Photos Courtesy of Elements Music & Arts Festival // Jake West, Ali Adinayev and Jamal Eid.
If you’re looking for an immersive camping festival that has it all, but doesn’t break the bank, Elements is it. It has everything you can ask of from the major music festivals like Electric Forest and Bonnaroo while still having the local and homegrown touch that creates a level of intimacy that is harder to foster at these massive festivals.
I was initially drawn to Elements due to its proximity to Connecticut and its impressive lineup featuring some of the biggest names in EDM like Skrillex, Subtronics, Rezz and Chris Lake, but I had no idea just how much more this festival had to offer. It seemed as if everywhere I looked there was something new and unique to discover, and after I got home, I saw across social media how much more there was that I missed.
Some highlights were the bonfires held each night in the Healing Garden, acrobatics at the Earth Stage, the art installations in the woods that would light up at night, fire dancers, the dragon that would snake through the crowd, characters, vendors and much more. There was not a moment to spare or a second of boredom.
There was no shortage of excitement within the campgrounds as well. I made my way to six different after party stages within the campgrounds to keep the party going after the last set of the night, sometimes even catching a rare surprise guest like John Summit. There were more vendors, saunas, showers, a tattoo bus and Zen Den within the campgrounds as well. I walked every inch of the festival and campgrounds and can confidently say that I can go back and still discover something new.
As for the music, standout sets that I saw were Skrillex, Rezz, Lane 8 and Lightcode by LSDream. Watching Skrillex throw down at the Fire Stage was one of the best moments of the festival. The stage design and pyrotechnics that surrounded the crowd were mind-blowing and to see one of the pioneers of the EDM and dubstep genres perform at a festival that felt so intimate was very special. The Fire Stage also had incredible views during sunset as the sun peaked through the stage during Lane 8’s set. Another highlight was during the last song of Rezz’s set which featured a fireworks show that seemed to last for at least fifteen minutes, lighting up the entire sky.
However, the set that most people who attended can agree was the most influential set was at 11:00AM and not a single person was dancing. LSDream hosted a sound bath and meditation set within the woods under his side project Lightcode where people came to lie down, take a moment to look within themselves and set intentions for the remainder of the festival and life after returning home. Over 4,000 people woke up and made it to the festival early to share in this spiritual moment with one another. People were crying, hugging one another and spreading love in a way I have never seen before.
That being said, I do believe every festival can make improvements. Entering the festival grounds was a very long process. They seemed to be understaffed on parking attendants which led to cars creating dozens of lanes that funneled into one, creating very long wait times. However, once away from will call, the lines moved quickly and efficiently. The festival could’ve also used more directional signage. We had to ask around to find out which stage was which within the festival and campgrounds. Not knowing what the stages looked like in advance and having them not labeled made reading the maps very difficult. They also could’ve used significantly more showers and bathrooms in the campgrounds as lines got very long. Additionally, the terrain was very rough if you did not prepare proper footwear in advance. The ground, especially within the woods, was very uneven, rocky and muddy, which forced an extra layer of caution while walking around the festival.
Finally, there was a moment on Saturday where the festival had to be evacuated for lightning, and many patrons felt there could’ve been more communication on the plans for the remainder of the festival. This could’ve been due to a lack of phone service, but the only messaging most patrons received prior to the evacuation was an announcement on stage. There were no social media posts explaining the evacuation or plans to re-enter leaving many single day pass holders confused. However, the festival did resume about an hour later with adjusted set times posted on the festival’s instagram page and the fun picked right up where it left off.
Overall, these minor inconveniences did not negatively impact my experience or deter me from returning. I still consider this to be one of the most fun festivals I’ve been to and I will cherish the memories I made here for years to come. If you have a chance to attend Elements next year, I highly recommend.