The Electric Forest itself is the star of this festival, but the lineup was packed with great, big-stage performers. Here are some performance highlights from my magical time there.

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Xavier Rudd at Electric Forest

Xavier Rudd‘s show is perfect for festivals, with his focus on environmental issues and his easy way with the crowd. He referred to the Native Americans who once walked this forest, and offered a prayer that we would tread lightly on this land.

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Stephen Marley gets the crowd moving – Electric Forest

Stephen Marley refers to his family heritage while creating his own guitar-heavy reggae set. The crowd came out of the shade to dance to his set.

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DJ on the Tripolee stage at Electric Forest

DJ on the Tripolee Stage. “You guys go so hard, I just gotta stop and say thank you right now.”

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String Cheese Incident’s Michael Kang and Bill Nershi

String Cheese Incident are the headliners of this festival, with three shows this weekend. They’ve been a part of the fest all along, and they draw the biggest crowd of followers.

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String Cheese Incident’s Keith Moseley

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String Cheese Incident’s Michael Kang

String Cheese Incident’s Saturday-night set was nuts, with a huge Donkey Kong game played out with ? box balloons, an acrobat Princess, a man in a monkey suit, and ghosts swinging on fishing-pole-style sticks through the crowd.

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“Princess Peach” in an elaborate game of Donkey Kong

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Donkey Kong Climax

String Cheese Incident’s second set of the night, with Lauryn Hill, seemed like an odd pairing (Hill had played her own set on Friday), but the combination of Fugees songs and reggae favorites was a huge success.

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String Cheese Incident’s second set of the night, with Lauryn Hill

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The Lauryn Hill Incident

STS9 combines the jam band and electronic sides of the festival, with a killer light show. They also played two shows this weekend.

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(STS9) Sound Tribe Sector 9 on stage at Electric Forest

Aloe Blacc played early on Sunday afternoon, and at first it seemed as if he wouldn’t have much of a crowd. But as soon as his strong soul voice came over the speakers of the main stage, the fans came out. He was one of the few performers who didn’t fit into the jam or electronic scenes, but he created a great laid-back mood, and showed that he does have something in common with the fest’s revelers, saying, “Let us be the weed, and you can smoke us.”

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Aloe Blacc

Later in the set, Blacc pointed out a crowd members, saying, “I like this guy. He’s throwing up gang signs for love. Can y’all do that? We got gang signs for love!”

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Aloe Blacc

Nashville’s Moon Taxi rocked the Sherwood Court stage hard on Saturday afternoon, and seemed to have a great time doing it. Their set reminded me of some of My Morning Jacket’s epic festival shows.

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Moon Taxi

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Moon Taxi’s Trevor Turndrup

Matt and Kim launched into the kind of festival set that temporarily cures your fest ADD. I had planned to leave partway through their set to catch a band on another set, but between Kim’s raunchy theatrics and Matt’s infectious energy, I couldn’t look away. They brought their own balloons, throwing them into the crowd and asking them to blow them up. All the colorful balloons against the blue sky was one of the most beautiful images of the festival.

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Balloons in the crowd during Matt and Kim’s set

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Matt and Kim

Not to be outdone, St. Lucia also delivered a high-energy set on the other side of the Forest.

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St. Lucia

String Cheese Incident ‘s Sunday set wasn’t as extreme as the Donkey Kong/Lauryn Hill incident, but the jams were good, and they showed their versatility with epic covers of the Police’s “Spirits in the Material World” and the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless, and even threw in their own dubstep-style bass drop.

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String Cheese Incident (Sunday set)

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String Cheese Incident (Sunday set)

The festival ended with a rare DJ set from Moby on the Tripolee stage. He went on early and was cut off early because of strong storms due in the area, but the crowd was fired up, and it was a great way to end an eclectic fest.

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Moby on the Tripolee stage