The month of April ending means a lot to a lot of people, but the most important thing it signifies to the world of festivals is that another two weekends of Coachella are now in the history books. Sure they may be a few stragglers still posting pics from their awesome weekend(s) paired with some more people using mockery to hide their envy of not being able to go, but for the most part the internet has eight months until everyone loves, hates, and otherwise has an opinion about the 2017 lineup.
With Coachella out of the way and the month of May being upon us, attention is being turned to the summer festival season and everything that comes with that time of year. The first festival up on most people’s summer list is undoubtedly Lightning In A Bottle.
Returning once again to the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA, this LIB will surely be one for the record books. Here’s a few reasons why.
1. The Lineup
One common conception about the difference between the festivals like Coachella (Massives) and festivals like Lightning In A Bottle (Mindfulness Festivals) is that the massives trade intimacy for a more impactful lineup. In most cases this is true considering massives have headliners like Calvin Harris who makes anywhere from 250k to 400k per gig. The cool thing about Lightning in a Bottle though is that because it is the flagship festival of the veteran promotion company Do Lab, a great lineup is synonymous with LIB. Not only has Do Lab been holding LIB for several years, but they’ve been partnering with festivals from both ends of spectrum. They have their own (ridiculously dope) stage at Coachella, and were integral in helping advance Symbiosis. Through all this time and all these connections, Do Lab is able to bless the more intimate vibes of LIB with an utterly stellar group of musicians who look forward to playing there.
2. The Grand Artique
Another thing that really separates Lightning in a Bottle from other festivals comes from the involvement of the Grand Artique. Once again taking the form of Frontier Village, the Artique represents just how much fun the people behind LIB like having. While many mindfulness festivals including LIB have an assortment of both music stages and workshop tents, the Grand Artique is what happens when you smash those two types of structures together. There are live bands playing throughout the day and night, but there are also demonstrations that can’t be described in any way other than shenanigans. Last year they had an interpretative dance party; a human sized puppet show (thats the best way I can describe it); and best of all, nothing throughout all of LIB stays open later than the Artique. It’ll be 5am and you’ll still see a few people sprawled out in the dirt while members of a bluegrass jam band sing their hearts out.
The Artique may be the most after-hours activity, that doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Unfortunately every festival I’ve ever been to in California forces MainStage music to end at 2am, but those remaining 4 hours of activity allows for a different side of LIB to flourish. While some still flock to Lighting for the intimacy and the community, there is no denying the increased amount of attention the festival has gained in the past three years. That being said, the after-hours offer a look back into what LIB was in the earlier years. You’ll hear lesser-known but very talented DJs spinning house and bass music at the Favela and Pagoda respectively. You’ll hear/see a bunch of things you’ve never seen/heard before at the Artique. But the most important thing about after-hours are the people. See, the hours when the sun’s up are the hours for which people are always awake. It’s the wee hours of the morning that most people rarely get to see, and when you rarely get to see most people. If you thought festivals attracted weird people before, try staying up all night at LIB.
El Niño might not have been half as bad as anyone expected, but that didn’t stop California from getting way more rain than usual this winter, and lucky for the San Antonio Recreation Area, northern California got dumped on way harder than us southerners. While the Polo Grounds might have a new crop of grass ready to be trampled every year for Coachella and Stagecoach, other festival venues are at the mercy of the elements when it comes to landscape. Well the elements were quite kind to LIB this year and returning attendees can expect quite a bit more green to look at.
5. The Woogie
Every festival has that thing. That thing that defines the festival. That thing that embodies the values the festival wishes to instill in all of its attendees as well as the world as a whole. Granted, what that thing is may change from person to person, but in my experience, LIB’s thing is the Woogie. Casting out the word “stage” from it’s title, the Woogie is where house and techno live at Lightning in a Bottle. While LIB is full of interesting and wonderful things just ready for anyone to delve into, all of those things tap into the energy that is birthed from the Woogie. Residing generally in the center of the festival and literally rooted to the ground (the DJ stands in a tree), the love, happiness, and camaraderie that results from the numerous bodies gyrating together releases a vivacity into the air that infects anyway who comes within aural distance of the Woogie’s booming beats. Lightning in a Bottle is a great festival to come too. The Woogie is the reason people come back.