Capturing Magic with Phun Photos: Electric Forest

By Kevin Alan Lamb

It is a privilege to cover Electric Forest; 2018 will be my fifth consecutive year as media, sixth Forest as media, and seventh Electric Forest. When we are fortunate enough to navigate a path that leads to what we love, it is essential we practice gratitude with offerings of effort, creativity, and hard work. I’ve always taken great pride in creating and documenting special moments within the masterpiece that continues to be molded by Madison House Presents. The notion of belonging comes from contribution; the more we contribute the more we feel like we belong; and the more we feel at home the greater our likeliness to welcome others into our beautiful and eccentric community.

Notions such as community framed the walls of my heart long before I ever carried a Good Sign, but early on I learned our powers combined served as a beacon of hope, love, understanding, and progress. I’ve always felt it would be more difficult to mistreat others if we knew one another, even in the casual sense, so I started a positive conversation with humanity, one person at a time. My journey began on street corners, coffee shops, grocery stores, concerts, and of course – with my words. Everyday I fell more in love with our species by getting to know it, and focusing on those who used their gifts to encourage and empower others. It didn’t happen overnight, but the world caught on, and delivered me to my first Electric Forest (and first festival) in 2013.

The Revivalists, 2017 Weekend 2

I came bearing Good Signs, passion, and optimism to spare; in return, I was shown a life I could live that would make myself and others, truly happy. My happiness, just like yours, is contagious. An often cold, self-centered world had manifest the prime conditions for joy to outbreak and help others find their way to one another and risk their vulnerability long enough to find courage and do something spectacular – inspire others. Since its creation Electric Forest has grown to be a Mecca in the festival world, doubled into a second weekend while maintaining its special place in the hearts of the masses as a result of its ability to inspire, to cherish, and to hold a dynamic sense of individuation from the collective offerings of its attendees.

Coleman Hell, 2016

(Interview with Coleman Hell)

The Forest reminded folks that sharing their creative inclinations carried no different weight than the artist performing on stage; in turn, The Forest became a stage where everyone is encouraged to be their desired self and perform as if the world, or no one was watching. I am a man with something to say, who has always searched for the right stage, and Electric Forest helped me find it. If I had a baseball card with my EF stats on the back it would look something like this:

Interviews: 40, Sets Photographed: 150, Phun Photos: 100, Good Signs Given Away: 10k, Hugs: 5k, Conversations with Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros while on stage: 1!

(Interview with Chris Richard, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros)

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, 2015

I was first a writer, and later a photographer. As a result there was a time when my friends and I were primarily the subjects of Phun Photos. We always invited others to join, especially as popularity grew as a result of exposure through experience and social media. Folks and photographers would spend an entire weekend chasing us down, hoping to capture or be a part of a photo with a Good Sign. Over time, I picked up a camera and with it, would give my totem to another so I could share its positive vibrations with others, and capture the moment. While I’ve always enjoyed being in Phun Photos, I found a greater sense of self orchestrating their magnitude. If you have ever participated in one, then you know just how and when it happens: without premeditation or reservation. I hand off my totem, then rapidly inform others that “We’re taking a Phun Photo, you’re welcome to be in it, but you don’t have to.”

The String Cheese Incident, 2017 Weekend 1

Many years in the making, folks recognize what is taking place as a sea of humans displace themselves and come together in five minutes or less, often during a set, with their backs turned away from the stage with hundreds, sometimes thousands of others to create and capture celebration at its precipice – a moment they can later hold in their hands and in their hearts to retrace the trail of breadcrumbs which leads to the magic in their soul when the world and circumstance try to will it from their grasp. Phun Photos mean a lot to me because they wouldn’t be possible without you; and y’all believe in me enough to want to create something special together.

Matisyahu, 2017 Weekend 1

(Interview with Matisyahu)

Mankind’s willingness to destroy is readily documented, but for it to exist, there must be an equal and opposite force for good who wish to create, and it is you I seek, and find meaning living for. Over the course of my life I have learned of my (and your) ability to manifest destiny, to envision a masterful work of art and with each purposeful choice serving as a brushstroke, painting a better world to live and love in. With these words comes the choice to invite each and everyone of you who wish to combat destruction with creation, to join your brothers and sisters with open minds and hearts, the courage to form a helping hand, and encourage the world to join us in making magic in every way we’re able, without reservation, without hesitation, without fear, without hate, without double standards, with each other, one Phun Photo at a time at Electric Forest 2018.

Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound. Buy Tickets to Electric Forest 2018


A History of Phun Photos at Electric Forest 

My Morning Jacket, 2017 Weekend 1
Joe Hertler (DJ Set) 2017 Weekend 2

(Interview with Joe Hertler)

Trevor Hall, 2017 Weekend 1

(Interview with Trevor Hall)

Infamous Stringdusters, 2017 Weekend 1

(Interview with Chris Pandolfi, The Infamous Stringdusters)

The Hip Abduction, 2017 Weekend 1
Golf Clap, 2017 Weekend 1
PhunPhoto 1
Phun Photo11
Group Hug




Talia Keys

Stick Figure
Stick Figure, 2016
PP Forest stage 2016
Rock the vote 2016
PP28 2016
Greensky Bluegrass, 2016
Jellyfish 2016
The Jellyfish, 2016

Greensky Bluegrass, Fillmore Detroit

By Kevin Alan Lamb

No matter your disposition, if you are lucky enough the music you love flows through your veins long enough to recreate a world you see, touch, taste, love, and lose in. When something is within you long enough it becomes you; the very way the soul of a man shapes his dreams, music breathes belief into these shapes, sights and sounds, until one day when there is no telling where it begins, and you end. And while it is literally medicine to navigate the weight created by water taken on in the struggle between high and low tide, I am most grateful for the cathedral of awe and wonder from which music has built my love into my life.

Greensky Bluegrass cannot be gathered, bottled, packaged and sold, but it oughta be. Certainly you can buy a ticket, take a ride, and collect some souvenirs along the way, but music cannot be incepted into the mind, if it wasn’t already in the blood to begin with. It is near impossible to fathom what it is that will take hold of your soul, but when it does, I recommend you cherish it; take several deep breaths and open your eyes wide to see and feel and be infected by the phenomena which you will do your best to understand, appreciate and internalize, yet somehow inevitably let slip away with exposure to struggle, scrutiny, and the constant bitch of time. But do not worry, even though it will feel like something has slipped from your fingers, it is impossible to lose something that is a part of you.

Two-thousand-and-seventeen was a historic year for Michigan and music, and we all know history is not made without great struggle and loss. But as a good friend recently reminded me, life is a persistent journey between struggles and blessings; and despite the pain we try to convince ourselves we’d prefer to perish from than navigate, those we love and the music we cannot separate ourselves from find a way to remind us that we must traverse through the darkness to better learn to illuminate what resides on the other side.

June bore the blessing of my first Bell’s Garden Opener, then took the life of my friend, and my friend Greg’s love. We learned what it means to be a family; we were reminded how much we need one another and how much more frequently we could say it. We took inventory of the lives music let us touch, and thought about what it might feel like if they were gone.

Are you looking out for me

Or am I left to be without you

It could be years of the saddest rhymes

Like hard times when a loved one dies

Or heartache in empty home

Forced to take the sleepless nights

Alone, alone, alone

But no matter your disposition, we are not alone because we have their music within us. We have Bell’s, train tracks, and the sound of a whistle blowing. We have Hoxeyville, Tied Down, and three sets to say goodbye to Charles Bradley and those we love and have lost in the pouring rain along the Pine River. Music is the current that keeps the river flowing, to places like Otus Supply, which embodies a dream of mine, a dream of many, made into reality. And while the flow of the river will not always allow us to be at The State Theatre for Thanksgiving, Mexico for Strings & Sol, or toasting champagne at The Riviera in Chicago, it will always bring us to one another, and for that – it is sacred.

Music is my drug of choice and Greensky Bluegrass is the current from which I find strength. I miss their presence from my life and my silly family who reminds to be extraordinary by being myself; being good to others; and learning to better let go, to let better in. Please join me at the venue I love, in the city I love, to see two nights of the only band to use my garage as storage thus far, and initiate The Fillmore Detroit into our holy doctrine. And always remember… Disney could concoct a character named Grit, forged from an acoustic and electric foundation of five visionaries who refuse to be drowned by the world’s shit, taking the stage each night intent on teaching others how to survive by swimming through their sorrows.

Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound.

See Greensky Bluegrass Friday, February 9, at The Fillmore Detroit

See Greensky Bluegrass Saturday, February 10, at The Fillmore Detroit