According to “official” history, Lightning in a Bottle (LiB) started in Santa Barbara in 2000, with just 100 or so people equipped with “generators, Xmas lights, old-skool vinyl, a healthy measure of can-do attitude, and a leave-no-trace ethos.” Today, Lightning in a Bottle has grown into Southern California’s premiere alternative arts festival, a three-day event that attracts thousands of people to camp, dance, and be together in a beautiful natural setting. Combining their signature elements of green sustainability and top-notch electronic music, LiB creators the Do LaB are sure to outdo themselves this year, with a bigger camping area, huge headliners (e.g., Thievery Corporation), and their consistently amazing DIY construction art. If you’ve been to Burning Man or Coachella, you’ve seen their work; hyper-stylized party environments that use flowing lines and fanciful metaphors to create otherworldly—and earth-friendly—spaces.
I visited the Do LaB’s studio in downtown Los Angeles last week, where dozens of workers swarmed the giant space, toting wooden beams and painting backdrops. While I was there, I spoke with LiB founder Jesse Fleming, who gave me three great reasons why you should put a tent in your trunk and get on down to Lightning in a Bottle 2011, which stretches all the way from Friday, May 27, to the early morning of Monday, May 30, at the Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado. For tickets and info, visit lightninginabottle.org.
1. The Place: Fleming said that he loves the Oak Canyon Ranch because “It’s so close to the city, and yet, once you cross over into the ranch, it’s all green hills with the most beautiful lake. The campground there is enormous, so everyone will have plenty of space to set up and do their thing.”
2. The Scene: Outside of Burning Man, there’s nothing that compares to LiB’s convergence of like-minded individuals. In addition to the dozens of insanely great musical acts (Beats Antique, Pretty Lights, Random Rab) and performing troupes (Lucent Dossier, Stilt Circus, El Circo), there are workshops on everything from organic gardening to social networking, and no less than 15 amazing yoga teachers leading classes at all times of the day and night.
3. The Sounds: Fleming told me that Do LaB did not have to hustle to land headliners Thievery Corporation. In fact, just the opposite was true. “We met Rob [Garza, one half of the TC duo] at Burning Man, and he was so into what we were doing there that it just kind of came together naturally for us to include them.”