“It’s not even real music” “Its literally the same sound over and over again” “Everyone just goes to get fucked up” and the list goes on an on. The deeper I dive into the electronic music scene, the more people I find that are against it. But why? Is it the stereotypes surrounding the scene? Is it the way people dress at shows (which I’ll admit, is kind of crazy)? Or what could it be? Before I knew what electronic dance music was, I was a hater of it. I thought it was just a drug/alcohol fueled mess with the same repetitive beats over and over again with a bunch of weirdos jumping around for a guy behind a table. That’s it. I never would have imaged in a million years that I would turn into one of those weirdos jumping around.
3 years ago I came to Graceland University and all I listened to was rap, indie and alternative music. That’s literally it. If someone were to show me a new song and it didn’t fit into those categories I would instantly shrug it off and dislike it. Thankfully, my blind eyes were opened to the electronic music world, and not by my choice. The friends I made here at school really enjoyed edm and whenever I was around them I was always forced to listen to it. Of course me being me, I resisted at first. And then suddenly it was like something in me popped and bam, I liked the music I was listening to. I slowly started branching out and started out looking up the popular artists at the time such as Skrillex, Bassnectar, The Chainsmokers, and many more and gradually I fell in love. Whenever I listened to a song I got lost in it. It was a great feeling that continued to grow into what it is now, a complete and utter love for the whole scene.
I’ll never forget my first show, or festival I should say. Electric Forest, a 4 day electronic music festival held in the Sherwood Forest in Rothbury, Michigan. To say it was the best time of my life was an understatement. It changed my life. Literally. I’ve struggled with depression since I began high school and it has been a big part of my life ever since, but those 4 days I felt so much happiness that I didn’t even know what to do with myself. There’s honestly nothing like being surrounded by 10’s of thousands of people, all moving together to a song completely immersed in everything going on. Everyone I met during that festival impacted my life in one way or another. It was amazing. I took all the love I felt at EF and transferred it to my real life. After I went back home, I decided that I just couldn’t wait until the next festival so I started going to shows in KC (where I’m originally from). At these shows I’ve met people that have become good friends of mine. Every time I make the almost 2 hour back to KC from Graceland for a show, I always run into a friend that I’ve made at previous shows and it makes the night that much better. The best part about these shows is that for 5 or so hours I got to escape to a world in my head to where I felt nothing but happiness and joy. Every drop in a song lit a fire in me that could only be contained by movement. For the entire show I’m constantly moving, jumping, dancing and most importantly, smiling. There’s nothing like having a stressful day and ending it with great vibes and music that I love. Live shows are what I live for.
A huge part of the edm scene is obviously the live shows. Nothing compares to the feeling of being at a live show with the bass booming so hard that you can feel it vibrate through your whole body. It’s an indescribable feeling, really. I’ve been to so many concerts that I can’t even count them. I’ve seen Machine Gun Kelly three times, AWOLnation twice, imagine dragons twice, twenty one pilots four times, and a LOT of edm shows and nothing compares to the edm ones. Of course, all of the other concerts I went to were a blast, but the community you are surrounded in at electronic shows is out of this world. Some of the nicest people I’ve met were in the middle of the dance floor helping out a random person who has collapsed from the heat or some other reason. At rap shows I’ve seen people pass out left and right and their friends just get them out of the crowd to the medical booth and hop right back in the crowd without a care for their fallen comrade. It’s a complete 360 when you go to a Bassnectar (one of my favorite’s) show. If someone goes down for any reason everyone and I mean EVERYONE around them pick them back up and take them to where they can get help. And most of the time the people that take the fallen concert goer usually stay with them until they are either okay or someone has an eye on them. Another thing that I tend to see a lot at these shows is that people share everything. For example, this blog that I read has a guy talking about his first Bassnectar show and how great the community aspect of it was.
While I was at Electric Forest over the past summer I was surrounded by 45,000 people. On the way there I had no idea what to expect. Having never been to even an electronic show yet, I was a nervous on what I got myself into. But as soon as I passed under the
Electric Forest sign, all my worries instantly disappeared . We arrived at the festival at 11 pm on Wednesday night (the gates were supposed to be open at 10 am Thursday, but we wanted a close camping spot) and the line was backed out to the free way ramp so the workers had no choice but to start allowing all the festival goers in. My friends Kyle and Christian were with me and when we finally got through the line and got our tent set up it was already 5 am. Right off the bat we made a connection with our tent neighbors Pam and Anthony (Unrelated, Anthony is an aspiring producer by the name of Extrax, feel free to check him out). These two people were awesome and drove all the way from New York to attend this festival. We spent a lot of the four days checking out sets with them and hanging out at our campsite just having a good time and soaking up all of the good vibes. The four days went by so quickly and on the last day it was emotional leaving all of our new found friends and leaving such a life changing place. It’s almost been a year since I’ve last seen either of them, but we still talk occasionally through Facebook and twitter. My story is not unusual though, most people have similar experiences in the Sherwood Forest. Madi, a fellow forester, wrote a great article that talks more in depth about her experience at EF and how it had an impact on her own personal life as well. It’s a little lengthy but it is awesome to see another persons perspective from the event. All in all, I feel like I can’t reiterate enough how amazing it is being surrounded by people who love the same thing as you do. Going to electronic shows and festivals are the most fun I’ve ever had in my 21 years of life and I wish everyone could experience them at least once before they die.
“Why would you ever go to an “EDM” show?” is a question that I get a lot, and each time I get it I can add a new reason to my ever growing list of why I go. Whether it’s the bump of the music, the friends that I make at every show, the vibes from everyone around me or a chance to escape from the real world for a bit, it is happiness that drives it all.
P.S. In case you didn’t believe me on how fucking cool Electric Forest was, just watch this or this and you’ll get it. Or if you want to see my poor quality snaps (sorry I’m not good at making videos) you can also check out my short video I put on my Facebook.