Let’s Talk About That Feeling: Lightning in a Bottle 2017 [EVENT REVIEW]

Photo: Haley Busch Photography
Photo: Haley Busch Photography

That feeling.

It’s that feeling that comes about when you walk into the festival grounds for the first time, lugging your camping gear across miles of dust and dirt, trying to find your new home for the next few days. It’s that feeling when you pop up your tent for the first time, lay your bed out, climb out after making your pseudo-home and look at the land surrounding you. It’s that feeling when you step onto the dance floor for the first time, letting the bass hit your body and adjusting your ears to the volume you’ll be immersed in for hours on end.

You know that feeling.

It’s rare that you can find a music festival that truly knows how to create an environment in which this feeling is so easily obtainable – but Lightning in a Bottle truly never ceases to amaze me. With every year it progresses, I’ve watched it grow and seen the experience evolve in the best ways. Every year I find myself sweating and panting hiking from the parking lot to the campsite, getting that feeling after a 30-minute trek with a cart of camping supplies for four people – no matter how many times I’ve visited those grounds – over and over again.

Photo: Haley Busch Photography

The festival, which happened over Memorial Day Weekend at San Antonio Lake just off the 101 in Bradley, CA, is put on by The Do LaB and brings thousands to a huge venue that offers the perfect mixture of music, yoga, art, talks and creative expression. I couldn’t even begin to try to describe all of the offerings available to attendees over the weekend – to put it simply, everything you needed to fulfill a weekend of adventure and exploration was at your fingertips. You just had to look.

The 2017 event brought a slew of completely new structures and stages to fruition to create one of the most impressive festivals I’ve seen production-wise from The Do LaB yet. With 10 new structures and 2 new stages, even the most seasoned LiB-goer was greeted with surprises. The colors of every piece, as intricately designed as they always are, were so bright and drawing that you’d find yourself wanting to explore everything. This year, another huge draw was the lake – filled for the first time in years, it was the ideal spot to hop in when you needed a break from the heat or wanted to float around with friends. Everywhere you looked, there was new art – from the smallest piece to the largest – that left you to ponder, to ask questions, to think. It was beautiful.

Photo: Haley Busch Photography

With the three main stages that LIB is so famous for – Lightning, Woogie and Thunder – there was no shortage of beats for listeners of genres across the board. Richie Hawtin, Christian Smith and Monolink knocked every expectation out of the water at the Woogie Stage with house & techno beats I vividly remember walking out of completely breathless. If house and techno wasn’t your vibe, you could catch Vallis Alps or Rufus Du Sol at the Lightning stage, or maybe Barclay Crenshaw or Sam Gelliatry at Thunder. As the night ended, you could head to one of the smaller stages, Favela or Pagoda, to close out the early hours of the morning until the sun started to make its way to the horizon.

Photo: Haley Busch Photography

I’ve been attending Lightning in a Bottle for years now, and it is truly a festival that only continues to improve. And it’s not just about bringing in the best headliners or the raddest art. It’s not about the vendors or their emphasis on pack it in, pack it out – though don’t get me wrong, each of these do play a significant role. It’s more than that.

It’s the bigger picture that The Do LaB so successfully creates.

It’s the “one vibe, one tribe” concept that so many people within those festival grounds shares- that everyone is there to love, to listen, to speak, to create – in whatever way they feel. That they have chosen to come together and do so, together.

It’s the people that gather to ultimately create that feeling of genuine bliss you get when you’re on the dance floor, stomping around in the dust surrounded by the people you’ve come so far with.

It’s the new friend that embraces you on your walk to catch that set you can’t miss because they thought you were a beautiful soul.

It’s the freedom of camping anywhere and everywhere, whether it’s beyond the Meditation Lookout at High Grounds or 100 feet from the Woogie Stage at Edgewater with a beautiful view of the water every morning.

It’s the passion of the Green Team, who work all weekend to leave the space as gorgeous as it was before we touched it.

It’s the beat of that Funktion One system that pulsates through your body in the middle of the night that follows you into your sleep.

It’s the creativity of every maker and doer that steps foot onto the grounds, bringing something to contribute.

It’s the community of people you immerse yourself in that continue to push you to be better, more creative, more expressive, more loving.

It’s that feeling.