The Hottest and the Weirdest: LIB 2014

Jemayel Khawaja brings us, via VICE,a great review of LIB 2014. He thinks the hottest people from Burning Man were there – wow. This year it was moved halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, after problems with the cops at last year’s Temecula venue.

Photos by Juliana Bernstein, courtesy of The Confluence
Everyone at Lightning in a Bottle is a weirdo in some sort of way. It’s like the hottest people from Burning Man and the strangest people from Coachella all converged on the moon with the intention of starting a temporary musical space tribe. Getting weird is encouraged and there’s an implied social contract to offer positive vibes. 
This past weekend, May 23-25, The Do LaB hosted their event for the first time at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA. Prompted by friction with local law enforcement in Temecula, CA last year, promoters moved for the fourth consecutive edition, this time halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles in California’s Central Valley. It’s a sprawling chaparral tract, with deep valleys separating all of the main areas. The sight of sunburned and tired hippies trudging up steep and dusty slopes was ubiquitous by the third day, but the scope of the land added to the feeling that Lightning was a whole different world. 
… I’m pretty sure I smelled DMT in the crowd during his set. Baauer would not be my first choice as a soundtrack to a dimension crossing mind journey, but hey, you only LiB once, especially if you crossover into the other-sphere and never return. 
After hours, the party descends into two of the valleys, The Drift and The Ditch, where DJ setups nestled into tree trunks went until the sunrise. In the mornings, people were raving about sunrise sets by Desert Dwellers and Random Rab. I spent the daytime checking out some of the extra-curricular activities. A major aspect of The Do LaB’s mission is using music and the festival setting as a portal for information about alternative modes of thinking. There are lectures and workshops taking place all day long in grandly designed amphitheaters. They range from meditation seminars to talks on the dangers of mercury poisoning in the dental industry. 
I watched a man named Bashar give a lecture. He claimed to be a medium for an alien species and advised the crowd on better living techniques. Afterwards, he took a Q+A and gave advice about vegetarianism and job hunting before snapping back into his embodied self in a dazed state. It was during this speech that a friend of mine met a young dreadlocked man for the first time with whom, at the time of writing, she is currently driving up to Santa Cruz to marry. No kidding. 
All the cups and cutlery aren’t just recyclable, they’re compostable. This is the greenest festival in America and all the kids chomping down on veggie burgers and potato knishes while holding on to cigarette butts in their pockets and packing trash into their cars stands testament to the ethos. It’s really nice to see people able to retain rowdy levels of rage while also maintaining some semblance of responsibility. 
While at Coachella it can feel kind of weird to see young kids, at Lightning in a Bottle, even though the environs are significantly wonkier, the presence of children somehow feels natural...Just walking around the little worlds people create out there is a journey within itself. 
The Woogie is one of the most unique stage designs I’ve ever seen. It’s a colorful, pineapple-shaped treehouse built in to a massive oak tree…One rad aspect of LiB is that DJs enjoy lengthy sets; it’s a great chance to go deep into a selector’s collection. 
While a lot of electronic music festivals tussle to outdo each other while playing the same game, Lightning in a Bottle has quietly developed into a supremely unique festival with some deep character. It’s not about being the coolest. It’s not even really about raging the hardest. It’s just about being your weird ass self, smelling of campground and fumbling your way through a dutty wine while staring at some trippy lights. People talk about Mysteryland returning to the spiritual home of Woodstock, but the community that populated LiB seems more attuned to what those flower children laid those many decades ago. Props to you all, strange and beautiful people of LiB. You’re a special breed. That said, I’d really like a steak
LIB – so good, even aliens go to it. One of my favorite festivals, sounds like it was as great as ever this year. Any readers go? How was it? Please share your experiences in the comments.

14 comments on “The Hottest and the Weirdest: LIB 2014

  1. Do Lab knows how to produce a party. One reason LIB is different is from a design perspective. Most fests design from a stage outward. LIB visionaries see the entire venue and stages are but one element to the overall vision.

    Our booth is the Cajun Queen and we were very happy to see you enjoying our food. Thanks for being part of the fun. See you next year.

  2. LiB was pure magic! So much love, so many visionaries, so much creation. Im still radiating from all the love shared there. Between the beautiful meditation workshop, impromptu music by general music makers that we’re contributing their own beautiful music, it was unique and perfect. It had Burning man spirit and Coachella magic. It was a fantastic festival and one I highly recommend!

  3. Lucidity was actually the greenest festival….they didn’t pass out recyclable paper plates and cups, they actually made an entire reusable dish program, mostly with bamboo products. LIB was left filthy, trash EVERYWHERE. It was definitely much more of a rave than a transformational and it’s safe to say I WILL NOT BE RETURNING.

    • Uhmmm, I think some may say LIB was all yoga and meditation, little 5 year olds may have thought LIB was all arts and crafts. Any festival with so much variety in entertainment and education is going to be what you make of it, along with the crew that you’re camping with — they’ll influence your perspective too… Much love on your next adventure. 🙂

  4. After Burning Man — the metropolis of outdoor festivals, it seemed like every outdoor festival I’ve been to were simply tame in comparison, so I didn’t expect much from Lightning in a Bottle… My camp had people from the East Coast, France, Germany, London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where a large portion had never been to an outdoor party like this. They were impressed by the California Love and couldn’t get over how happy everyone was. By the third day, my jaw hurt from smiling too much and a few people revealed that at one point they took it all in and cried during yoga or meditation on the mountain.

    Just when I thought there was nothing else to learn from life after my Burning Man experience a few years ago…

    …Here are some things I learned at LIB:
    1. Psychedelic Yoga is painful and beautiful at the same time.
    2. Rattlesnakes sound like water sprinklers are chasing you.
    3. When you see a stranger trying to take a selfie, always offer to capture the moment for them; as a bonus they may give you something in return; a sip of whisky; a smile; a hug.
    4. Laugh and smile as much as you can because it’s contagious and smile even more so when your body hurts from dancing and hiking up and down ravines because it will heal you faster.
    5. You may lose people or material things on the journey, but it will all come back with a story behind it… as most beauty and enlightenment can only come from loss.

    There was supposed to be a meteor shower one night at LIB, and I thought it would be cool to capture a timelapse of it… I saw none. No matter though, we’re all made from star stuff and it was that dusty LIB dancefloor on Earth that radiated more brightly than the heavens.

    My timelapse video is here:

  5. Yes, it’s all that and more. My first time and it *completely* blew me away. If California ever recovers from this drought the lake (which isn’t one, currently) will really take this festival over the top. The music, the vibe and the participants were all really exceptional. Lots of young children, a great location and a benevolent attitude from law enforcement made it that much more special. It was in some ways a cross between Burning Man, the Renaissance Faire and Coachella…but also uniquely it’s own. Everyone’s spirit was uncorked. Simply an absolute must-do for any Burner….this event is only going to get bigger as the word gets out.

    More images here:

  6. Was a great event, honestly couldnt put my finger on how I felt of it the whole week. The acts and artists were AMAZING, despite a few half-acts (Amon Tobin (dj set only… cmon, its Amon Tobin), and What So Not sans Flume…), the stages were incredibly cool in a simple way without being super done up. Great emphasis on the Woogie stage, which showcased more local and deep house DJ’s of incredible quality. What confused me is that honestly, the whole week i felt like i was just CAMPING with some sweet music and stuff happening around me. How did this make me feel?

    Great, just beyond awesome. Hanging with new friends, cuddle puddles, sleeping in tepee’s and gong rooms and listening to the ethereal wonders of vocalists at the temple thing near main stage? A great weekend indeed.

    Final prognosis? It WILL be a good festival at its new location, its a great event with great potential now that its gone through its trial run on new land. I would have to say it needs to change the date to a time more suited to the lake actually being full of water and maybe some bridges or other trails that dont involve hiking up massive hills in the unbelievably hot sun and choking dust. Exodus needs a fair amount of work as well… 3 1/2 hours wait in the sun just to get to my car? No thanks… Other than that though, really solid work, great vibes, good burner atmosphere and incredible extras that would definitely get me to come back in a few years time.

  7. Lightning in a Bottle is hands down my favorite music festival. You just can’t beat the amazing vibe, incredible people, one-of-a-kind consciousness and killer music. It’s almost like a Burning Man training camp. One of my favorite things is asking people who come to LIB how they feel about Coachella after attending… I usually just get a laugh or, “SO MUCH BETTER.” Sure, they aren’t the biggest stages and most famous artists you’ll ever see, but every year I walk away from LIB with a new perspective on life, people, mindfulness, everything. This festival will always have a special place in my heart and I’m proud to have just come back from what was an amazing third year. It’s also pretty nice to be able to bring your own cooler to the stages, just sayin’. Giving huge props and thanks to The Do Lab—yep, I’ll be back next year!

  8. This was my first camping festival and it was amazing. I didn’t get to see bash at speak but im looking forward to catching clips of it on you tube. After a DMT trip on the last day I definitely felt like aliens were present at this festival. It was such an amazing experience I cannot sum it up with words. Everyone must go to a transformational festival once in their life!

  9. love this review. so much love for The Do Lab. yes, the hills were intense, but the community, music, and positive energy outweighed the struggle of the heat and the hills. LiB is truly a transformational experience, I feel like left a better version of myself, my body hurts in all the good ways, the music and bass is still pumping through my body, and I’m already daydreaming of next year. THANK YOU DO LAB I LOVE YOU!

  10. best festival in california if not the u.s. Not judging by stage production or lineup (EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE BOTH REALLY GOOD) but the vibe is what sets this place apart from places like coachella and edc. if you havent gone to lib you need to plan on it, it is a life changing festival and i feel like if enough people went then the world could change for the better.

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