Crossing a brightly decorated bridge from one peninsula to another, enthusiastic music fans were quick to high five each other as they walked in opposite directions to watch their next electronic music performance.
Tucked away along the dry bed of Lake San Antonio, thousands of campers gathered over Memorial Day weekend for the Lightning in a Bottle festival. Campgrounds integrated into the festival area provided a community-like atmosphere reminiscent of a small, nomadic village.
The five-day experience involved a variety of activities including guest speakers, yoga meditation, food education and performances by popular electronic musicians.
The music lineup, studded with artists including ODESZA, Flume and Shiba San, made Lightning in a Bottle a memorable experience for DJing and electronic dance music fans.
In addition to electronic music, the festival also incorporated an impressive variety of artwork ranging from enormous animal-shaped structures to live painting galleries. A blending of artistic mediums gave the Lightning in a Bottle festival great balance, given such a packed music lineup.
An outdoor stage, named The Woogie, featured a colorfully decorated DJ chamber built into a tree house. DJs Mikey Lion, Thomas Jack and Bob Moses performed loud, crisp sets on Friday afternoon amid dust and mist-filled air.
As festivalgoers collectively howled at the sun as it set into the horizon Friday night, the volume turned up at the Lightning Stage for back-to-back performances by alternative electronic musicians ODESZA and SBTRKT.
ODESZA, composed of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, displayed its ability to innovate new aesthetic sounds and live electronic drumming into the performance. The duo’s set included a blending of new and old material that included songs “All We Need” and “How Did I Get Here,” receiving warm audience reception.
On Saturday, Los Angeles producer Goldroom, composed of Josh Legg and an accompanying band, performed an uplifting set at the Lightning Stage, featuring soothing harmonized vocals accompanied by onscreen beach-themed visuals.
As cool night air blew through the festival grounds, Lucent Dossier Experience – a group of musicians, aerialists and dancers – performed an intense series of skits that provided a bizarre intermission between musical acts. Exhilarating feats of fire juggling and daring acrobatic stunts awed the crowd and raised its energy level.
Much-anticipated Australian producer Flume took the stage past midnight on Saturday and displayed his wide range of collaborative tracks such as “Left Alone feat. Chet Faker,” along with a few unreleased songs that blared between high and low frequencies, enlivened the crowd into a roaring applause.
On Sunday, the elaborately lit Thunder Stage hosted smooth performances by electronic dance artists Hermitude, Les Sins and RL Grime. Warm smiles and energetic dancing by audience members gave the stage a lively feel complemented with well-mixed tent acoustics.
The musical side of Lightning in a Bottle was definitively its highlight. Stages were creatively designed, and artistic talent of all forms was on display throughout the festival grounds all weekend.
Each new morning brought forth a new day packed with festival activities, such as guided yoga or organic cooking classes, later followed in the afternoon by an all-out live musical experience lasting until 2 a.m. each night.
Lightning in a Bottle continues to grow, reflected in this year’s largest attendance in festival history estimated at 15,000 people. With its location by a remote lake bed, there is plenty of room for growth as long as festival organizers continue to handle all the basic needs of such a huge campground, which includes water, trash and sanitary facilities.
Lightning in a Bottle immersed an excellent musical lineup of electronic musicians with various other exhibits of artistic expression such as live painting and creative structures decorated throughout the festival grounds for a memorable outdoor weekend experience.
– Max McGee