As the festival circuit grows more crowded with each lineup announcement and ticket sell-out, it’s never been more essential that a music fest provide more than just music and fun in the sun, offering everyone — from casual music fans to the hardcore festival aficionado — a consistently fresh and rewarding experience. Judging by the manner with which its organizers have been forging their very unique identity since 1996, Lightning in a Bottle is surely one of the finest festivals around, combining a festival experience unlike any other (where else could you find electro-superstar Pretty Lights, fire-dancers, and a lecture on sustainable living within walking distance from one another?) with an astoundingly welcoming yet close-knit community that manages to toe the line between major music fest and deeply spiritual, staunchly fringe art event, all while remaining unfettered by much of the commercial bullshit that plagues many other festivals (free water, all weekend!).
In addition, the close-knit nature of the Do LaB community allows for a widely shared spotlight (the festival closed out Sunday night in the Temple of Consciousness with LIB’s own take on Bonnaroo’s superjam: an impromptu jam session featuring some of the weekend’s finest performers sharing the stage for a four-hour jam session till sunrise), while the festival’s limit of two major stages acted as a sort of quality control (I went the whole weekend without witnessing a bad set, even as early as one in the afternoon). But the best part of Lightning in a Bottle is its aim to do much much than just showcase good music. For me, the best, most memorable moments came not facing a stage or forcing my way through a crowd, but sipping tea with some incredible people in the Lumi Lounge & Cafe, studying yoga with world-class instructors in the Temple of Consciousness, and seeing some of the most spectacular art installments I’ve ever set my eyes on.
Photo by Caesar Sebastian
Where most fests encourage you to study the days’ schedules and plan far ahead, Lightning in a Bottle is best enjoyed indeliberately as the day unfolds, allowing the light, pleasant breeze that wafts across the gorgeous Oak Canyon Ranch all day and night, the countless spectacles to be found on the festival grounds or any of your 12,000 or so fellow revelers to lead you along in the weekend’s adventures. Here’s how that went for this particular writer…