FESTIVAL INSIGHT: Lightning in a Bottle, A Truly Transformational Experience
Written By: Devin Carillo
This past Memorial Day weekend something incredible happened, something almost indescribable. The Do LaB’s sold out Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) came to Bradley, California for an expanded 5 days of music, art, spirituality and outright insanity. New this year was an added day to encourage guests to settle early, meet their fellow neighbors and interact in a more intimate setting. Also new to LIB was their Harm Reduction initiative with partners, DanceSafe, MAPS’ Zendo Project, and the lovely PLUR Angels.
Lightning in a Bottle is a rollercoaster of transcendent experiences. Through the junction of music, art and connectivity the Do LaB is creating more than just a festival - they are introducing a one-of-a kind transformational experience to a growing community, far and wide. Taken from their love and appreciation for the community at Burning Man, co-founders of the Do LaB and brothers Dede, Josh and Jesse Flemming, along with Dream Rockwell (Creative Director for Lucent Dossier Experience have created a revolutionary festival that is almost like a city in itself. Dede, the business-mind behind the Do LaB said in a press conference at LIB, “Whatever you need to run a city, we have here.”
The community LIB brings to light is one of spirituality, connectivity, and centeredness. Not only can you hear performances by chart topping electronic artists (all sub-genres combined); in a single day you can be enlightened by a real-life Guru, you can learn how to make Kombucha tea, you can play a giant game of skeeball, you can taste organic teas from the Himalayas, and you can even catch an early morning theatrical burlesque show. But most importantly, what LIB delivers is a chance to disconnect from the desensitization of American culture and to become fully centered in a spiritual and unforgettable transformational journey with thousands of others at your side.
LIB internalizes a great deal from the Burning Man Organization. At the press conference Dede recalled, “it all really goes back to Burning Man, which opened all of our eyes to something completely new and different and kind of taught us that there are no rules, there are no limits.”
As techno-queen Francesca Lombardo mentioned in an interview, Burning Man is a monster of a festival - it is an out of this world experience in an environment like no other. But, taken from the Burner community is the same spirit that unites festival-goers from around the world, which the LIB producers work year-round to ensue.
When talking candidly to long-time friend of the Flemming brothers and Human Resources Coordinator at the Burning Man Organization, Karen Jacobs a.k.a KJ, touched on the merger of business and community at transformational festivals like Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle. Although both respected festivals are a business and both need funds to operate, they each have the same intent - to share the same transcendent experience each festival creator once had at Burning Man, many years ago. Now, the only evolving factor is the scale of the vehicle - as music festival popularity grows, the creators of Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle now have a larger audience and medium to express their respected transcendent experience.
The Flemming brothers, in short, truly want each and every DoLaB festivalgoer to have an unforgettable experience with strangers and loved-ones, combined. When asked about their vision for LIB’s potential growth Dede said, “it’s more of a movement than a festival… We’re not going after a magic number or a certain size… It’s about exposing this type of event and this type of culture and this type of mentality to as many people as possible.” But with exponential growth of the electronic dance music (EDM) movement, the LIB community is growing, and with growth comes setbacks. Of these setbacks, the most influential is the merger of business and community within the transformational festival world, which K.J. rightfully brought up.
To explain this, Dede touched on the resources and year-round effort it takes to create a successful Lightning in a Bottle. “You know, you don’t want to charge an extra dollar for a bag of ice because you know a bag of ice doesn’t cost that much. But, you have to... The tickets at Lightning in a Bottle, they don’t pay for the festival we create… you have to go after the little things to try and actually make it a viable, sustainable source to make a living. And you know, hundreds of people rely on us to make a paycheck and that’s something we’re incredibly proud of… The business thing, we don’t shy away from. It’s a business. It is what it is. But, we get to take that energy and put it toward something creative.”
The DoLaB’s vehicle to ignite inspiration, creativity, and transformation is growing, both as a business, and as a commodity. Although the DoLaB must at times focus on tender business objectives, their end goal - to ignite the same transformational experience they once had at Burning Man many years ago – is successfully met each year, over and over again. While some may point at the business aspect of the festival industry as corrupt and unruly, the DoLaB is wholeheartedly facilitating transformation and growth among thousands of attendees each year at Lightning in a Bottle, and thus sets them apart from the average festival producer.
As some festival producers are crippled by the business aspect of the modern day festival movement and have, in turn, lost their way to become a profit-driven marketplace for advertisements and mainstream influence, LIB’s producers are working to retrieve the music festival’s original intent – connectivity, togetherness, and appreciation.
The Flemming brothers and their DoLaB family have a vibrant time ahead of them. Not only are they leading the pack in high quality live art production, they are changing the way we experience and perceive life’s journeys, which, most festival producers are so quick to disregard.
And for more LIB craziness from this year’s edition of the festival, check out the aftermovie here: