Lightning In A Bottle Festival 2016 [Review]

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the West Coast’s essential camping, arts, workshop, yoga, and music festival celebrated its 11th year with a first time, sold out Memorial Day Weekend at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradly, California.

It’s accomplice, event production company the Do LaB undoubtably lived up to their mantra “Create, Experience, Inspire”.  Their stage setups were nothing short of spectacular- the lights, graphics, and decor all complemented one another and set a professional yet jubilant tone to accompany the music. 

Photo by Connie Ha (Courtesy of The Confluence)

Photo by Connie Ha (Courtesy of The Confluence)

My first set of the weekend started off charmingly, curated by Sacha Robotti at the Woogie Stage. The rich, sonic quality of his own productions as well as the tracks he projects are basis for a proper party vibe. He dropped Joeski’s “Come On” and attendees were bursting with mirth anticipating the oncoming weekend but the track that set the mood for Lightning In A Bottle was Claude VonStroke’s “Who’s Afraid Of Detroit?” To my delight, I didn’t have to wait long to hear mister Robotti again- this time his Dirty Bird vibes were heard in my stomping grounds at Goodroom in Brooklyn.

 As the sun began to retire, we relaxed at our campsite before the first official night of Lightning In A Bottle.  We were fortunate enough that the house & techno sounds of the Woogie Stage could be heard crystal clear from our campsite. Lane 8’s “Hot As You Want” soared over the rolling, desert hills as we collected ourselves and we headed to CloZee at the Thunder Stage. This was my favorite stage out of the trio of main stages, the Thunder Stage provided shelter from the blazing sun on both sides with pocket- like architectural features offering the ability to string a hammock for the ultimate lounge. French producer/ Dj CloZee played her remix of Tambour Battant’s “Drummer Boi” along with quite the concoction of bass, glitch-hop, and melodic trap vibrations all infused into her revitalizing set.

Photo by Eric Allen

Photo by Eric Allen (Courtesy of The Confluence)

A man who called himself Turtle gave myself and the sphere of hypnotized patrons an incredible poi show. As he graciously swung the tethered weights, a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns appeared as Mija’s genre- defying, bass immersed set rattled the Thunder stage. Her aesthetic gleams as equally as her tune selection. Check our her stunning, new record with Vindata titled “Better”.

They say the Dirty Bird catches the worm. Justin Jay’s early Saturday afternoon set unmistakably brought the groove to the Woogie Stage. His record titled “Rain Dance” set us off as its sonic bliss pulsated though the speakers and the neon piping entangled throughout the stage set the mood for a sublime celebration.

Photo by Juliana Bernstein

Photo by Juliana Bernstein

Fellow Brooklyn dweller Space Jesus brought his funky, bass music to the desert with his bootleg of “Arabian Nights” from Aladdin and “M Night Shambhala” as the crowd bobbed and grooved simultaneously.

Complete bliss showered over me as my absolute favorite Haywyre record titled “Do You Don’t You”  exploded from the Thunder Stage. Contemporary electronic, classical, and jazz pianist Haywyre played Blonde’s “All Cried Out” and his record “Everchanging” alongside a plethora of carefully curated records- all live on keyboard.

Photo by Jacob Avanzato

Photo by Jacob Avanzato (Courtesy of The Confluence)

LA based electronic rock band, performance ensemble, and entertainment company Lucent Dossier Experience has become a Lightning In A Bottle staple. Their performances combine riveting, authentic live music with interactive, cirque- style dance, aerial arts, and fire performance. A series of surreal moments unfolded when their unreleased song titled “Set Me Free” filled the air. All my senses were stimulated with their stunning visuals and awe inspiring live performance aspects, truly creating an experience. A must see, class act.

Photo by Juliana Bernstein

Photo by Juliana Bernstein

A singular disco ball spun in the wake of Jamie xx as he dished out tracks including the likes of Jan Driver’s “Rat Alert” along with his own “Gosh” and “Loud Places” featuring fellow xx member, Romy.  Mid set, a butt naked male darted past me in the crowd and ran through the moving bodies and onto the stage. As he attempted to tackle Jamie xx, security quickly removed him and the eclectic mixing of techno, bass, and disco continued seamlessly into the night.

Photo by Juliana Bernstein

Photo by Juliana Bernstein

Sunday afternoon we welcomed Jenaux’s song selection at the Pagoda Bar paired with divine whiskey drinks. Next, on the eve of the final day of Lightning In A Bottle, Dimond Saints took to the stage to share their revitalizing sound. Accompanying them on the Thunder Stage was a live set up consisting of a tuba, trombone, violin, drums, and  vocals by songstress Yaarrohs. They graced us with their own records such as a chilled out, bass infused remix of Lemon “Your Friends,” “Saints,” a rework of LAYLA’s “SmokeStacks,” and their remix of Lorde’s “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” which sounded marvelous with horn accompaniment. Dimond Saints ended their set with an unreleased song with Yaarrohs.

Photo by Jacob Avanzato

Photo by Jacob Avanzato (Courtesy of The Confluence)

EPROM. I have no words. This guy was playing some of the wildest shit i’ve heard in a minute. Definitely catching his set at SLAKE NYC August 19th…

Mr. Carmack was a delightful soundtrack as we ate delicious, spicy Thai noodles and wandered into the Archival Ink Gallery. Mind- blowing, thought provoking psychedelic art inhabited the walls of the pop up art exhibit. We discovered a karaoke session commencing under the bridge in the gorge as we crawled back to our campsite.

Photo by Andrew Jorgensen

Photo by Andrew Jorgensen

Luckily for my legs, Guy Gerber’s set could be heard pristinely from the tent and I enjoyed every second of it horizontally but hands down the best spot to reach an optimal zen state was the Meditation Lookout – LIB’s premier, safe haven conveniently located next to our campsite. The breezy tree covered,  cushioned hilltop overlooking the entire festival was a serene spot to relax and recharge in the California desert.

My concluding thoughts:

Lightning In A Bottle had all types of seminars and ritualistic components that were meant to introduce us to a different state of being. To revive the notion that there is power in intentionally making and creating spaces for reflection and meditation to ignite personal and communal growth.

I live in Brooklyn and have attended many festivals but a transformational festival quite like Lightning In A Bottle has not yet one of them. Camping for four days in the desert, inhaling dust and dirt, climbing rugged terrain, and enduring extreme weather conditions all while dancing and letting my mind be exposed to all possibilities was extremely intense and demanding yet necessary. It was a humbling and introspective experience to get a taste of the values that Burner and alternative culture have forged and cherish.

Lightning In A Bottle encourages colorful ways of thinking, a focus on mind expansion, and changing the way you approach life. Living with intention.

Photo by by Jacob Avanzato

Photo by by Jacob Avanzato (Courtesy of The Confluence)

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Ashley Zucker

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