Festival: Lightning In A Bottle


Pretty Lights- www.lightninginabottle.org

USD Radio had the great pleasure of covering the Lightning In A Bottle festival in Silverado, CA, over Memorial Day weekend, May 27th-30th.  This Do Lab production featured Pretty Lights, MiMOSA, Thievery Corporation, Beats Antique, yoga, workshops, art installations and infinitely more.

By: Chuck Cartwright

The Do Lab laid the vibe on thick.  Or maybe it was the over twelve thousand people who came out from all corners of society to partake in the festival of life and love.  One could never be sure how many countries or cultures were represented at Lightning In A Bottle, but the world town was indeed out in full force to experience the amazing.

Lightning In A Bottle was the festival incarnation of the infamous LA based Do Lab collective.  You may be familiar with The Do Lab from their perennial hydro-infused, dub step fueled oasis at Coachella (USD Radio spoke with cofounder Jesse Flemming prior to the festival). However  Lighting In A Bottle was nothing like Coachella.

The event took place only an hour and a half away from San Diego; not far from the suburban strip mall wasteland of Tustin, but far enough to be safely within the confines of the Oak Valley Ranch.  Festival goers were transported from their cars to the campgrounds in a innovative hay truck valet.

The camping wasn’t divided into meticulously marked parcels, in a neat grid.  It was a land grab reminiscent of the 1849 gold rush, with a tent city hippie slum paradise created in merely hours.  Large sprawling makeshift compounds and small individual tents were arranged in a spontaneous hodgepodge of mayhem.  After attendees settled in, it was straight to the festival.

No airport-like security, no brash security guards wearing visually abrasive yellow shirts–in fact there were none of the cumbersome regulations that have come to characterize most large-scale events in the U.S.  Folks were permitted to bring in cocktails, snacks, hoola hoops, stilts, bikes, or whatever else they pleased.  It was like our world of bureaucratic regulation and so-called safety precautions never even existed.

Though the whole festival was phenomenal and unlike anything else (it has been referred to as Burning Man’s younger/tamer So Cal cousin), a few artists’ sets stood out above the rest.

MiMoSA’s performance set the festival off on Friday night with his distinct blend of heavy bass dubstep peppered with classic hip hip verses.  The crowd was excited with fresh legs ready to dance, as MiMOSA was the first night’s headliner.  He dutifully orchestrated the whomping well into the wee hours.

Beats Antique was a huge surprise.  Choreographed free drums, and graceful belly dancing brought the world music to life.  Then things got weird when performance art troupe Lucient Dossier entered the equation with plush animal head masks and a meticulously practiced dance routine.  Overall the performance was an overwhelmingly captivating production, complimented by fantastic music.

USD Radio favorite, Pretty Lights didn’t disappoint.  Although lacking his performance drummer, the set impressed with a mix of old and new material complimented by an amazing LED light display.  Part way through his set, during an extended version of the classic “Finally Moving”, dew-like rain began to fall–the natural and artificial environments collided creating an unforgettable ambiance. He even debuted a new remix.

The festival brought together a menagerie of subcultures; vibrant costumes and nice people from every place imaginable.  There were art installations and performance art pieces galore, with amazing ambient lighting adding to the expertly crafted dreamlike environments.  The event never slept, as music played virtually 24/7 with booming variations of dubstep playing throughout the weekend.  It was like a hippie’s Ibiza–some sort of escapist utopia where no one held anyone else to any expectations.  There were people of all ages and backgrounds.  One didn’t have to be anyone, but one could also be anything they chose to be.  It was a refreshing freedom, removed from the hustle and bustle of southern California.  Once word from this year’s festival spreads, the event will only grow, as I’m sure everyone who attended this year will return.

Photo by Caesar Sebastian