Words by: Kyle de la Calzada
Photos by: Dan Krauss & Juliana Bernstein
With numbers pressing around 20k attendees this year, LiB has come a long way from its humble beginnings at the turn of the century as a simple renegade out in the hills. Today, Lighting in A Bottle provides activities such as yoga seminars, meditation circles, and even a learning kitchen for a variety of different kind of meals. Every which way you looked, there was assuredly something interesting to do. And let’s not forget the musical attractions.
The Do LaB, the minds behind LiB, had musical entertainment delivered in aces. The 3 main stages, named Lightning, Thunder, and the Woogie respectively, all hosted world class musicians such as Flume, John Digweed, and Odesza. The services provided by LiB where an experience in themselves. There were vendors who offered free meals and those willing to volunteer time for an hour to organizations like Dance Safe, the Zendo Project, and the Plur Angels. And through successfully encouraging people to mind their trash and providing clearly visible waste disposal stations, often attended by lightning’s own green team to help sort landfill, compost, and recycling, Lightning in a Bottle definitely earns its title as the greenest festival in America.
Multiple art installations and pieces dotted the landscape either dazzling under the sunlight by day or glowing beneath the starlight at night. Down by The Woogie Stage, dozens of artists set up shop doing live murals, sketching, painting, or inking their hearts away to rhythmic tunes and the pitter patter of passerby’s. Sky scraping teapots bore hammocks and shade to tired festival goers. And a house built upon a truck bed wandered the grounds providing yet another dance floor for people to groove upon.
Several influential painters and builders made their mark in various areas themselves. Amongst one of the many food courts, architect Shrine On built an ornate temple with two gorgeous rams upon an ornate temple adorned with rows over rows of wind chimes made of recycled cans. Andrew “Android” Jones even had his own gallery set up with many of his works consisting of his own personal blend of biology and bionics culminating in wondrous cityscapes and intricate interpretations of living beings melded with circuity.
Lightning in a bottle boasts one of the friendliest crowds you could possibly ever come across. You could almost see the positivity permeating the air. In every direction was a smiling face and a hand willing to be of help. Strangers created bonds among other strangers and shared goods to those less prepared. Walking through bridges built by the Lightning team helped navigate the uneven festival grounds. It very quickly turned into a breeding ground to see smiling faces and essentially unending high five chains lining from end to end of the bridge’s entrances.
The good vibes continued to expand deep into the campgrounds, away from the festivals main attractions. Communities were formed between neighboring tents – providing an amazingly welcoming environment. If an attendee happened to have the bad fortune of bringing a faulty propane stove – you could feel confident that there was likely a neighbor willing to accommodate. If there was someone who may have been underdressed for the temperature drop when the sun went down – rest assured there was someone willing to offer a seat in their tent and a comfy blanket to have a moment to warm up.
With such great people all around, the scene was ripe for some excellent situations that would not have the steam to happen in other places. A single person bellowing a coyote howl at a setting sun could very well result in hundreds, possibly thousands of other howls from end to end of the camp ground. The people themselves were an amazingly colorful group. Boasting ticket sales from 40+ countries from all around the world, there was someone at Lightning from every walk of life present. It isn’t out of the question that the man painting a mural by the Thunder stage travelled all the way from Africa to be right there.
Music at LiB was top notch and each stage was a visual eye candy. In the DJ booth was an amazingly delightful treehouse that held such talent like Thomas Jack, John Digweed, and Shiba San. The Thunder stage – familiar to some as The Renegade from Coachella – was a homey enclosed winged structure spanning out of a wonderful dreamcatcher-esque centerpiece behind the stage. Acts on this stage included artists such as RL Grime, Gladkill, and Koan Sound. Memorable moments included Griz bring brass fire on Friday with his infamous saxophone accented beats and Lindsay Lowend delivering an impassionate speech for artists to never let themselves get defined by a single genre. Thunder definitely put out the vibe of a family affair in its tightknit community atmosphere.
The biggest treat was the centerpiece of the festival – The Lightning stage. Truly amazing DJ acts blessed the stage with out of this world sets from the mysterious SBTRKT and the elegantly indie ODESZA. Lucent Dossier provided an exhilarating blend between a musical performance and a contemporary circus act heavily involving giant artistic props, live fire, and visual narratives. William & the Earth Harp Collective even had their harp integrated into the very superstructure of the Lightning stage with William’s daughter making a guest appearance with a mind blowing aerial hammock routine. Literally every aspect of the main stage oozed creativity and superbly enticed every sense it could reach out to.
All that accompanied with the various talents of many other smaller named artists preforming on any of the official onsite bar/side stages and the unofficial talents preforming in their own respective camps provided a proverbial buffet of sounds to enjoy
Next LIB is from May 25th to 30th at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA