Lightning in a Bottle 2012 was another triumph for The Do LaB and and the growth of the west coast bass music scene. It saw record attendance for the event, somewhere between 14 and 15,000 people, and brought us countless unforgettable performances.
LIB has something for everyone, the Bamboo Stage featuring the best dubstep, glitch and IDM producers, the Lightning (Main) Stage with big-name EDM acts, live bands and theatrical performances, the Woogie Stage bumping the best house music around, a few renegade stages and the Temple of Consciousness area up top for quiet meditation, yoga, workshops and relaxation.
The venue is beautiful, with views of a lake, mountains, foggy mornings and lots of trees. We forgot how nice it is to dance barefoot on GRASS!
The intention to make this more than a party, for the weekend to be a growing and learning experience for people, was clear but not imposed, and you could seek a wide variety of bodily, cerebral and spiritual experiences there.
There was live art everywhere you looked, over a hundred pieces, auctioned at the end for the Do Art Foundation charity for developing artists. Several large art galleries were set up and hosted late-night parties that became pulsing magnets for tireless art fiends; many were lost for hours.
The Lucent Temple of Consciousness, curated by Lucent Dossier‘s Dream Rockwell, transformed the usually peaceful temple area into a late-night dance party that delivered incredible sunrise sets and early-morning hangouts. Full of little nooks to chill in and thoughtfully designed spaces, this was a favorite zone where we spent a lot of time over the weekend taking in the subtle art of placement and beauty of nature. It was such good energy, you didn’t have to do anything there to feel it.
This year also saw the return of legendary sculptor and installation artist Shrine, who has been recovering from a serious car accident since October. A pioneer of the elaborate wooden shrine structures seen at many west coast events, Shrine built the temple Basura Sagrada at Burning Man in 2008 and has always been a big influence on The Do LaB.
Using recycled and junk materials in an inventive and unique way, he creates complex, beautiful structures that become spiritual sanctuaries. His work makes a lasting impression and has inspired many, it’s good to have him back in action! If you love his artwork too and would like to donate to a fund for his substantial medical expenses, see: Weloveshrine.blogspot.com/p/donate-now
What’s great about this festival is that its so local and intimate, you can find your friends at a show and get as close as you want, yet big enough to pack a punch and draw the best artists..
Kalya Scintilla was one of the stories of the fest, playing a rousing daytime set and a special sunrise set at the Lucent Temple that will be cherished by all that were there. The talented Australian producer is known for unique tribal dubstep with liquid bass, violin samples and irresistible drops, and delivered performances and new material that solidified him as one of the most interesting producers out there.
He clearly takes his role as a ceremonial and spiritual leader seriously, producing music infused with prayers, with joyful, dark and curious sounds. He engages the crowd with love, dancing while he DJs, and at one point stood away from the stage and welcomed the sun with us.
NiT GriT tore up the Bamboo Stage, bringing his electric stage presence and enthusiasm along with all his hits:
Tipper‘s return to LIB was the talk of the weekend, blowing away tons of new fans and whipping out a bunch of new material for the veterans. The end of his set even broke into Drum n’ Bass, and the show was a great cross-section of his dance material:
Big Gigantic never disappoints on a big stage, and they brought a burst of passion and soul to LIB:
Bassnectar was the biggest show, and he threw out a lot of different types of tracks and genres, mixing it up as always:
There were so many artists that blew us away, we can’t possibly mention them all! Plus all of the artists and talent not on the lineup, including the amazing vending there – it’s the best neotribal hippie marketplace on Earth, bring cash, get styly!
Lucent Dossier gave a powerful, one-of-a-kind performance on the main stage that left the crowd in awe. The troupe has been performing at LIB since the beginning, and they always prepare something special.
The dynamic voice and songs of Dream Rockwell, the incredible dancing and choreography of Anthony “Greenz” Scarano, Shakti Shannon and the rest of the talented cast, fire performance, and a mean live band playing dubstep and orchestral arrangements.. What more could you want?
As always, it was the random encounters that made the experience so special, costumed characters, highly cultivated performers, and carefully wrought artistic environments to revel in. The fact that this all happens less than an hour outside of LA is miraculous and refreshing! Everywhere you turned, there was something bizarre, something beautiful, something that drew you towards it..
Gramatik was impressive live, playing this guitar-powered electro track and his arsenal of instrumental hip hop bangers:
Russ Liquid‘s set was another highlight, as it was last year. Playing live trumpet over smooth and funky glitch hop beats, he put on a fun, high energy show. Govinda was also hot sauce, with stage and aerial dancers to accent his sultry, ethnic dance music.
We love The Glitch Mob, both their music and what they have done for EDM. Their show on the main stage came off like an electronic rock concert more than a DJ set by design, each of them engaged in drumming or some kind of live sample manipulation at points. Possibly because of this format, possibly because a lot of their newest material is more compositional, even cinematic, than built-for-the-floor bangers, the show was less of a rager than it could have been.
Many people feel they excel as individuals live; Ooah and EdIT have massive solo careers. If they’d spun Boreta‘s set from Burning Man last year for that huge crowd, there would have been a near riot, but we still got down, don’t get me wrong..
Shpongle wasn’t the best we’ve seen Simon play either, though again he’s one of our favorite artists that we hold to a very high standard. He mixed in a lot of Hallucinogen, which made for a deep and twisted, introspective journey at first. Perhaps feeling he was losing the crowd, he transitioned quickly into upbeat world music like flipping on a Cuban radio station in the middle of a psytrance set; the result wasn’t as smooth or authentic as his individual tracks. Still a fun mindtrip, it was many people’s first expedition into Shpongolia, which is an important place to visit!
“I don’t dance, I WOOGIE.” While I LOVE getting down to dubby sacred crunk glitch hop IDM, I do have a sweet spot for dirty 4/4 house beats. After months of dancing to nonstop whompy bass, my ears were consistently drawn to the eclectic mix of deep house at LIB’s Woogie Stage; where sixteen Funktion One sound systems ensured that the bassline was still explicit.
The Pocket Underground has been a group we’ve been following for quite some time, more recently in depth since a handful of us just made the move West. Since the birth of the Woogie Stage in 2006, Pocket Underground has been bringing their pocket soundsystem and tasty house music to LIB. Without knowing much about the Woogie Stage or the names of artists listed on the schedule, Dirtybird masterminds Justin Martin and J. Phlip, and a personal favorite, Pumpkin, were enough to catch my attention.
Once we got to the festival and set up camp within a few feet from the Woogie Stage, my ears quickly gravitated toward the intimate stage, and we continued to drop dance moves there throughout the weekend. Aside from the all-star lineup, the Woogie Stage provided extra good loving vibes that kept us craving the pocket of dance space directly in front of the stage. A few highlights of the weekend included Justin Martin, Lee Burridge, Android Cartel, Alexi Dolan, and Nate Warren.
Anxiously awaiting Pumpkin’s sundown set on Sunday, our crew camped out under the minimal shade provided to the right of the stage, with a cooler full of delicious boozins. We were delighted to hear the sexy beats of LA-based DJ Jeremy Sole. He took the crowd on a journey around the world that kept us on our toes and feelin’ good, feelin’ great, just in time for Pumpkin.
Pumpkin put a beautiful finishing touch on a magical weekend. I had been waiting for his set for months and told everyone we encountered throughout the weekend to be there. He did not disappoint. From the second he got on stage, his heart glasses and infectious smile stamped a permanent ear-to-ear grin on my face that still has not gone away.
After a quick, blissful embrace and a cheering of our pink heart champagne glasses, my friends and I exploded with danceable joy as Pumpkin opened with a Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” sample into a remix of “Good Day” by Nappy Roots with EVeryman killin’ it on the mic. As if it couldn’t get any better, he dropped a Trentemoller remix of The Do’s “Too Insistent” and then a remix of one of my all time favorite songs by my all time favorite artist: “Sweet Jane” by Velvet Underground. Using his exceptional mixing skills, Pumpkin kept the crowd moving, groovin, and loving life all while continuing to have fun himself on stage.
The lovely Megan Michelle hooping:
Thriftworks is a new favorite of ours, and it’s a LIB tradition to bring in hot new downtempo beatmakers during the day on the Bamboo Stage. Last year it was The Great Mundane, this year it was Thriftworks. He played a bunch of stuff from his free debut Rainmaker, which comes highly recommended, as well as some new stuff like the joint in this video that just came out on soundcloud, “Daydream”. One of the best parts of LIB is the dancing in the crowd, there’s an unmatched collection of professional-level dancers gettin’ wild all around you:
The sunrise sets up top at the Lucent Temple of Consciousness were some of the most memorable moments, intimate performances where friends would reunite after a wild night.
Imagika Om, Kalya Scintilla, and The Lucent Dossier Orchestra > DJ Laura > El Papa Chango did the honors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively, and it was one of the most beautiful atmospheres we’ve ever been in, between the music, the people, the temple, and the natural setting.
DJ Laura played some minimal house to close out the last night that was just right:
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It was interesting to share the moment with people that had seen the gradual evolution of the festival from a small party to a rave to the diverse music and arts festival it has become today, as well as those discovering this community for the first time.
As it has grown, it has attracted some epic lineups, including this year’s, as well as tons of visual artists, dancers and talent of all kinds. With fame comes attention from all types of people, and a natural dilution of the original formula. There was a LOT more garbage everywhere compared to last year, reflecting a less experienced crowd. It is still an incredible destination and one of our favorite festivals in the world, but we sense the rapid growth has reached a threshold where continuing at this rate will potentially detract from that.
Hopefully it will hold at this size and The Do LaB will keep focusing on quality, not quantity, and continue to deliver a pure and intimate experience. The venue can’t hold many more anyway, but that’s what we thought about Camp Bisco and they razed a forest to expand it to unmanageable proportions..
Priding themselves on being the “Greenest Festival in America”, The Do LaB has made a lot of efforts to make the event sustainable and have as little impact on the land and environment as possible, including using solar power, biodiesel generators, properly sorting the tons of recyclables and waste, and organizing mass transportation for attendees. As the festival grows however, this becomes harder and harder, and the organizers can only do so much. It is up to individuals to do things like clean up after themselves and dispose of their garbage properly. There is an excited new generation joining our ranks that needs to be educated on raging responsibly for both the body and environment.
We must each be stewards of the scene and protect and care for our extended family. LIB is a key gateway festival for the west coast that we need to preserve and regulate as a community. This scene is growing fast and its up to those who love it to help bring in new people the right way.
Thank you so much to The Do LaB and everyone who made this event possible. It was so many different events in one, a place where one could find a variety of enlightening experiences and connect with others looking for the same things.
These opportunities are so rare and special, we are glad to have shared it with all of you!
To find out more about what it takes to make this event happen, check out our Audio Interview with The Do LaB
Get involved at: Lightninginabottle.org
Photo Credits: Kyle Rober, Eric Ford and Josh Choma