Chances are if you’re a frequent festival goer, you’ve come to experience or least hear word of the amazing Do LaB. If you’re unfamiliar with this collective of artists, performers & musicians, then now may be a fine time to get yourself educated.
Since 2004, the Do LaB has been working collaboratively to produce wildly imaginative events, interactive environments, stage shows, performance troupes and musical acts. From humble beginnings they’ve now cemented themselves as true innovators in the scene by putting their creative talents behind some of today’s biggest festivals (hello Burning Man & Coachella).
If all of this wasn’t enough, this ambitious collective has also crafted their own transformational festival; the aptly named Lightning in a Bottle. As elusive as the name suggests, this festival effortlessly blends an eclectic mix of elements into singular rare occurrence.
First Hand Experience
After many years of appreciating from afar, myself and my eager band of festival veterans decided 2013 was the year to immerse ourselves in the LiB experience. And just as expected the Do LaB did not disappoint.
We arrived at the new festival location in Lake Skinner, California in the twilight hours following a rather lengthy off-site process to obtain our wristbands.
The first thing that caught our attention, as we wandered to gain a sense of the site, was the uniquely Do Lab art structures and stage designs. We then noticed that numerous live art stations were peppered throughout the fields. These stations ran throughout the weekend, as we watched painters create original graffiti and visionary style works. Though we didn’t join in, we also had heard there was a chance to make silent auction bids on the finished works.
The LiB Lifestyle
Numerous early morning yoga & breath work sessions were available for those needing their daily zen fix. Portable shower trailers with complimentary tea tree shampoo & lotion offered a refreshing start to the day.
Foodies beware this festival’s got your number. Though preparing food at camp is an option, be sure to set aside some dollars to take in the food vendors. Vegan, veggie & superfood options are abundant and if I hear you cringing at the thought of bland “this must be good for me” style vegan, then fear not. Incredibly flavoured Thai, Indian. Japanese & Western-Fusion dishes were served. Who can say no to the occasional superfood smoothie and regenerating elixir? Did we partake in fresh shucked mussels on a hot summers day? Yes. Did we enjoy numerous ice cold craft beers? Yes.
The standard festival fare of pizza, burgers & mini donuts were notably absent.
It’s worth also mentioning that once you were done noshing, waste management was well taken care of. Biodegradable plates, cups & cutlery were in use by every vendor. Recycle, composite and waste stations were in full effect (and frequently emptied … No gross overflow). Thanks to the existing campsite facilities, free water was never far away.
Getting Down to the Sound
Ok so what about the music? Again the key to this fest is the refreshing balance of DJs and live performance acts delivering electronic, bass and crossover indie. Unlike other festivals who build around a central music core (drum & bass, psytrance, electro, trance, house, indie, etc.) no one genre jumped out as the focus here. This is a delicate path to walk while maintaining a cohesive feel and LiB walks it well.
Here are only a few highlights… Edmonton’s own Purity Ring rocked our socks with their haunting stage design and their special blend of witch house. A-skillz brought a flawless set of master turntablism. Pumpkin shared a perfect mix of indie bass. Tycho’s blend of chill wave and projected vintage surf videos made an ideal soundtrack to the setting sun. The Panty Raid duo succumbed to moments of “jump around to hype the crowd”. Though they did bring some rump shakin’ ghetto booty babes who made it rain with Panty Raid branded Monopoly money for some decent amusement. GoldRoom & Odesza hit the spot for some hot afternoon indie dance listening. Oh, and of course Paper Diamond got the bodies moving in fine form.
A surprisingly nice feature was the lack of powered sound after midnight. This meant stages went silent and camps were kept to a gentle hum of a few acoustic instruments. While this may have left a few night owls wanting, it removed any temptation to push yourself to ‘win the rave’ until sunrise. This meant a decent nights sleep each night and a surprisingly refreshed morning. All of this seemed to subtly echo the theme of a healthy & balanced lifestyle which seemed to permeate the festival.
Workshops for All Walks
The only remaining piece of this festival puzzle was the world-class daytime workshops. The wide variety of talks ensured there was something to spark everyone’s brain matter. Highlights for me included Kung Flow Bo Staff Skills with Ryan Riff Parks, How to Eat for Better Sex with the Cooking Channel’s Jason Wrobel and Confessions of an Economic Hitman author John Perkins speaker session.
Even when not attending workshop sessions, eye opening and future forward concepts echoed across the field. What were once deemed ideas of the iconoclast seem perfectly natural at this festival. What was even nicer was the lack of self-righteous, doom and gloom speak (the “we’ve ruined our planet now feel the guilt” kind of lecture). All the speakers injected a warm sense of personal empowerment along with their refreshing perspectives. Again, the general theme here is intentional living.
If you’re like us and tending on the slightly more older side and thinking maybe I’m getting too old for this festival scene then be prepared to think again. LiB seemed to attract a slightly more mature crowd. Not so much in age as in mindset. Weekend warriors looking to “crush it” seemed fairly absent. That being said playful silliness was still in full effect.
Lightning in a Bottle is a genuinely well rounded festival aiming to give you more of what you love and ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle while doing it. You would have a hard time trying to compress this many wonderful experiences in a vacation weekend elsewhere.
Also, if you have friends you would like to introduce to our festival scene but are afraid they might be scared off by it being: too hippy, too hipster, too bass-y, too commercial, too weird, etc. then fear not, this festival has something they will be sure to connect with. That is assuming they like good food, great music, original art and learning new things.
We can only hope the future of festivals is moving down the path charted by the likes of the Do LaB and other similarly minded collectives. If so we have a whole lot to look forward to.