Lightning in a Bottle: A Festival of Life
Lightning in a Bottle: A Festival of Life
By: Mason Acevedo
With music festivals being the big “thing” right now, we begin to create a concrete image for our idea of a music festival. We imagine long brimmed hats, flower crowns, how many “party favors” we can consume in one night, and tons and tons of narcissistic Instagram photos. We imagine all the amazing artists we get to see live and the crazy quirky people we meet, but we hardly ever focus on the experience. We hardly ever focus on what we gain other than a blurry night under neon lights. Most of all, we never focus on what we actually learn. Lightning in a Bottle did not only give me one heck of a weekend but it gave me something to gain; it gave me something to bring home. From the beginning, Lightning in a Bottle wasn’t just a celebration of music. Lighting in a Bottle was a celebration of life. It celebrated the awesomeness of being human through the arts and the people surrounding us.
Lighting in a Bottle was held in Bradley, California from May 21-May 25. To put it bluntly, it was five days camping in the desert. The festival is a music, yoga, and arts festival, meaning there were many more attractions, including two yoga designated areas, immersive environments, art installations, burlesque shows, and even a learning kitchen (to name a few). However, what separates it from other festivals is that it has a specific set of core values. It is a “leave it better, leave it beautiful” festival, so they strive to make the smallest carbon footprint possible, meaning taking home your own trash, providing your own reusable water bottles, green education, less waste, respecting wildlife, etc. I must admit that their values are contagious because I found myself picking up trash wherever I saw it, and educating people who were being wasteful. I also have a lot more awareness for the environment and strive to do my part wherever I go.
But besides that, lets get to the exciting part: the actual experience—A personal journey so broad and intense I can only lay it out day-by-day:
Day 1: The Journey
It started with sweat and dust. Upon arrival we were required to carry our own stuff to our campsite, which is easier said than done. When we found our initial campsite and started setting up camp, we were instantly greeted by our neighbors (who were all LIB veterans). To one side was a group of friends who offered us their shade, and to our right: a father and his two sons. When one of his sons walked away to go explore the father gave him some of the best advice I’ve ever heard: “Be safe, boogie hard.” The rest of the day was dedicated to exploring and settling in. The party had just started and it went on all night until dawn.
Day 2: Friday
I started my day off bright and early at the Yoga Om tent. The class was titled “Brightside Yoga: A Tantric Morning,” taught by Kevin and Lara. It was amazing to see such a large group of people doing yoga in unison. It established a sort of peace and unity among the people. What struck me the most is what the teachers said to us during the class. One quote Lara said that caught my attention was her favorite Chinese proverb: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
The next class I attended was “Screaming Ecstasy” Yoga, taught by Gloria Baraquio. Sounds trippy, right? Exactly why I went. This ended up being one of my favorite events during the festival. In the class we screamed our names as loud as we could in front of the class, danced ecstatically, and had some really intimate moments with strangers. During a partner exercise she said aloud, “I think true love is finding your truth and finding someone who loves that truth.” I had the opportunity to interview Gloria after the class. “Lightning in a Bottle is like a rainbow,” she said. She explained how it contained so many “colors” and so many different spectrums of people and experiences. She described it as “a new world festival,” and that it is “good to be in a place of love.” When initially asked to teach the class she said she was “completely terrified,” but it was good to “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Gloria not only taught us to be at peace with ourselves but she taught us that in doing so, we “mirror” that towards other people. I took this advice and expanded it throughout the rest of my time in the festival, and it not only enhanced my festival experience, but it has since enhanced my life experience.
To cap off the day were the music artists, favorites of Friday being Yaarohs, Bakermat, and obviously Odesza. Yaarohs was amazing to see live. Her music was very dreamlike and her voice was very sincere. It contributed to a very soft but powerful performance that kept the crowd feeling the music but feeling at peace as well. Bakermat was a huge hit at the Woogie Stage. His deep house music mixed with some jazz and soul really got the crowd feeling the music and dancing outrageously. I really enjoy his style and the uniqueness he brings to his music by adding brass instruments. It adds to the sincerity of the music and makes it all the more enjoyable for the crowd. Odesza was probably my all time favorite of the weekend. I am a little biased, since they are my all-time favorite DJs (and I may or may not have pre-ordered their latest album) but you cannot beat the experience they bring to the crowd when they perform live! The combination of the lights in the background and the light, feel-good music makes for a great vibe, and creates an amazing experience for all of those watching the show. They played a new song of theirs at the end, which sounded (dare I say) a little “trappy”. The crowd seemed to love it but I am afraid they might strew away from their style and what makes their music unique.
Day 3: Saturday
Nothing beats homemade tamales made by your neighbor and listening to Poliça as the sun sets. Poliça, a Minneapolis native electro-pop band, swung in for my favorite act of the day. Their music is haunting yet endearing. The lead singer, Channy Leaneagh, has a strange presence on stage that is great to watch. It also doesn’t hurt to listen to some music that isn’t played through a mixing board. Another great act was Lucent Dossier Experience, which focused more on the visual experience. LIB is said to strive to be a visually appealing experience as well an auditory one. Lucent Dossier really helps them achieve this goal through acrobats performing with fire, hanging upside down, and even sometimes immersed in water.
Day 4: Sunday
The wonderful thing about LIB is that you do not just have to go to the music stages to be entertained, you can simply walk around and find countless things to do, things to see, and people to meet. I spent a portion of my day inside of an art installation which was an enormous teacup lifted up in the air by a ladder. The teacup filtered out with different people every 5 minutes or so, and we were able to meet many different people. As I left the teacup and said goodbye to my new friends, a woman grabbed my hand and said to me, “enjoy your life, enjoy your experiences.” She gave me a kiss on the cheek and I departed the installation. This moment really struck me. It made me realize the beauty of Lightning in a Bottle and the affect it has on our lives. It doesn’t just create, but it makes us realize the beauty it is to be human. It makes us see the beauty in our lives, our experiences, and the people around us. It makes us appreciate what we have and our opportunities. The lady in the teacup made me realize this, and it has stayed with me since then.
My favorite artists of Sunday were Snakehips, AlunaGeorge, and Tycho. Electronic music mixed with an R&B feel has been the hype lately, and Snakehips seems to be the master of this. His music is funky and it has a lot of feeling and soul. AlunaGeorge was also an amazing performance. Her stage presence is strong and it shows in her music. My favorite song she performed was “Your Drums, Your Love.” The song was smooth. Most of all, it was sexy. You could feel it in the crowd. Lastly, Tycho was an amazing performance. His calm music created a serene vibe in the crowd, which was a great way to cap off the final music acts of the festival. The calm music created a sense of unity, a reason for us all to be together to celebrate the music as one.
Monday: The Aftermath
It ended with sweat and dust. We packed up our bags and the rest of our belongings all covered in a film of dirt and left just as we came. However, Lightning in a Bottle left me with a new outlook on music festivals and most importantly, a new outlook on life. It truly made me see what we admire in a festival and amplified those qualities every day we were there. Most of all, it made me see that each and every person has their own unique intrinsic value and we should do our best to be kind and to unite with one another. It taught me that we are all one, and all it takes is for each of us to realize that. So if you have the desire to attend Lightning in a Bottle, I say GO! All I ask is that you go with an open mind, an open heart, and that you (in the wise words of our neighbor) boogie hard.