Lightning In A Bottle 2016 Recap

Deep down into the city of Bradley, California lies the San Antonio Recreation Area. A beautiful landscape for which over 25,000 people camped over Memorial Day Weekend for the transformational festival, Lightning In A Bottle. The festival essentially created it’s own community bringing amazing people together for music, art, workshops, yoga, and a whole bunch more. This year’s festival brought together a massive lineup of artists across three main stages know as the Thunder, Lightning, and Woogie. In addition, Lightning In A Bottle creates immersive environments with their incredible art installations and smaller stages known as the Favela Bar, Pagoda Bar, and The Grand Artique.

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This year, Lighting In A Bottle extended their festival by one day for those who purchased an early arrival pass. This gave people a chance to set up camp on Wednesday and get prime spots before the standard arrival on Thursday. My group and I arrived Thursday morning, and camp grounds surrounding the festival were already filling up very quickly. Festival-goers had the option of purchasing car camping or parking off to the side and walking to camp. For those looking to go next year, we 100% recommend getting a car camping pass. Carrying all your stuff across the festival grounds is not a fun way to start the festival.

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After setting up camp and meeting all of our awesome neighbors, we spent Thursday exploring and getting familiar with the festival grounds. The festival is pretty massive with bridges connecting all of the main different areas. Tents are set up all throughout the festival, which have daily classes for yoga and meditation as well as workshops for cooking, crafts, and sustainability. The festival has a large marketplace with a ton of different vendors who sell some really beautiful hand-crafted art, clothing, and tapestries. We made sure to make all our purchases before some of the one-of-a-kind items were sold out. As soon as the day turned to night we made our way to the Favela Bar to catch Diva Danielle. Her set was filled with high energy beats creating an awesome dance party. Festival-goers with LED hulahoops, poi, and levitation wands filled the sides of the bar creating cool visuals with their amazing flow art. Walking around and taking in all of the beautiful elements of Lightning in a Bottle on the first night was amazing in itself.

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We woke up early Friday morning to explore the festival even more. There are so many things happening throughout the festival that it is impossible to experience it all. We started off the day with a visit to Frontierville, which has a live music stage, trading post, and hotel. This was definitely one of our favorite areas of the festival because you truly felt immersed into a totally different world. Our next stop was the Woogie to catch Sacha Robotti. He ended up playing an extended set with a huge crowd of people grooving from start to finish. While the heat was pretty unforgiving, the Woogie sprayed mist into the crowd from different sections of the stage to cool everyone off. Later that night, we set our sites on Mija, Big Gigantic, and William Close & the Earth Harp Coll. before closing the night with Grimes. Mija killed it with a bass-fueled set that included everything from vibey elements to dubstep. Big Gigantic played a fun-filled set with their live instruments, opening with huge saxophone solo. William Close & the Earth Harp Coll brought a massive harp, one of the longest playable stringed instruments in the world, and played a truly amazing performance.

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On Saturday, we made our way to the Yoga Om tent for some early morning yoga. This was our first time trying and one of the best experiences to start off the day. Meditation classes were held right next door, and while we didn’t take part, watching was enough to really give you the feels. After, we made our way into The Lucent Temple of Consciousness, an area to listen and learn from wisdom keepers, teachers, and healers. We sat on the floor, opened our minds and stayed for a spirituality talk, which no doubt left us with a better state of mind. The teachings you learn from this tent are meaningful and can really help you in the real world.  Later Saturday night, we noticed a dance party going on at the Yoga Om tent, and we couldn’t help but flip our shoes off and join in on the fun. Our favorite performances came from by Autograf, Hayden James, The Librarian, Haywyre, and Jaime xx. The night was filled with banging beatz and the production on the Thunder and Lightning stage were incredible. Large LED screens and a ton lasers shot over the crowds, which created amazing visuals during the dark night sky.

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Sunday was our last full day, so we took the time to explore the full festival grounds once again. Although tired and ready for a nap, we took Sunday to fully appreciate all the amazing aspects of Lightning in a Bottle. It’s the small things that really make a difference such as hammocks, swings, and gazebos set up for people to chill on. Later, we made our way back to all three main stages to catch performances by Jonas Rathsman, EPROM, Mr. Carmack, Moderat, and Chet Faker. For Sunday night dinner, we were fortunate enough to attend one of LiB’s fancy sit down dinners called The Last Supper. We sat in a tent with about 50 other people and were treated to a healthy feast of Peruvian and Argentinian cooking. The hosts sang songs and performers walked through the tent making the dinner almost a live show within itself. This was the best way the end our LiB experience and we’d definitely recommend you try it if you can next year!

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One of the best things you can take away from Lightning in a Bottle isn’t just the music, but the amazing people. The festival is full of kind-heared, like-minded people, who are truly interested in learning to expand their mind and have a greater appreciation for the world. From your campsite neighbors, to staff, artists, teachers, and performers, there are so many incredible people you’ll meet that may end up becoming lifelong friendships. In a world with so much hatred going on, there is so much more love to be found. Lightning in a Bottle is truly an experience unlike any other and definitely our favorite transformational festival. This is something we recommended everyone should experience at least once and you can bet you’ll see us back next year!

Lightning in a Bottle: Facebook | Twitter

Cover photo by Eric Allen
All other photos by Jacob Avanzato


Matt Flaherty
Founder of Drop The Beatz

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