Lightning in a Bottle: Not Just a Hippie Gathering
A few weeks ago, you may have caught my preview on a lesser-known festival in the EDM community called Lightning in a Bottle. If you haven’t read it, go read it now. No, seriously, go do it.
For weeks leading up to the festival, I was so excited to experience something different from the norm of electronic festivals, but I have to admit, regardless of all the research I did and all of the great things I heard from past years’ LiB attendees, I still didn’t know what to expect.
The only camping festivals I’ve attended were ones that I usually drive to (like the incredibly beautiful Gorge in Eastern Washington), so packing for a flight to San Francisco and another 3 hour car ride afterwards was a bit of a struggle. There were no fluffies, LED gloves or excessive amounts of neon in my bag; I was sure to include the essentials (spirit hood and face paint, duh), as well as a pair of my harem pants and enough sunscreen to drown in. Little did I know that it didn’t even matter what you wore: LiB has a very welcoming “come as you are” mentality.
It’s interesting, to say the least, when you see this festival with a sparkling lake right behind the stage and show up to a completely dried up bed of what was once water. California is going through a fierce drought right now, and it shows. Festival organizers are sure to alert people of what the landscape once looked like, as a reminder to all that the way we choose to live and use our resources is precious. The festival is also family friendly, with separate campgrounds for those who want to bring their little ones, and the campgrounds were literally part of the festival, surrounding each stage. This made the experience feel more like a village, and like home.
I’m used to being at festivals where day drinking and making three days in the sun into a giant party before going in to see the music was the norm. What I REALLY experienced were sun salutations at one of many group yoga tents, numerous activities including workshops, talks and more, live art, and even incredible food stands in a marketplace with handmade goods from around the globe.
We ended up hitting up a talk at the New Belgium brewery’s tent (the beverage sponsor of the festival) and learned about their efforts to decrease their environmental footprint, as well as drink some awesome beer. That was my favorite talk, but I’m also a sucker for good craft beer and companies that are environmentally friendly. I personally found a lot of the more spiritual talks as a little less to be desired, but maybe learning about ayahuasca and talking to a Siberian Sherpa about finding myself just isn’t really my jam. However, the meditation sessions were really cool, and I’d highly recommend them.
There were multiple stages around the festival, and each were awesome in their own way. The Lightning (main) Stage had a huge area with the lake bed set behind it, and proved to be the best place to watch some of the most epic sunsets I’ve ever seen. The Woogie stage boasted an awesome Pure Groove sound system, that put Funktion-One to shame and could have you feeling the bass wubb wubb from your insides out. That is where you found everyone grooving from noon til the early AM, as it was only customary to “boogie at The Woogie”. The Bamboo Stage was the lesser known stage, but you could see the dozens and dozens of high tech lasers blasting off that baby from a mile away. It also headlined some of my favorite acts of the festival, including What So Not, Tourist and Kraddy.
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Each stage was decorated down to the minute details, each reusing artistic structures from previous years of Do LaB stages from Coachella. These recycled stages were definitely a true testament to how important preserving the environment is to this festival, as well as the concept of leaving a place better than you found it. Only biodegradable soaps were allowed in the outdoor showers and all cutlery, plates and cups were compostable. Even one food vendor only served their meals in reusable bowls, which you were required to wash yourself before you were served.
I know, you want me to get to the coolest part, the music. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time constantly dancing. There was dancing wherever you went; the campground, the marketplace, the stages, the bars and especially the after parties, which lasted long into the evening and early daylight.
Who were my favorites? My music highlights are as follows:
The head of deep and groovy Dirtybird Records closed out our first night of LiB at The Woogie, and his performance was one that stuck with me through the rest of the weekend’s countless sets. I’ve never seen an artist be able to mesh minimal sound and loud, thumping bass together in such an effortless manner that kept the crowd grooving ’til the music ended in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Anyone who’s motto is “Get Weird” is a fan of mine. Burridge was entitled to 3 glorious hours at The Woogie on Sunday afternoon, when we were blessed with a mostly dustless day and plenty of hot, sweaty sunshine. Though he’s known for his sunrise sets (that I plan to check out at Burning Man this year), Lee Burridge can get one hell of a daytime party going. There wasn’t a single LiB-goer that wasn’t grooving out to their heart’s content, and even though the temperature continued to rise, we continued to dance.
I’ll admit that I had a moment during Tourist, especially when he played one of his latest singles “I Can’t Keep Up”. We had met up with our entire camp at that point, and being in the company of great people plus the sultry vibes of Tourist made me very grateful to be alive and to have the life I was given. The UK-based producer had The Bamboo Stage united as one, hands in the air and eyes closed. It truly was a magical experience.
OH GIRL. Let me just get started on how much I love J.Philp’s music, and how much more I love it since she’s a hot chick who can throw down on those decks. Dirtybird’s female talent really show her Chicago house roots, with grooves at The Woogie that were a perfect warm up to a long night of movin’ and groovin’. She’s got flawless mixing and track choices that will always have you wondering what’s coming next. After LiB she jetted off to Detroit’s Movement Festival and got the opportunity to strut her stuff and close out their Beatport Stage after a headliner unexpectedly backed out. the crowd’s reaction to her set? “WOW.”
What So Not
After being a Flume fangirl for years, I was so excited to hear that Harley Streten had started up a new side project with fellow Aussie producer Emoh Instead to form the duo What So Not. You could feel the entire Bamboo Stage buzzing within the half hour before the set started on Sunday; after a weekend full of deep house and chill vibes, we were ready to get a little rowdy. The crowd went nuts for tracks like “Touched” and “Jaguar” and I’m pretty sure my feet were at least 6 inches off the ground while I was jumping. WSN’s music, combined with the epic lasers at Bamboo provided us with a perfect ending to an incredible weekend.
So, ok, admittedly, I was pretty sold on anything that played at The Woogie, but I’m a creature of habit and I know what I like! 😉 Lightning in a Bottle is so much more than music though, and I am so lucky to have experienced it.
The most important thing I learned from this festival? That as humans, we truly are all the same deep down. We all want love, we all want companionship and damnit, we all just want to dance! I was lucky enough to take the weekend to spend some quality time with my boyfriend and another close friend, but even more lucky to meet the incredible group of people that we camped with. At LiB, everyone is just one big family, because hey, if we’re all here sharing this planet, why shouldn’t we be?
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