Lightning in a Bottle Slideshow + Review Pt 2 / Lake Skinner County Park (Temecula, CA) / July 11-15, 2013
Published: July 30, 2013
Photos by: Avi Gallant
Story by: Tooesday Behr
Well, it’s over. After a trek that damn near spanned the state of California, taking me from the cool hills of Humboldt County to the desert sun of Temecula, I find myself in the Los Angeles loft of the DJ/Producer known as Hoodlum (he was in NYC) near Venice Beach processing an experience that left me a bit bedazzled and indescribably stoked for next year.
Last year, after LIB 2012, I remember saying that The Do Lab couldn’t be touched in regards to running a professional, sensory stunning festival experience. This year, at a brand new venue, my opinion hasn’t changed.
The main stage was looking gorgeous in the baking sun and the PK sound was rumbling under the firm hands of the Desert Dwellers. For three hours I sat under a shade structure and listened to DD, Random Rab and Emancipator. It was like masturbating and cleaning my ears at the same time. The music was soft and billowy like a cool wind, then sharp and bouncy. As the sun set, Emancipator, with a stage full of collaborators on live instruments, said goodbye to the fiery ball of pain, and I strode into the night.
Speaking of fiery balls of power, ill-esha was exploding into the crowd when I walked to the Bamboo Stage, my first stop after the sunset. Little bits of vibrating, bass tarnished ill-esha were flying everywhere and the crowd was bouncing and heaving like 3000 sumo wrestlers all trying to have a go at each other at the same time. Having only experienced her via Memorex, seeing her in the flesh was like seeing Pulp Fiction for the first time. I walked away shaking my head saying, holy shit Tarantino. Except in this case it was a badass Canadian. Which almost never happens.
Christian Martin was making the Woogie Stage wobble so I grabbed a bit of that before heading back to the Bamboo to hear A.Skillz. Again, another dude in whose glory I had yet to bask, but as the name suggests, this guy has skills to pay the bills. Cheesy, but true. His horn-influenced bangers were magical and he scratched and cut his way through a high energy set. I ruptured my spleen trying to dance my way through. Oh, and in case you didn’t get enough cheese on the first go around, A.Skillz was A.mazing. Hah!
While I was still drip dropping from that fiasco, dealing with my spleen and trying to figure out if I should head to Purity Ring or Miguel Migs that damn Pole came on stage. This bastard has played at every damn festival in every damn place all over the whole damn planet. I have seen him twice this summer, heading to see him at Northern Nights Music Festival in Humboldt County the following weekend and I couldn’t tear myself away. He pulled out a socket-set made out of the most intricate melodies and jubbly bass and bolted my ass to the dance floor for an hour and a half. From Young MC to Michael Jackson this was a well-polished hip-hop hooray type of set. In the end, The Polish Ambassador laid bare the EDM scene and pulled out the bright, fluffy, poignant inner soul of the whole damn enchilada. I ate that enchilada until ranchero sauce ran down my face like tears.
The stages closed after that and I found myself rambling through rooms full of 3D craziness, shops of stuff, random camps and renegade stages going bloop and click. I got cozy and settled in watching a new DJ/Producer who is churning out some sweet trappy butter. Check out Josh WuWei Masser on SoundCloud or on Facebook when you get a second, then immediately book him for your next festival. The dude is on a voyage. You want to see where it’s going. Trust me.
Sweet Saturday! I awoke shining like a new penny after another early morning nap under my belt. I spent the morning carousing workshops with Alex and Allyson Grey, empowering my sexuality with Zat Bakara – who doesn’t want their sexuality empowered? – and taking a bath of pure sound at the sound alchemy demonstration under a shade tree. I felt like a modern day Zen warrior. My mind was floating around above me somewhere and I remember thinking how silly it was to complain about long lines, cops and death-inducing heat.
I was in my happy place.
Saturday morning made me take a look around and think about the amount of people involved, the magic, the art and the hard work that goes into LIB every year. It’s quite unbelievable. The Do Lab took a canvas and created a Rachel Mandala original. Yeah, I have a crush on Rachel and so does my misses. We parked our crew behind her all weekend at the bamboo stage and watched her bless the world with her genius.
I should also mention that I spent a portion of the morning thinking about a dude named Sunshine who was taken from us this year. Many of you probably knew him from the festival scene. He always wore a gigantic smile on his face and took a moment to make you feel like the most important person on the planet. Maybe it was the sun, or the serene moments of reflection, but I saw a few correlations between that bright shiny guy and this festival. He was one of the good ones and I had a feeling he was there, pumping up the scene. Rest in peace, brother.
I drifted over to the Bamboo stage and grounded myself on jOBOT and his downtempo grooves. I felt like he was exactly what the moment called for and I enjoyed rocking out with him during his gooey, good vibes set. jOBOT is one of the many master production wizards bouncing under the Headtron banner and I liked seeing that crew represented so well at LIB.
Halfway through that set I rolled back to the Lightning Stage to catch a bit of Vokab Kompany. Check out my review of The Bounce Festival here at The Untz for more information on these dynamos. In short, the performance was amazing. They bring it so good that I stopped by the Grand Artique late Sunday and watched them again.
Then it was on to Odesza who stomped and weaved and smashed his way into the hearts of all the poor bastards who couldn’t keep their feet from blowing up the dance floor like watermelons with fireworks inside. This was one of my top three hours of the weekend and I was glad I was there sweating to some of the best dance music out right now.
Then it was a blur of Kaminanda, Eskmo, Andrelien, Thugfucker and Gladkill before I was unceremoniously snatched from Level Five of auditory heaven and transported by this beautiful French-Canadian back to the Temple of Consciousness. Little did I know that she was delivering me to Level 7 and the unforgettable voice of Leah Song from Rising Appalachia.
If you have not downloaded The Human Experience’s new project with Rising Appalachia, Soul Visions, then you are missing out on the most incredible collaboration of the year. Song, with her sister Chloe make their debut in the world of electronic beats with uncanny angelic voices and the sweet sounds of the south. The album—lovingly called swamp whomp by Song during the album release party in Los Angeles following LIB – is the stuff of which legends are made. You can download it for free so give it a run through while making love in the middle of a forest. You won’t be disappointed. David Block, the mastermind behind The Human Experience had a cancelled sunrise set—due to dozing owls—on the Temple Stage. Glad I caught up with the whole shebang in LA.
Oh man. Then I was back at the Bamboo stage to see LowRIDERz. This trifecta threat consisting of DJ Laura and An-ten-nae with special guest Auberon were so well received that I had to wrestle my way to the front of the stage with a pry bar and a scaling ladder. Then it was shake and wiggle until my insides vibrated to my outsides. The smack of the low-end bass left me with a concussion and as I crawled my way towards a medical tent I felt the giddy smile on my face that signified being thoroughly rinsed out.
That’s when I hit a wall. Every stage around nine that night went soft and squishy and I was feeling the need for the tempo to jump from the LowRIDERz. I walked from Kastle’s live set – which was an auditory orgasm—to Nicolas Jaar’s panty slugging swoon–and back and then it hit me. LIB has a method to its madness. The lull, not in quality or sound but in tempo was intentional. The storm needed an eye so that Rusko and Griz could drop everyone back to earth like lightning and thunder.
And they did.
The lighting, sound and feel of Rusko banging away on the main stage had a cataclysmic mix of pure musicianship and uncontrollably wild bass abandonment. Classic Rusko mixed with epic, blended then poured down the eardrums like milk and honey. It was bliss in a tortellini with a heavy cream sauce for those who like to keep it sticky.
And GRiZ. I will try to restrain myself, but if this dude is not headlining your festival next year then you've failed, and should immediately fire your music curator. Four thousand of my friends and I whomped and rolled and sallied and slid and screamed through this performance like we were pure gasoline and GRiZ was the match. Yep, that good.
And that was it for me. The stages were battened down and the renegades were quiet so I bought a vest from my buddy Sweat Shop and moved back to my camp. There, we sat around and hucked it up, telling stories and bonded. My Humboldt family camp was a mish mash of the most amazing people with some adopted out of county peeps sprinkled in. It was a nice way to spend the wee hours and it made me remember how important the people are that you go to a festival with. Also, that hanging with old friends, and meeting new friends is just as important. Epic sausage. Big ups Humboldt fams!
One great thing about the sound getting turned off at midnight is that you get to bed at a reasonable hour. Usually the bedtime hour for me is around sunrise but getting to bed at one in the morning and waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed ain’t a bad way to swing. Especially when the sun shakes you out of your tent around sunrise.
After a bit of meditation I wondered off to check out Nico Luminous. A year ago, I opened up for Hypha, Nico Luminous and Knowa Lusion at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, Ca. Although my set was a disaster of sorts I stayed and watched Nico do his thing. I wasn’t disappointed then, or now. He’s always a strong performer.
After that it was Haywyre – another great dude making great music – and Giraffage in the mid-afternoon sun on Bamboo stage. I couldn’t tell you what these guys look like because of the sweaty, belligerently bouncy crowd but I liked the sets. Solid, wiggle inducing naughtiness.
Then Eprom came on stage. If you haven’t noticed, Eprom is literally tearing up the world right now. His production is tight and impossible not to groove with. His bio on his press kit says this about his music. “Fusing psychedelic space machine murderation, polytemponic neurocrunk and heavy-handed pleasure, Eprom creates obese ogres of bass. His mutated music is so full and rounded that it is holographic; such a massive sound requires multiple dimensions to fully express its brilliant colors and diversely accumulated weight.” I have no idea what the fuck any of that means but it sounds pretty badass and, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Then gLAdiator came out to play. The next person I hear who says trap is rinsed out is going to get slapped in the face with one of this dudes mixes. gLAdiator smashes 808’s and synths into neat little boxes of super-cali-agro-licious-someone-give-me-doses and makes people spin and swing like professional dancers. Producer/DJ WuWei said it would be the best trap set of the weekend. I listened, and then agreed.
Then I started running laps back and forth from Tycho, to Paper Diamond, to An-ten-nae to PantyRaid and then settled in for a large chunk of Phutureprimitive. All of the music was spectacular in uniquely polished and personal ways. In the end—and I don’t know why—but I came to the last set on the Bamboo stage with a little apprehension. I always like to wear myself out during the last set of the festival and although I have never seen PhutureP on stage, I thought the set was going to be pretty mellow. Low and behold, I was dead wrong. The set was a storybook with a cosmic glitter cover, sprayed with shiny moonbeams and piping hot bass reverberation. I watched Rain rock out my favorite set of the weekend. It was a beautiful mix of everything that I love about bass music. He welded his sound like a flaming sword and wrangled the crowd like they were wee furry sheep. It was the perfect set to end a fairly rounded and fantastic festival.
I roamed around the festival that night taking in everything from The Village, to The Temple of Consciousness, back to the Lightning Stage, then the Bamboo Stage – where I spent a large amount of my time – down to the Woogie Stage and then I roamed through thousands of camp sites getting the lowdown on the festival from people I met along the way.
Overall, the word on the dusty streets was the festival was an enormous success. Peeps had a great time and the music was an untouchable mass of the biggest and best the scene has to offer right now. The party didn’t rage all night for everyone so a ton of people went to lectures, met new people, got in touch with their sexuality, ate some of the best food in the world, meditated, did yoga, and had a rounded festival experience. Can’t see anything wrong with that.
The important part, and this is hard to say, is not the individual party experience. It is the growth of the individual inside the party experience. What did you learn friends, where did your imagination take you? What are you inspired to do now that you are home? What changes do you feel like making in your life? Hopefully Lightning in a Bottle helped give you some answers to some of those questions. I know it did for me.
Like I said, it wasn’t perfect, but man-oh-man it was pretty damn close. As the Do Lab figures out how to better tweak things for next year I will be patiently waiting to see how it all turns out. Like An-ten-nae said at the end of his set, “Big ups to the Do Lab, they do it right.”