Deep in the rich forestry of the Silverado hills and adjacent to the shimmering Irvine Lake, strange structures are being erected. Colorful, whimsical, and elaborately detailed structures which are resistant to the surrounding elements. These towers, temples, and terrestrial buildings are no stranger to this habitat, and this habitat is no stranger to these structures. Yes, as you might have guessed from the title of this article, it must be time for Lightning in a Bottle 2012.
Live entertainment has come a long way since the days of pushing around hoops with sticks while simultaneously dodging polio and communists. The disposable income wielding youth of today have a much higher bar of expectations from a live show since the days when four dudes playing instruments on a stage for a couple of hours was acceptable (looking at you, 90s). If I’m going to pay $200 to be entertained, something on my body had better be blown away. The Do Lab is known for creating elegantly elaborate (elagorate?) experiences by pulling attributes from virtually all facets of life. However, as we learned from Lucidity Festival, sometimes you just can’t prevent shit from going astray. Whether you made it to LIB for the entire weekend, snuck in for one night, or had no interest in going to begin with, let’s take a look at what goes into a multi-media freak-fest, shall we?
“This is not a hippie entrance! If you are a hippie, you cannot enter thought this gate.” A well dressed man sitting atop a lifeguard tower mocks over a bullhorn to confused fur and feather clad patrons walking by.
For starters, the art found at LIB is simply out of control. With live paintings going on literally every direction you turn, it’s no wonder muses become uninhibited throughout the festival. Watching an art piece progress over the weekend is nice, getting to bid on it and take it home at the end is better. Several art galleries are on site, displaying works from local and artists abroad, in addition to many pieces from artists attending the event. Sadly, the featured artist of LIB, Locust, was home sick with the flu, however, brilliant minds like John Park were present and in the zone. (See our John Park interview coming soon!)
“A couple of times a day I have people walk over to my painting and drop to their knees and cry… it starts to get annoying after awhile.” One live painter tell me.
Art installations are always a sight to see at the festival – especially when they are interactive, or even climbable. As if stages like Bamboo by Bamboo DNA and The Woogie by Vita Motus aren’t cool enough, brand new installations like the decadent Meditation Temple by Gregg Fleishman and Gamelatron by Aaron Kuffner really knocked it out of the park. These hidden gems undoubtedly add the extra to-do that makes this festival standout above others like it. There is something very dada about getting to know a piece of art by playing with it.
As one patron tells me before scaling an elevated hoop, “There is nothing like getting high and climbing on shit. And that’s why I’m here at LIB.”
The usual crowd of LIB denizens also enjoy a conscious lifestyle, which means healthy food of the organic and/or vegan variety. Even if you enjoy hearty helpings of meat, LIB has you covered with their eclectic diversity of food trucks and snack shops. There truly is something available for every type of diet, all at festival prices, of course.
“Holy shit, I am in hippie food heaven.” Remarked an adventurous foodie.
A self-aware lifestyle also usually entails the practice of yoga and meditation, both of which there are a number of classes held daily. Whether you are disciplined enough to get up for the sunrise meditation, or just want to enjoy the pleasures of Cheri Rae’s “Fuck Yeah Yoga”, the open mind is at home. The yoga-naïve are encouraged to ease into classes and veteran yogis can get a fresh perspective at one of the abstract classes.
“Drunk before noon… it’s an occupational hazard when you’re a LIB citizen.” Says a smiling Indian laying down in the grass with a feathered head dress in one hand and a bottle of Jim Bean in the other.
“It’s the story of my life.” Adds the Indian laying beside him.
Let me reiterate that there is something here for everyone in two words: Kids Village. It’s not a daycare, but a well thought out play area safe for children and their parents that includes arts and crafts as well as parenting workshops. Yes, they thought of everything.
Of course, for most, the main attraction is the music. Keeping with the LIB tradition, there is a little something for everybody. Let’s start with the temple. Perched high above the basin of “Lightning City”, the Lucent Temple of Consciousness is home to New Age vendors, sacred geometry structures, and several stages. While the set up is usually reserved for lectures and yoga, every evening from dusk to dawn a beautiful soundscape of sitars, violins, tribal drums, acoustic guitars and other world instruments fill the night sky for revelers. Talented guest performances are abound, such as SORNE, who summon sentient beings through their tribal beats, Fabian Alsultany, world infused exotic beat yogi, Imagika Om, beloved LA resident DJ, and headliners like DJ Laura, half of the bass heavy Lowriderz.
“What will you do about the nonstop break beats?” a distraught member of the press beseeches a candidate for Mayor of LIB in an electoral debate.
The Woogie Stage is no LIB freshman. The only stage to boast Funktion-1 sound, the wood and ribbon encased dance floor is often the best destination for those simply looking to boogie. Although every performer spoon fed the audience of debaucherous dancers exactly what they wanted, Android Cartel’s deft mixing and big beats were unquestionably the highlight of Friday night’s party. Saturday’s line-up was yet again great all around, although Jesse Rose and Alexi Delano rocked the house (tents) in the late hours of the evening. The Woogie Sunday sets were what all were anticipating, however, with music from sweethearts Pumpkin and Idiot Savant which kept the party bumpin’ and groovin’ late.
Further east is something of a second stage, the gorgeously crafted Bamboo Stage. With plenty of speaker stacks and rump-shaking room in front of the stage, production also graciously set up couches and floor level mattresses behind the stage for artists and their friends to get down or crash before/during/after shows. Friday was hot at Bamboo with mind (and ear) blowing performances from bass slinging trip-hop fiend Gramatik, the ridiculously hard feet stomping, jaw dropping beats of Minnesota (interview coming soon!) and of course the dubstep pioneer Nit Grit. Saturday was just as crazy as the talented LA local Sugarpill and acid crunk innovator An-Ten-Nae stole the show, among other greats. The finale on Sunday was oversaw by many more skillful sounds slingers such as sets from Sidecar Tommy and David Satori with Dirtwire from Beats Antique, DJ Laura’s aforementioned headlining set, and the up and coming dubstep aficionado Opio. Truly revolutionary music from gifted performers was experienced by anyone in the presence of this stage.
In between the main and second stage is the unmistakable multi-colored, upside-down mushroom cloud that is the Lumi Lounge. The smaller stage has shade and benches, making it the ideal destination during the sweltering day. From the afternoon until sunrise, an eclectic mix of live bands, DJs, classical instrumentalists, and MCs are doing their thang here, making it a chill place to stop and take 5, or 50, at any given time.
Lastly, the Lightning Stage. With its pillars of speakers leading up to the elevated platform, it can be at times unbearably loud. During Bassnectar’s performance on Sunday, every car alarm for miles around was set off from his opening track alone. The size of the stage made it easy for production to wheel in detailed or large stage designs like EOTO’s giant lotus or The Glitch Mob’s DJ booth alters. Just about every performance held on the Lightning stage was a heavy hitting powerhouse smash. Friday saw the multi-instrumental, beat boxing, angelic lyricist and song writer Lynx, world instrumental innovator Aparat, the lesser known but very skilled Shpongle, and scene revolutionary, the legendary Tipper. Saturday was arguably the best line-up of performances with the back to back Janover and his lovely new vocalist, the seductive serpant belly dancing of Shimmy Sisters, Bluetech with Amazon Voice, the always entertaining puppet show Fou Fou Ha (See? Such variety!), the soon-to-be-a-household-name electronic dance music jam band EOTO, always wildly entertaining dance/pyrotechnic/aerial/theater/singing/beats of Lucent Dossier with Mirabai Devi, and the mother fucking consciously thugtacular Glitch Mob. As if all of that wasn’t enough (and trust me, everyone was exhausted by Sunday), the violin and bass stylings of Govinda, the well developed R/D, infamous world dance exotica from Random Rab, big bass from Big Gigantic, and the one and only Bassnectar closed off the evening by making everyone in attendance deaf.
Like a holistic Vegas, LIB is also the city that doesn’t sleep. Art galleries will be bumping drum and bass at 4 in the morning. Bands rock it out like its sun down when the sun is coming up. A personal favorite destination is the Jive Joint; the improve workshop put on by Supertall Paul Newman, whom you may have seen around LA. His show runs from 2 AM to sunrise and includes tricks, treats, tunes, and grilled cheese. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
LIB is the type of event where you can meet amazing individuals on a whim and whimsical individuals in a maze. Performers, artists, and scene celebrities wander the festival grounds freely, so you truly never know who you’ll bump into. When you combine that virtue with the type of spiritual, psychedelic abusing, other otherwise just plain insane people who attend these sorts of events, unless you are a hateful cunt, you can’t help but have a good time. Scratch that, I actually met some hateful cunts who thoroughly enjoyed themselves this weekend. If you haven yet, you absolutely need to attend a Lightning in a Bottle.
Patrons and critics were in agreement that Lightning was inexplicably more awesome this year than last, although no one could put their finger on why. Perhaps a good word to describe Lightning in a Bottle is “magic”. In the end, my companions and I were left with a lingering magical feeling; not dissimilar from banging the person you’ve had a crush on for years or snorting a fat line of ketamine. Everything seems to happen magically, is if it weren’t the highly meditated schedule of events and hard work of the good people at The Do Lab. My suspicions are laid to rest upon leaving the camp grounds and stumbling upon a sign – a literal piece of wood atop the Temple with words painted upon it which read, “Fuck you, it’s magic”. Well played, Lightning in a Bottle. Well played.
See more of our photos from LIB on our twitter @UVulgarSFiend