Though my first eight hours at Lightning in a Bottle were spent in an offsite parking lot waiting for wristbands with hundreds of other eager campers, the second I stepped foot on the Lake Skinner grounds I felt at home. The rest of the festival was so thoroughly planned that the long lines in the hot sun were easily forgotten. The Do LaB created a beautiful oasis for more than 15,000 campers each day. Every essential component necessary for providing the perfect festival was in place at Lightning in a Bottle, which was exemplified by the overwhelmingly positive vibes all weekend.
After wandering the grounds and connecting with friends Thursday night, I woke up Friday morning for a Vinyasa class taught by Gigi Snyder featuring a live set by The Human Experience. It was inviting to see such a large presence of yoga at LiB. There must have been a hundred people in the grass, posing harmoniously, flowing to the music with each breath. Its central location at the Temple of Consciousness along with its diverse schedule encouraged non-yogis like me to join a class or two.
The Black 22’s at the Bamboo Stage got my dancing feet ready for the rest of the weekend. It didn’t take long to hear a remix of Daft Punk’s, “Get Lucky”- they played the first of what seemed like fifty remixes that weekend.
My first time at the Woogie Stage was to see Joplin of The Pocket Underground play some house and disco funk. Ladies!!! Since 2006, The Pocket Underground has been in charge of creating the Woogie Stage, and this year they exceeded all expectations. The stage was a multi-colored tree house! Between the unique design and phenomenal music lineup, it was easily one of my favorite places to be all weekend.
Psychemagik was supposed to play after Joplin but there was a time slot mix-up and they never came on. That is one disco party I did not want to miss! Supposedly they played an unannounced late night set on Friday, so hopefully some of you caught their magik.
With Lake Skinner off limits and temperatures reaching 104 degrees, the minimal amount of shade provided little relief. Thankfully, hot and sweaty campers were able to cool off in the lilypad water zone.
Random Rab had an early 5pm set on the Lightning Stage, complete with an aerial performer, live drums, and a song with Ilya Goldberg on the mandolin. Then it was back to the Woogie Stage for a double dose of the two dirtiest birds I’ve ever seen in a tree. Christian Martin and Worthy of Dirtybird Records brought that exclusive “bass-driven funk” that cannot be replicated by other producers.
Emancipator and Worthy had the same time slot, but the grounds were small enough to catch both. Doug Appling has evolved from playing on a tapestry-covered card table to headlining Lightning in a Bottle with Ilya Goldberg and a full live band. His transformation into a successful musician has been amazing to observe as a fan, and the above and beyond production at LiB glorified their talent on the main stage.
The Lucent Dossier Experience was just that, an experience. Director and performer, Dream Rockwell, who is also a founder of The Do LaB, envisioned Lucent Dossier as “a vehicle of art and performance.” When reflecting on their set, friend and fan Elyse Beesting said, “It looked how the music sounded.” The last twenty minutes were captivating, when a giant metal lotus flower hung suspended from the ceiling, turning slowly while fire burned at its edges and a beautiful aerial artist danced in its center.
The Polish Ambassador rocked the Bamboo Stage, closing out the first night of music with one of the best sets at the festival. The World’s funkiest diplomat, who releases all of his music for free, threw down an eclectic set of hip-hop, funk, and the sweet sounds of Michael Jackson.
Unlike past years at Lightning in a Bottle, noise complaints from Temecula County led to all renegade stages being shut down. Thankfully, it wasn’t enforced until Saturday, so Friday night’s highlights included Kaminanda at The Buddha Lounge and Diva Danielle at Amori’s Casino. Since the music stopped at midnight, it meant no late-night secret sets or infamous Random Rab serenades at sunrise! Of course this was a shocking disappointment for both the artists and fans, but it seemed to spark an electric social atmosphere during the late hours of the night that I have not experienced at any other festival.
Although only acoustic music was allowed, LiB was a grown-up playground, with plenty to explore beyond music and dancing. For instance, you could get lost in the Altervision 3D Blacklight Experience, attend a hilarious round of Psychedelic Bingo, or rage with headphones at the Silent Frisco.
The Do LaB hosted an impressive mimosa meet and greet on Saturday morning for all of the media. While we relished in our champagne and OJ, The Herbert Bail Orchestra played an exclusive acoustic set, which sounded a bit like Mumford & Sons but happier and with more instruments. This LA-based orchestra who considers their music Western gypsy folk included two trumpets, a trombone, keys, drums, a bass, a guitar, a lead singer, banjo, an accordion, and a violin. Their Sunday set on the main stage was perfect for a sunny afternoon, and you can expect to see them on more lineups in the future.
The Do LaB’s intention to provide a diverse lineup of music, art, guest speakers, and workshops was obvious. Coming from the East coast, I am used to festivals where an emphasis is strictly placed on music. Lightning in a Bottle breaks the barrier by hosting brilliant human beings who want to teach and be taught. Festivals like LiB act as a vessel for open communication on subjects too taboo for the rest of society. The goal is that we will inspire each other and expand our creative consciousness by combining ideas and building upon one another. Being given the opportunity to listen to guest speakers like Michael Tellinger made me more than grateful to have an educational experience at a festival.
More melodic and less glitchy than usual, ESKMO led us into the sunset with his pots, pans, keys, and empty water bottles as instruments, followed by Thugfucker, whose minimal, disco, and house influences have recently been on our radar.
Kastle (LIVE) was a bit misleading, since it was just Barrett Richards with a keyboard, and by fear of missing my most anticipated set of the weekend, I only caught a few minutes before rushing over to the Lightning Stage for Nicolas Jaar.
The next hour and a half was pure bliss, my Happiness in a Bottle. The build-up of each song was divinely crisp and every two minutes I was gasping in bewilderment at his expert perfection.
Still on “Cloud 9” after Jarr’s “Love Potion #9,” GRiZ threw down for the last hour of music on Saturday night. In search of late-night entertainment, we got awfully silly at Psychedelic Bingo, where I was barely spared a slap in the face with a paintbrush of mustard, all because they mistook me yelling my name “BINKO” for a falsely acclaimed “BINGO!” Phew!
Haywyre, Gigamesh, and Tim Green pleased my auditory senses on Sunday before Pumpkin and his little acorns gathered at the Woogie Stage, where I was surrounded by the largest amount of smiling faces all weekend. I can’t help but think, “this is my happy place,” whenever I see Pumpkin, and although it wasn’t my ideal set, it was exactly where I wanted to be.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Ohio natives Papadosio, but it was a relieving change to hear a familiar jam band at a mostly electronic music festival. They were followed by a twenty-minute performance by the Gold Star Dance Company, who are seven mystifying belly dancers who coordinated a hypnotizing routine in between sets.
Even though heavy bass and dubstep are not my favorite genres, I found some dancing space in the back of the crowd and got down to PANTyRAiD. If I didn’t dance the balls off of my feet I would have been more upset about missing Acid Pauli, but Ooah and MartyParty who formed PANTyRAiD at Lightning in a Bottle in 2008 kept me enraptured to the point that I could not stop moving.
Despite a somewhat negative response by many attendees concerning the presence of undercover police officers and DEA agents, The Do LaB did the best they could to provide a safe and positive environment for the weekend. Lake Skinner is on government owned property, which grants Temecula County the ability to supply a police force. While many of the 60 arrests seem unjust and unlawful, it reminds us how important it is to USE YOUR HEAD and Rage Responsibly at events like Lightning in a Bottle that reach out to mainstream masses. Many of the people arrested appeared to be set-up and taken advantage of, which proves we live in a power-driven society that is highly motivated by money and control. Undoubtedly, The Do LaB was unaware of the extent of the police presence, and it would be wise to reconsider a different location for Lib in 2014. But after all of their exceeding efforts to provide us with free water, the greenest festival grounds in the country, art installations, mind-blowing music, and so much more, we should be grateful for the weekend of magic they created for us to experience.