Lightning in a Bottle | 05.28-05.30 | Irvine

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.

EOTO-10:45-Lightning Stage

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.

Kraddy-11:45-Bamboo Stage

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.


Luminaries-12:30pm-Lightning Stage

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 the shade.

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.

Ott-6:30-Lightning Stage

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-7:00-Bamboo Stage

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 beautiful, 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-9:30-Bamboo Stage

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.

MIMOSA-10:45-Bamboo Stage

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.

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[Published on: 6/12/10]

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