If you were to actually capture lightning in a bottle, what would happen? Would you feel it? Would you hear it? Would it explode into one massive experiential, super weird, extra amazing party? In the curious case of this celebration of art, music, performance, sustainability and life, I would have to say from first hand experience: YES. It would burst into a GIANT playground made just for you. One that allows you the freedom to express yourself, find a new adventure around every corner, witness magic, feel musical vibrations, fill your soul, and experience life’s wonderful simplicities with a heavy dose of human kindness. What made Lightning in a Bottle so special to me can be defined by these three words:
INSPIRE – PLAY – LEARN
I N S P I R E :
What could possibly be more inspiring than spending the long weekend with a pulsating crowd of positive humans in a gorgeous setting with some of the best music and production on the planet? I was truly blown away on many musical accounts over my 3 days at LIB. I actually feel as though I could write a novel on the music alone, but here are some of the highlights that I was inspired by most:
The Funk Hunters.
They did two incredible sets on two stages. At the Thunder stage, they threw down… As they do. It was jam-packed and shit was getting funk-wild! Their second show at the Grand Artique had a completely different vibe (think Bookashade meets Tom Petty in a classic old-school remix). Chilllllll.
Crying over Porcelain.
edIT and Ooah of the infamous “Glitch Mob” showed a different side of their musical endeavours. Still revealing those classic glitch mob synths, the duo’s sonically beautiful softer side-project Crying Over Porcelain was hugely welcomed by fans. “They’re like modern day Mozart”, said Nick Middleton of The Funk Hunters.
We all know the Dirtybird Crew’s musical calibre. Take Justin Jay, add colourful water-spritzing-space-ship-like structures (a saviour in the hot hot heat), plus thousands of happy groovy move-y dancing bodies, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a day time dance party.
Crowd under connnnnnnntrol! Big G brought the BIG VIBES… You’ve never seen a bigger swell of positivity, swallowing up every last beat drop, every sax note, and every bang bang boom. It was fan-fucking-tastic!
How does one seasoned festival-goer begin to explain the Earth Harp Collective? For starters, it is the largest stringed instrument on the planet. The reason it’s called the Earth Harp is because the first time it was installed, the strings ran from one side of a valley 1000 ft across to the other side, turning the Earth’s terrain into a giant harp. At LIB, they use the stage to host the instrument and then stretch the strings across the crowd. The acoustics were spine tingling creating a unified resonation and harmonization. Magical.
Have you every seen an opera singer dressed like a unicorn sing acapella operatics and hold a crowd of ravers down for 35 minutes? I have. And it was fuckin’ mind blowing. Lucia Soaring Diamonds, aka LSD, turns out is the gateway drug to opera.
Sunset set. All the feels. Her alluring vocals and groovy as F band were the perfect way to wind down after a sticky sweaty day. I’ve wanted to see her for the past 3 years. Honestly, she was a big reason why I went to LIB, and she did not disappoint.
I can’t figure out how else to describe these artists other than “creative circus gone weird in the best way possible.” I’ll let the photos speak for themselves on this one.
Meditation station (… a beautiful tree).
A renegade jam at the Meditation Lookout for sunrise took our morning to new heights as we welcomed the sun and a shiny new day. It was a soft, beautiful, voice singing “we’ve got love” accompanied by ethereal cello, and brought home by violin, cajun, hand drum and melodica.
My first experience at the Meditation Lookout was so magical I couldn’t resist a second round for our last night. This journey to the summit featured a dude named Dom who called up the sun with one of the best iPod “DJ” mixes ever. His sweet sound waves were pumped through a vintage suitcase that had been transformed into a stereo called the “boom case”. See photo. Smiles say it all.
A note on stagecraft:
HOLY FUCKING INSPIRATION, BATMAN. Lightning in a Bottle is doing it right. The sound booths are made of pirate ships and the cats are made of cashmere. Seriously their production was next level.
A note on art and installations:
Do Art – With an amazing display of emergent and live art, Lightning in a Paint Can was a marvel, and one of the many reasons why this well-rounded festival experience should not be missed. Over the course of several days, many visionary street artists covered massive canvases with their imagery and their souls. In the final moments of the festival, the pieces came together with finishing touches and were transformed. Beautiful from beginning to end, these paintings oozed with coolness, like spray-paint drips on canvas. Also competing for your wide-eyed attention were the many phenomenal installation pieces scattered throughout the grounds.
P L A Y :
It’s like climbing the rope in gym class! These were my favourite spots to play at LIB. And gad damn I had funnnnn.
“The great bingo revival, with its smorgasbord of festie funk, bingo-go babes, and golden glamor, is straight up ridiculous. The game’s magic is transported through bubbles, fog, and lasers straight to your heart. In the end, it’s the BINGO dance party church of golden glory; a place where lovers meet, lovers bang, and ALL your bingo dreams come true.” Rambo Party Productions. Nuff said? Nuff said.
Amores Casino & Burlesque.
An entire after-hours club where you could gamble, have a full dinning experience, sip a cocktail, boogie til sun-up, and/or have your portrait drawn with your festival family.
Karaoke under the bridge.
Another fine example of people at play is the Live Karaoke happening under the bridge that connects the Lightning stage to the Favela Bar. A projection screen, microphone, glowing lights, and eager volunteers made up this musical troll-under-the-bridge remix. Passersby were delightfully distracted on their way to their next destinations.
How do you describe this? It’s like… an obstacle course for bowling balls. See video below.
L E A R N :
To offer is to receive, and to receive is to offer. The learning aspect of LIB added a new level of meaning to festival goers, and to me. There was an empowering level of responsibility to dig deeper into the roots of festival life, and life in general.
A place for learning sustainable self-care and healthful indulgence. Where can you go to festival and learn how to cook at the same time? Where can you craft a superfood smoothie, tonic, and watermelon ganache? LIB.
I bumped into a bunch of friends on my way to yoga that I had to run away from so that I could get to the class before getting pulled back into the dance vortex. Glad I did. I was much more ready to bump n’ grind after a little stretch n’ breathe. Thanks, Juju Namjai for the solar-charged flow. *extra point for learning when to say ‘no’ so that you can say more ‘yes’ later.
So many workshops, so little time. Actually. I feel like you need 3 separate LIB’s to experience all the music, quirks, AND workshop offerings. Overwhelming, really. I’m mad at myself because I didn’t make it to more. I’ll have to come back next year…
Some interesting workshops that caught my attention were Inner Gardening with James Stark, Meeting your Animal Totem with Tanya Love, All Plants are Teachers: How to Use and Find Local Medicine with Erica Wohldmann, Nourish Your Adrenals and Party Harder with Chef Sarah Brewer, and Eammonn Armstrong of Fest 300’s talk on Masculinity. What I learned: clone myself so that there are more Kora’s to do all the things… Betty, you were missed!!!
Family-friendly yoga, drum circles, arts and crafts, peaceful ninja lessons, friendship bracelets, and flow arts filled the Kidz Adventure Zone and the Teen Scene with lots of goodies for the young ones of the tribe. It was amazing to see entire families festing together!
Something I learn and re-learn at every festival: Talk to strangers. It’s where all the new fun happens. Open your heart up. Make more friends. YOU DO NOT HAVE TOO MANY FRIENDS.
Not sure if this ought to be in the “Learning” area, but I discovered that for someone with food allergies and restrictions, LiB was probably the best place I could have been. Tons of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options. Fuck yeah.
A side note:
I’d like to take a moment to give a personal shout out to ethos and sustainability of this festival. I rarely saw garbage on the ground and the recycling, composting and water stations were on par.
I wish there were three of me so that I could tell you something special about every nook and cranny this beautiful festival has to offer. But there were three distinct parts of me that were spiritually and significantly influenced by the inspiration, education and the willingness to let go and play. The combination of which, is the heart and soul of this dreamworld that Lightening in a Bottle created. Lightning inspires and awakens the inner child. It is the occurrence of a natural force between its creator and its receiver. It not only gave me the tools to make the most of what I had in front of me, but laid the groundwork for the twenty-six thousand festival goers that surrounded me.
Words By: Kora | Photos By: Joffrey Middleton-Hope and Kora
PS I have to take a moment to shout out some of my favourite people in the world who made this experience possible for me. You know who you are and gad damn do I ever love and appreciate you. I’d also to give an honorary mention to all the beautiful kind souls I met at LIB and am now proud to say are a part of my Festy Family. And lastely, a GIANT thank you to Bree Laboucane, Syliva Tennant, Arran Coupland, and Megan Trumble for lending me their ears, eyes and mad editing skills to make this article into something wonderful. Sending BIG LOVE to you all.