & Beyond, and many more. But I do look forward to letting the whole experience soak in once again. I'm excited to spend this year with my boyfriend, a music lover of course; I don't think I could ever be with someone who didn't like music. Last but not least, I get to meet up with some of my forest friends from last year, and probably meet some new friends during the festivities this time around.

Last year, in an article I wrote after it all, I said, "I fell in love with music and the people that I shared it with. The place, people, and music taught me more about myself than I had ever known."

I hope to fall in love with the forest all over again, along with the people I shared the experiences with. Electric Forest did teach me a lot about myself last year. And yes--that shit's pretty deep and intimate. I can't get into it, because if I started I might never shut up.

My main point: one experience, walk in the park, or vacation could change someone's outlook on life. That's what Electric Forest did for me last year. I find it refreshing, and it's a joy to go back to a place that gave me new perspectives on life and myself as an individual.

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