(Co-written with Bret Jacobson)
Lightning in a Bottle, god damn god damn. We don’t even know how to begin to do this amazing festival justice in our coverage this year. Our hats go off to The Do Lab for managing to bring together 20,000 individuals, from over 40 countries to the San Antonio Reservoir for some seriously wonderful times. In this article, we hope to give you a sense of just what LIB is all about, as well as our share our top seven performances of the weekend, and some of the best parts of our four day journey. So put on your fuzzy hats, bassheads; were going on an adventure.
Lightning in a bottle has been hosted in quite a few different locations since it’s inception in the early 2000’s, and this was the second year at the present location. Set against the beautiful backdrop of central California’s rolling hills, this place definitely felt like home to us.
The San Antonio Reservoir & Recreation Area is a massive piece of California landscape, located right in the middle of Los Angeles and San Francisco; the perfect place to bring both scenes together. The festival grounds themselves are located on the side of a dried up lakebed made up of of peninsulas and small dry gullys where water used to flow. This ends up creating an aesthetically pleasing landscape that will most definitely give your legs a nice workout, but not nearly as much a workout as last year. That’s because this year, The Do Lab was able to install bridges in the high traffic areas between the stages, saving your legs while saving you time in your adventures around the festival.The Do Lab also installed a bunch more colorful & weird shade structures that became absolutely crucial during the heat of the day. The whole festival in general was way more centralized this year; allowing you to pack more things into your day, and with so many amazing things to see and do, we were very stoked on this new layout. They were also somehow able to allow 1/3 more people to camp there this year, making for a more condensed (yet still impressively large) campground filled with all sorts of lovely people and a myriad of epic sound camps that kept things going long after the music on the main stages was over. A special shoutout to the Hedtron, Humboldt, Vital, & Wapa camps for your hospitality and fantastically good music!
One of the things that sets LIB apart from other festivals is the caliber of people it brings together from all over the globe. Although oceans might separate us, we are all drawn together at one place to share our art, music, and love with one another. LIB allows you to express yourself almost anyway you please, and this is reflected in the wonderfully bizarre and colorful outfits & artwork of the beautiful people who graced the landscape over memorial day weekend. This is a place of creativity, love, and oneness that inspires you to be the best possible version of yourself, all while partying your ass off. This is a transformational festival at its finest.
Lightning in a Bottle has won greenest festival in the United States 5 years in a row, and is very very proud of that. LIB was one of the nine festivals to win the highest award of outstanding green festivals last year and was ranked greenest festival in the US yet again by A Greener Festival. Maintaining this title is a huge focus for them, even though they sold out this year. After the music ends at night they play a clean up song and people actually start cleaning up any trash around them.
Every trash station has a green team volunteer who helped you decide what is going to the landfill, what is recyclable, and what is compostable. They would literally rip things apart to make sure everything possible was recycled and composted. Major shout out to everyone on the green team, people like you help make LIB an amazing experience. It should be noted here that many previous LIB attendees commented on the amount of trash they saw at this festival compared to previous ones, as well as the amount of graffiti. So we want to stress here how important it is to pick up your trash, and respect your festival environment; at the next LIB or whatever festival you happen to attend in the future.
Now then, on the festival proper. Lightning in a Bottle literally had something for everyone to enjoy. Trap, House, Folk, Hip Hop, you name it. Pick a genre and you could probably find it at lightning in a bottle. There were five official stages, of music on the festival grounds alongside an untold number of other set ups big and small hosting healing sessions, games, fortune telling tea gardens, circus acts, yoga, and some of the most epic food I’ve had at a festival to date. Shout out to the Sushirittos and the Poutine Truck, until we meet again my loves.
Below you will find our favorite performances of the weekend, each was fantastic in it’s own way, but we finally wrestled them into order, enjoy.
#7 Trevor Kelly
If you’ve been following our california festival adventures you know that we are huge fans of Trevor Kelly. Just a week ago we saw him absolutely crush Emissions Festival on the first day. If his set was the same as last weekends, I wouldn’t be mentioning it here, no matter how good it was. The thing is, every time we see Trevor, he’s always got something new in store for us. Trevor Kelly is the kind of guy to be backstage on Ableton tightening up a new track just 3 minutes before his set, and it shows. He never fails to bust out a myriad of new tracks we’ve never heard before. All of which consistently blow us away with their incredible crowd rocking basslines. Some of our favorite tracks from this set were off his upcoming Ep with Shlump; coming out soon on his new label Shadowtrix Music. If you love west coast bass music, this is one artist you cannot miss.
At number six, we have the original panty dropper from down under; the one, the only, Flume. His midnight set on Saturday reminded us all exactly why we fell in love with his sound in the first place. Track after glorious track squeezed & caressed the crowd with such beauty & emotion that we never wanted it to end. In the words of one festival goer “I just want to like, wrap myself in it, and stay here forever.” The thing that stood out the most to us was just how many anthems this Australian badman has created. Almost every song he played was echoed by the crowd with an intensity that succeeded in bringing tears to our eyes as we watched his set from below the Faris Wheel. This is timeless music at it’s finest.
Next up on our list is the beloved stoner rockstar from Detroit, Griz. Known for his marvelously groovy beats and outstandingly sexy saxophone skills, Griz has earned a reputation for rocking the party like nobody else around, and his set at lightning was a testament to just that. Seeing Griz bust out the sax is something every music fan needs to experience, even if your aren’t a fan of EDM. Griz had everyone getting down in the funkiest sense of the word and we love him so very much for that.
Coming in at #4 are two more guys from Australia by the name of Hermitude. I had never heard of these guys until I was hurriedly dragged over to their set when I informed my friends how oblivious I was to their awesomeness. These guys threw the f*ck down, with sound I had only gotten hints of from Flume’s style of songwriting. Hermitude is like a weirder, wilder, more thugged out version of Flume. While Flume makes panty droppers, Hermitude makes party music. Even though they have amazing digital releases, Hermitude’s “Trapical” style of bass music is something you really need to experience live to fully appreciate. Halfway through their set, both members of the group came out from behind the Dj booth to jam out live to one of their new songs with their drum machine & Keytar, to the delight and excitement of the energetic crowd. Be on the lookout for their new album this fall!
#3 G Jones
Number three on our list is responsible for the best trap music set we heard all weekend. Like Trevor Kelly, G Jones is one of our favorite bass music artists on the scene right now. Greg’s uniquely heavy & crispy sound has given birth to a myriad of trap music anthems over the past year and half, and landed him slots at almost every major festival this year. This recent rocketship ride to stardom has put him in touch with some of the most legendary names in bass music, resulting in incredible collabs and startlingly large jumps of improvement on his solo tracks. G Jones’s set at LIB was the most epic set of bass music I’ve experienced in years. I saw him at Emissions the week before and it was nothing compared to what we witnessed on Saturday. He had everybody talking about him the rest of the weekend. This is someone you can’t afford to sleep on if you love bass music.
#2 Shiba San
In second place we have the Dirtybird thugster Mr. Shiba San. What else can be said but Holy F*cking F*ck. I hadn’t danced that hard all festival. I mean we raged it all weekend, but Sunday night Shiba San had me dancing until my feet hurt and way way beyond. For those who don’t know about Shiba San and the Dirtybird Collective let me try to explain. It’s hard, dirty, sexual house music for sexy people of all shapes and sizes. In addition to Shiba, the Dirtybird crew consists of Justin Martin, J Phlip, Claude Von Stroke, Christian Martin, Kill Frenzy, and many more artists that are doing an incredible job of bringing the best house music available to EDM fans everywhere. We danced until we could barely stand, and then we danced some more. Dirtybird crew for life. Check out his full set from LIB below!
Finally, our favorite performance of the weekend was without a doubt, the Opiou Live Band. Recognized almost universally as one of the kings of Glitch Hop, this Australian madman has been producing some of the crunchiest & grooviest bass music of our time for over half a decade. This performance however, wasn’t just a DJ set. This time, for the first time in the US, Opiou bringing a full band to the stage. Keys, sax, and an amazingly powerful vocalist accompanied Opiou as he rocked the drumpad and a synthesizer packed with some of the dirtiest sounds I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear live. Their performance was pure unadulterated fun. Funk on a whole new futuristic level that had everyone jamming out with mile wide grins on their faces. What made this performance so great is that his bandmates weren’t just there for backup. Every performer on stage was just as point as the main man himself, each one taking turns soloing all over the wildly ecstatic crowd and somehow taking things to an even higher level of awesomeness. This explosive collaboration of talent was and incredibly powerful experience we could not get over all weekend long. They’re currently on tour in North America, don’t hesitate to grab tickets if they’re in your area. These are some seriously wild musicians.
As you might have gathered by now, we had a f*cking blast at Lightning in a Bottle. After spending almost all of Coachella at The Do Lab stage, our expectations for their festival was were very high, and we still came away incredibly satisfied. From the music, to art, to people, everything at LIB was just so much fun to experience. This was easily our favorite festival of the season so far. Our undying gratitude to The Confluence and The Do Lab for inviting us out to play and facilitating a fantastic press experience all weekend long. Special shoutouts to Eartharp, Goldrush, The Lucient Dossier Experience, & all of the beautiful staff members & festival goers we encountered this weekend; we can’t wait to party with you again.
Transformational festivals are starting to become the hot new thing to hit in the summer, and LIB is definitely leading the pack for west coast festivals of that nature. We can only hope that all these newcoming festival goers will be as amazed, inspired, and humbled as we were to be involved in such an amazing weekend.
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Photo cred: Julia Bernstein, Andre Schnyder