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.
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.