by Chris Clark
In its 9th year, Lightning in a Bottle returned after a year off to a much more
magnified scale, with a new site at Oak Canyon Ranch, a massive line up and three stages
of some of electronic music’s best and brightest. For three days, a little over 7,000
scantily-clad hipsters, Burners and a surprisingly healthy amount of families and pre-
pubescent youngsters congregated in SoCal, dancing, twirling and hooping 24/7 to the likes
of The Glitch Mob, Eliot Lipp, Beats Antique, Adam Freeland, MIMOSA, Booka Shade and
dozens of others. For those looking to broaden their horizons and reach ultimate
enlightenment, there were workshops day and night, offering Buddhist yoga, Growing Energy
Labs, Kundalini Dance and a plethora of renowned speakers.
What resulted was an intelligently designed, well executed time of your life
situated on the banks of a beautiful lake in the middle of seemingly nowhere. There were
glowing sunsets over rising foothills, enough feather and leather to clothe two entire
villages and plenty of shining, happy people to put a smile on even the smuggest of grins.
No trash, no violence, no drama-just what a California festival thrown by party masters
The Do Lab should be.
Marty Party-10:00-Bamboo Stage
Marty Party can be straight fire. Lucky enough to see him several times in San
Francisco, each time Marty Party comes onstage, the exuberance and excitement is soon
followed by a ballistic barrage of bass. This set was nothing short of BOOM, as he
brought the first explosion of the night with a brain-shifting remix of The Beatles
“Eleanor Rigby” that seemingly had the entire crowd getting low and many heads starting to
bang. Look to your side, you might even find a few people singing, “All the lonely
people, where do they all belong?” to a heavy onslaught of speaker-shifters. More
impressive was Marty Party’s amazing The xx “Infinite” remix. If there were a certified
panty dropper that Friday night, this would’ve surely made a run for it. As soon as into
transitioned into the “Would you be my fucking boyfriend” acapella spilled over the dirty
dub step beat, the Bamboo Stage went wet and wild. With girls dancing all around him and
spectral lasers overhead, Marty Party expanding upon Daddy Kev’s energy and proved a
worthy fun maker to say the least.
Some sets at festivals you love, and some you don't. EOTO was one of the latter. I honestly just couldn’t into
their set. To each his own; but to me, the songs generally failed to gain any substantial traction and flow.
This set was straight auditory butter; slow, smooth and full of flavor. His “Android
Porn” provides about enough deep bass, Depends diapers were surely in order. Since
departing from The Glitch Mob a year ago to pursue a solo career, Kraddy has grown as an
artist and producer, shifting focus to more heavy, dirty, nasty music he would say. His
set had a soulful hue behind it, evoking a clearly composed, concisely paced collection of new material that had
everyone moving from the first bass drop.
Booka Shade-12:30am-Lightning Stage
German electrohouse duo Booka Shade under the stars on the main, Lightning Stage was a
treat. Here, a large open field, lined with lush foliage and punctuated by a myriad of
cascading lights providing a gorgeous backdrop for a night of electronic music. Not
having seen them live before, I had no idea of their stage set up and just how interesting
and different it is to watch a drummer standing the entire show. The combination of
Walter Merzinger and Arno Cammermeier turned LIB into an outdoor European dance club, with
pure driving electro beats creating a dance party under the stars. Performing songs off
their brand new album “More!,” the duo’s set was without a doubt a crowd pleaser, as many
in attendance had Booka Shade at the very top of their LIB “To Do Lists.” To me, it was a
pleasant departure for the booming bass fest of the previous acts.
Lunch time Saturday involved finding some shade from the rising heat near some of the
amazing art that graced the festival grounds. Situated across the vendor strip from the
half dozen or so organic food vendors and nearby the Art Gallery, a collection of tens of
beautiful paintings, part of the Lightning in a Paintcan series, were directly in front of
us as the Luminaries performed in the midday sun. Directly behind where we were sitting
was a quaint pond, complete with a walking bridge across the water below. After a
tumultuous time trying to get to the festival and all that fat bass and fun times that
ensued thereafter, it was nice to take a seat, relax and listen to some rootsy hip hop in
Nosaj Thing-6:30-Bamboo Stage
Nosaj Thing is the man. He’s so intricately creative, that each time out he manages to
put together a set nothing short of genius. I don’t know how he does it and makes it look
so effortless and smooth, but the LA-based beat maker surely can throw it down with the
best of them, and do it with such style. Watching him flow and the effort he puts into
his live production, there’s no wonder jaws were dropping left and right watching his
quick prowess manipulating and driving a multifaceted concoction of candid creativity.
But then, it was over. For a reason unbeknownst to me, he left the stage with plenty of
time left and on came Random Rab.
With the quick departure of Nosaj from the Bamboo Stage, a couple of us ended up
venturing over to Ott’s set at the Lightning Stage. A good friend of mine who I hadn’t
seen in a way too long was running production at this stage, so it was nice to catch up
while watching Ott from behind the sprawling wooden stage. That’s my favorite vantage
point, to experience the show, the crowd and that interaction from the artist’s
perspective. His dub-based sound was eagerly welcomed from the main stage’s crowd, as
London’s Ott danced between the giant wooden pillars that graced the stage’s façade. As
the setting sun quickly approached, we meandered back towards Random Rab’s explorations
already in progress.
Random Rab-7:45-Bamboo Stage
The festival’s resident DJ this year was surely Random Rab. He’d performed in the
giant bathtub (yes, a massive tub with showers and naked people galore) along at the
bottom of the hill earlier in the day and now he was getting an extra long set and people
loved it. His emo tinged; delightful down tempo was the perfect soundtrack to the setting
sun over the mountains in the background. There were countless moments throughout the
weekend where, when you moved your head away from the bass and thump and really took in
the beautiful surroundings you were kind of left in awe. Not a cloud in the sky, perfect
temperature situated right next to a glistening blue lake in the heart of the mountains.
It was truly an epic experience of getting back to nature. For someone who almost never
gets out of the city life it was certainly a phenomenal feeling.
Ellot Lipp-9:00-Bamboo Stage
Top three set of the weekend, hands down. Eliot Lipp’s stock has steadily risen in my
book over the years and his LIB performance took the cake. His timing was impeccable, his
beats were downright delicious and at the end of the day, Lipp was the total dance party
set of the weekend. He deftly incorporates slick and dirty bass lines with an up-tempo,
decidedly funky delivery, capably stimulating the LIB crowd to fall into his throwback
beat bump funk. The Brooklyn transplant, not unlike Nosaj earlier, is an artist that
thrives in the live setting, and the catapult the crowd added made for one of the premier
sets of the weekend.
Lucent Dossier Experience-11:30-Lightning Stage
This is indeed, an experience. Lucent Dossier’s collection of acrobats, dancers, crazy
toys and stage antics provided a sweat-soaked, sexually-charged rendezvous into everything
The Do Lab. Bringing magic, fire and sound with them, this troupe of creatively charged
artists proved that indeed, they at the core are a “playground for the innovative genius
child in all of us.”
Beats Antique-12:30-Lightning Stage
Beats Antique headlined Saturday night and brought with them a big band sound and set
up that I wasn’t quite expecting. What I thought would be the trio of David Satori,
Sidecar Tommy and belly dancer Zoe Jakes had evolved into accordions, horns, strings and
enough Middle Eastern meets big bass sound to entice just about any and every LIB
attendee. If there were one purely classifiable Burner moment, this set would be it.
Choreographed beautiful women dancing to glitched-out breaks met Arabian Nights into one
melodious mélange of old sound taken into new directions.
Sweet Snacks-11:45am-Bamboo Stage
This was absolutely hilarious. Branding themselves in the illustrious K-Pop genre,
Sweets Snacks is a playful little ditty with a French MC and everyone decked out in mini
shorts and 80’s shades. They essentially are a glorified karaoke band with a quirky
demeanor, think early Devo on whippets.
Emancipator turned out a great piece of music on Sunday, playing a fine tailored set of danceable down tempo. I
looked forward to his set coming into LIB and coupled with the approaching sunset situated directly behind the open
stage, Emancipator delved deeply in his repertoire, at one time mashing up Sigor Ros and Mobb Deep into one
cohesive slice of art pie. As the sun dropped, Emancipator’s crowd grew, offering Asian-
inspired backdrops that put a happy vibe sheathe over the Bamboo Stage’s onlookers.
Daedalus’ set started off great. He came out with vigor and energy, delivering a dose
of decadent dance floor beats that made me second guess who I was seeing at the time. It
was rather unexpected judging by the other live Daedalus sets I’d witnessed in the past.
But, then it got weird. Tempos slowed, stopped and the set began to sound a bit off. You can’t win ‘em all and I’m
sure a drink and bathroom run was in order.
Speaking to that, The Do Lab did an absolutely fantastic job with the site layout and
the availability and frequency of water faucets, clean toilets and drinks made for such an enhanced festival
experience. All the short walks, no lines and cheaply priced food,
drinks and ice were much appreciated.
This kid is on fire! Over the last year Tigran Mimosa has been blowing up the West
Coast and beyond with his new school SF dub step. By combining a barrage of chainsaw bass with a feathering of
melodic, mind-mesmerizing layers, MIMOSA performed an hour-plus set of pure bass knockers. Even his new ‘down
tempo’ material makes your chest thump and
almost automates getting those knees bent, all in preparation for his boisterous remix of
Rihanna’s “Rude Boy.”
Not having mentioned just how impressive LIB’s sound systems were yet, I have to say
that The Do Lab truly outdid themselves this year, with speaker stacks that enjoyed
auditory pummeling day and night. Crystal clear big bass was the norm and at a point or
two during MIMOSA’s set, I actually put my finger in my ear to make sure it wasn’t
bleeding. It was that loud that it was surprising the giant bamboo shoots that comprised
the stage didn’t shift a bit.
The Glitch Mob-12:45-Lightning Stage
There’s a reason The Glitch Mob was left to play the last set of 2010’s Lightning in a
Bottle. Well, there’s several. With the release of their new debut album, “Drink the
Sea,” the trio forged into new artistic and creative territory. Comprised of edIT, Ooah
and Boreta, The Glitch Mob took the stage before 1:00am Memorial Day and straight tore the
roof off the Lightning Stage, well, if there was one. Now playing more focused than ever,
the trio ripped through a number of scorching songs off the new album, including “Bad
Wings” and “Drive It Like You Stole It,” sometimes on electronics, while others switching
to bass, guitar and drums. After debuting their new stage set up at Coachella with three
separate stations and the incorporation of live instruments and their iPad-like live music
gizmos, The Glitch Mob showcased a new-fangled sound driven on hard, precise beats and
enough energy to drive a crowd completely insane.
The set’s culmination and maybe the festival’s peak came in their ultra explosive
rendition of TV on the Radio’s “Red Dress,” a pure fire panty dropper. “Go ahead put your
red dress on” met robotic, glticy bass as edIT, Oaah and Boreta moved effortlessly as one,
concluding LIB and cementing it as a premier event in a premier setting put together by a
premier group of people.
JamBase | Lightning