Photos: Lightning In A Bottle Is The Most Fun You’ll Have Outside Of A Hippie Commune
Even though the Lightning in a Bottle (LiB) fest heads may have faced some challenges over Memorial Day weekend—including a brand new, sprawling event space out in Central California and temperatures hitting up to 100—they still managed to throw a top-notch and well-oiled festival experience. And by experience, it was more than a music festival and something more along the lines of a stellar Coachella-meets-Burning-Man resort.
The Do LaB folks who produced the event that took place from May 22 to 26, moved their roots from SoCal to a Chumash reservation out at Lake San Antonio in Bradley, about 240 miles north of Los Angeles. Last year's was held out in Temecula, but due to some issues with music curfews with residents in the area and an undercover drug bust from a Riverside-county task force, they decided to move it to a more remote location—and one more central to both San Franciscans and Angelenos.
What sets LiB apart from some other festivals is that it just isn't about the music (although the lineup of acts was pretty sweet with Moby, Phantogram, Little Dragon, Gramatik and Amon Tobin at the helm); it's more about a whole spiritual and transformative experience. And if that sounds hippie dippy, well, it is. When you go to LiB, you can't help but jump head first into it.
LiB's event made you feel like you were in a place far away from Los Angeles. Fashion wasn't a major issue and we're pretty sure many didn't even bother to shower (as it was also a huge camping event). People looked at each other in the eyes and greeted each other. They also helped pick up trash and sort garbage into recycling, compost and landfill bins. Even all the plates and cups served at the festival at the food vendor booths were compostable. (One food vendor used reusable dishes and offered a free meal if someone traded their dish-washing skills for it.) It was surprising to see everyone pitch in and not see a whole festival grounds littered by the end with a sea of crushed, plastic water bottles.
And the activities scheduled at LiB were enough to keep everyone busy. Two different yoga stages sat on different ends of the expansive reservation, and classes were offered all day long, from your run-of-the-mill yoga courses to some fun ones that transformed into a dance party or acted as an outlet for you to scream out your feelings. One L.A.-based instructor, Tony Giuliano, taught a class with musician East Forest playing a live set of his ethereal tunes. Near one of the yoga tents was an area where folks got to lay down and become immersed in a sound bath of gongs and chimes. And meditations and mantra chants were led by instructors throughout the event.
As for the food, if you were looking for anything other than what's in a pescatarian diet, then you would be out of luck at LiB. Everything was mostly vegan or vegetarian (and organic or GMO-free), with some seafood sold at some spots. The dishes were tasty though with pizza and breakfast burrito options, and lots of raw food choices from Lydia's Organic (the folks who make the delicious kale chips you'll find at stores like Whole Foods) like a nori wrap filled with a nut-and-seed pâté. There wasn't any sort of preachy message with the vendors on being vegetarian, but more of a "Look, we make delicious food, too." We did see one confused attendee asking a vendor for a dish with protein (which he meant meat) and after the vendor told him that his vegan dish had much more protein that you would find in a meat dish, the dude was still confused and asked again if he served protein.
Another fun part of the festival were the number of guest speakers they had at the event that spoke on topics from self improvement to holistic dentistry and social issues. Chad Hurley, YouTube founder (and childhood friends with the Fleming brothers of the Do LaB) answered questions about his path to his success and his beef with Vevo. Moby spoke on music therapy and even offered to read the thesis a woman in the crowd wrote. (It got that cozy.) Some of the talks could have benefited from a prepared speech or a little more organization than just a straight Q&A with the audiences, but hey, maybe that's just the free-flowing nature of LiB.
There were also classes on archery, how to make seitan and beer, and tantric lap dance classes. In one particular session, folks had to stare at a stranger in the eyes for 10 seconds to give their partner an eye orgasm. There were also free-loving activities like hugging a stranger for at least eight seconds, so they could really feel it.
What was most surprising was how much of a family-friendly event this was. Families had separate campgrounds away from all the noise (which you would hear beats thumping way into the crack of dawn). We saw babies dancing at Lee Burridge's three-hour DJ set, where he performed inside of a DJ booth built into a tree. Kids could take workshops from breakdancing to DJing and yoga classes (which we wish we could've taken ourselves.) Some looked like feral children running around (future LiBers or Burners, for sure), while others donned headphones protecting their tender ear drums.
One thing you didn't see at this year's LiB were any headdresses that you would normally see at other festivals (like Coachella). (Well, we did spot one or two, but they really stuck out like a sore thumb). Since the festival was held on a Native American reservation, the folks at LiB made sure their attendees would be respectful of the culture. In their event packet handed out at the fest, they wrote: "If a Native person sees you in that headdress, will you feel awkward?"
Walking up and down ravines and dirt paths, with dust getting kicked up by the wind and folks dancing up a storm, LiB was a journey unto itself. Sure, getting to the campgrounds from the parking lots could have been handled better logistically, but we imagine they'll fix the kinks in the future since this was their first time at this location. We can't wait for next year's event; we're excited to see what the Do LaB folks have up their sleeves.