Community. Music. Family. Connection. Energy. Art. These things and so much more can be found amongst the dusty lakeside grounds at Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival. Every year I return to this magical place, I am truly at a loss for words as to what I should say to pay the proper amount of respect. To simply label it a music festival is a falsehood. Lightning in a Bottle not only hosts some of the most diverse and best musical acts around, it also hosts things that are so rare to find in this chaotic world of ours.
As you walk into the grounds with a schedule in hand, you end up finding yourself immersed in a microclimate of people who gather in one place for a million different reasons. Each year The Do Lab adds more and more to the spectacular lineup of festivities across the hilly grounds. Every nook and cranny within the hillsides have beauty found in them. One minute you’re at the colorful Woogie stage getting lost in the never-ending house music, then stumble upon the annual Downhill Derby race, to wandering over into a quiet little art installation nestled in the trees reading inspiring messages people have written all over the blank walls.
The daytime brings sunbeams and exploration, gravitating people towards things they may have ever expected to be a part of. The Beacon is a space for intellectual talks and lectures educating people on progressive ideas regarding sustainability, race relations, native cultures, and more. The Learning Kitchen is where home economics gets a total makeover. You’re able to witness people turn food into things you may have never even knew existed. Need to stretch out those muscles from dancing to tech house at the Favela Bar all night? Head over to one of the many yoga classes and sound healings to replenish you for the next day of activities.
Friday made for an epic day of non-stop music. The weekend started off with a bang at the Woogie as Dirtybird mainstays Walker & Royce and Will Clarke took everyone on a wild ride. Techno legends MK, Purple Disco Machine, and The Black Madonna closed down it down while Sofi Tukker, Griz, and legendary Glitch Mob were over at the Lightning Stage showing how they do the damn thing.
Saturday brought the bass with Bleep Bloop, Zeke Beats, and Mad Zach at the Thunder, while Monolink, Tokimonsta, and Anderson Paak excited fans with a flow of diverse sounds at Lightning. Back at the Woogie, Nicole Moudaber played one of the best sets of the weekend with her dark and enticing techno.
The last day of the festival means giving it all you’ve got. The Woogie cooled off with some uplifting beats from Oona Dahl, YokoO, and Rodriguez Jr. The California Honeydrops returned to the Grand Artique once again to anxious fans who were awaiting their annual Sunday set. But the true shining star of Sunday was none other than Zhu. I can not rave enough about what I witnessed at the Lightning stage this night. A phenomenal mix of his hit songs blasted through the speakers as he sang them all with ease all while dropping some of the dirtiest beats on top of live instrumentals.
Not ready to go to bed after the main stage action stops? Not to worry. As the main stages close at 2 am, the Favela Bar, Pagota, and Grand Artique pop off until 4 am. Offering completely different styles at each, the options are endless for you to stay up all night with the new friends you probably made throughout the day.
A side note from the main attractions that really enhanced my experience was the Do Lab team. Working a massive 5-day event is no easy task and they made every attendee feel at ease with their visible passion to make this an amazing experience for everyone. Start to finish, every person I came across within the food vendors, traffic coordinators, green team, security, and standby firefighters were dancing with a smile on their face as they worked.
You can live a million lifetimes while you’re at Lightning in a Bottle. There is so much you can harness within yourself while you are here and the experience is truly one of a kind. To describe a community filled with so much magic is hard to express other than to say you have to see it for yourself. Finding a place like this in a world that appears to be so dark brings new life in you. It replenishes your soul with enough love and connection you never knew you needed. You get addicted to the feeling and I can’t thank Lightning in a Bottle enough for curating a space that lets that flourish. Until next year.