Temecula Colors :: Moments of Lighting in a Bottle 2013

The idea of traveling across the USA to fabulous Los Angeles runs romantic until the lengthy journey back- where the Nebraska fields embody infinity and the insides of a Greyhound bus clutter with underslept toddlers and a hellish mixture of toothless country boys and antagonistic runaways. When feeling especially isolated, which crowds of impolite strangers and the post-festival blues tend to provoke, I would simply shut my eyes and return to Lightning in a Bottle, the immersive California music festival in which my reasoning to spend 90 hours on a bus became justified. To the colorful Woogie Stage hammock area, to be exact:

AdrienneThomas2013LIBWoogieStageAdrienneThomas2013LIBLounging

Everybody here was exactly where they wanted to be. That was the vibe in the Woogie mini forest, unwinding under blessed shade to happy house tunes, just outside the giant water-spraying dance area. We saw Jason Bentley here on Saturday, KCRW’s host of LA’s illustrious “Morning Becomes Eclectic” mix & interview hour. He spun from a rainbow treehouse that lined the festival’s outer grounds; it looked something like this:

AdrienneThomas2013LIBTreehouseHe integrated these vocals throughout his set, it was utterly amplifying:

It’s hard to escape the redundancy of the phrase “happy festival,” but in the case of LIB, every encounter I experienced or witnessed bellowed with positivity up to and through the clouds. Even the festival’s security staff noted the respect maintained by campers, citing almost no fights during the 5-day experience. I met a guy roaming through our campsite who ranted about his higher-achieving brother for a few minutes, but when his heightening adrenaline turned his topic towards a “I might just shoot my brother” “joke,” our neighbor informed him that if he spoke like that again he would have to leave. And that was that. Happy was the collectively enforced mood, and that community element is what makes LIB stand out from any other festival I’ve been to. Check these smiling faces:

The two artists I knew best before arriving were Acid Pauli and Nicolas Jaar, both on Jaar’s minimal deep-house label Cloud and Sunset. I had seen Jaar a week before on a beach in Chicago. The prospect of a repeat of this made me violently giddy, his music feels like a soundtrack to my psyche; in it I find both solace and excitement. Pauli and Jaar killed it with bass and patience-building drops, I was proud to introduce them to our festival posse. Listen here:

Hard-hitting electro and deep-falling dubstep- the kind of music that just sucks on computer speakers but flames your body in concert- filled the Bamboo Stage most of the weekend and the main Lightning Stage both weekend nights. PANTyRAiD and Rusko hit us with their screeching adrenaline, and we could do nothing but fold our disciplined bodies, over and over and over again. AN-TEN-NAE unleashed his self-proclaimed “ACID-CRUNK” live remixing at the Bamboo Stage Sunday night. His set featured dark and wobbly remixes of Santigold, Daft Punk and Beyonce + Andre 3000:

Excuse my lack of night photos. I chose to effusively party when the sun went down. AdrienneThomas2013LIBMysteryMan

Pumpkin at the Woogie Stage was the happiest set on Sunday, featuring his live rapping over hip-house remixes, followed by an indie-rock mixing revival. His accessibility welcomed all electronic festival newcomers, and for me his sound will forever be bound to the joy we felt while dancing, soaked by stage-sprayers, in the 90 degree dry California heat. Live music would end at midnight, but campsite “renegade” parties attempted to continue the music much later. Sometimes this would work, but security crews didn’t allow each pop-up DJ to play for more than 20 minutes. Many LIB regulars expressed their frustration with the new Lake Skinner location noise policy, noting these after hour parties as a highlight from previous years. Hopefully next year these issues will be resolved. Our campgrounds cuddled in the desert mountains:

As the photos tell well, LIB more than anything is a place to do, feel and be free. A model for how life outside it should always be. An escape to a place more real than your office desk, or a kind reminder to harness your pleasures in every place they arise. Music aside, festival grounds included barter-only shops, fluff relaxation tents, psychedelic imagery stations, artists making art literally everywhere, a silent disco “frisco,” massive meditation and yoga sessions and a number of wellness workshops inside the Temple of Consciousness. LIB is vegan and green in a wholly unobnoxious, welcoming way. Climb a treehouse and watch the scenes from above, or get down and dirty in the middle of a dub-drenched crowd. Anything goes, and life’s just luscious that way. See you next year, LIB!

(All words and photos by yours truly, Adrienne Thomas)

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