This year once again I was lucky enough to attend Lightning in a Bottle Music and Arts Festival along with my good friend Dominic. This was Sack Magazine’s third year in a row making the trip from Providence to California, only this year was quite spectacular in every fashion. The past two LIB’s were held in Southern California, both at beautiful locations with picturesque scenery. This year The Do Lab chose a different area smack in the middle of San Fransisco and Los Angeles. Now for those of you who do not know, California is a bit split up right down the middle. Those from SoCal like to express opinions on those from NorCal, and as the story goes those opinions are quite harsh. 2014 was about destroying that line and coming together not only as a state but as a community of people who share the same interests and hope for the future of our world. I felt it the second the sun went down on the first night, an overwhelming sense of family in the air. More importantly, there was a feeling of love. Every moment, every sunset and sunrise, this feeling never went away.
I have always respected The Do Lab for the pure creativity and work that goes into putting this festival on. The gigantic art installations around every corner made me wonder how many hours went into building them and I felt a genuine appreciation for it all. Based on my own experiences at other festivals and what I have seen, the competition is simply non-existent. A festival should be more than just a party and a place to carry your friends back to a bed somewhere. It should be a learning experience in more ways than one. The knowledge you gain is more valuable in the long run than the hangover. As I strolled around the festival grounds, it was so refreshing to see more than a girl from Red Bull throwing samples in my face. Instead I stopped by a gong temple and spoke with a kind man about sound healing. Little did I know how vibrations can put you in a state of absolute relaxation and when I woke up out of this trance I felt like a completely new human being, refreshed like never before. Another night I came across The Jive Joint as two talented little girls put on a show for proud parents and people passing by. Seeing children at a place like Lightning in a Bottle provokes a certain happiness and joy, reminding us of how happy we could be and that family is everything.
One of my favorite parts of Lightning is that everywhere you go at any time you can find live music or something to keep you entertained. Currently we are in the age of DJ’s and I myself being one can only dream of seeing actual instruments on a nightly basis. I found myself taking solo walks around the grounds letting my legs and ears decide where it would take me. The music was so spread that that no one artist overlapped the other, there was always a neutral point in the hike from one part of the festival to the other where you hear one artist fade out and another catches your ear. Regardless of where you go, there is always something to do or see at this festival. One of the highlights of of our late night walks was stumbling upon David Satori of Beats Antique at the Temple of Conciousness stage playing with his side project Dirtwire. This was a spiritual and in many ways magical experience for all involved.
One vital aspect that sets The Do Lab far apart from others is the lineup each year at Lightning in a Bottle. These artists are hand picked by the creators to make LIB what it is and to not only play for fans but gain new followers and spread the music to the far ends of the earth. Every artist you see will remain with you as long as you let them, inspiration is everywhere. I am beginning to think that is what Lightning in a Bottle means, that magic inside of all us that just needs to be brought out with a little inspiration.
One of my favorite sets of the weekend was from The Polish Ambassador, who has so much energy and positive vibes on stage that you can’t help but get up and move to his funky elektro original beats. Alongside him on stage this year for a few tracks was a Ayla Nereo, singer and folk songwriter who has paired with the funky diplomat to form his side project Wildlight.
Personally, the highlight of my weekend every single Lightning in a Bottle festival is the time I spend at the good old Woogie Stage! The Do Lab puts together a lineup full of the world’s best underground house DJ’s with a few surprises thrown in. This year was no different. Simian Mobile Disco performed a special DJ set that will always be remembered along with the legend himself Lee Burridge taking us on a journey through deep house as the sun dropped behind the rollings hills of Central California. Of course what would the Woogie Stage be without some Dirtybird? Claude Von Stroke and his pal Jphlip brought that San Fran grinding bassline vibe to the Woogie with fantastic sets that explored both Dj’s versatility and range. If you are a house head, or just someone who still appreciates quality dance music, the Woogie Stage just may be heaven on earth for you. During Lee Burridge’s set I remember fumbling with my GoPro as vibrations of bass rumbled through the roots of the giant tree (best tree yet) and through my spine, as Lee turned around and gave me the kindest hug of my life. As I walked down the stairs moving to the sounds of the Woogie as the sun began to set, I knew magic was not simply something we debate whether it exists or not, magic is something we feel when we surround ourselves with the things and people we love.
By: DJ Oscar Champagne