[FESTIVAL/PHOTO RECAP] Why Lightning In A Bottle Is All About Connection

[FESTIVAL/PHOTO RECAP] Why Lightning In A Bottle Is All About Connection

[FESTIVAL/PHOTO RECAP] Why Lightning In A Bottle Is All About Connection


Saturday, 5:30pm. I was sitting in what was, for all intent and purposes, an early, 19th century burlesque speakeasy which would soon be filled with fire breathing man-eaters, sound-engineering clowns, students of fine arts, and revelry chasers – here to experience the surreal-ness that only late night Amori’s can bring. But for now I was surrounded by my colleagues – denizens of the West Coast festival circuit – chasing a story I knew I would never be able to fully comprehend or interpret. I asked anyway, searching for clues as to what I was searching for:

“What exactly is the story that Lightning In A Bottle is trying to tell?”


With some luck that question wouldn’t be met with a full serving of ambiguity – how can you really capture the stories of 30,000 individual experiences? “We don’t have one story. It’s too many different things. There is too much content out there and there are too many elements that make up the festival,” noted Dede Flemming, co-founder of The DoLab, the company responsible for putting on the expansive, now 5-day transformational festival.

I dug deeper and slowly the amalgamation of humanity, sound, art, self-expression, and personal discovery started to form the foundation of something absolutely real.

“It’s less about a driven agenda and more about an open container for people to have their own experiences,” offered Russell Ward, founder of LIB’s media handler, The Confluence. It’s the quintessential nature of the nurture – if you build it, they will come. But what is it just to come to a space such as Lightning In A Bottle, standing on the fringes of the late night Ecstatic Dance free-for-alls and wondering to yourself, “What if.” No, that isn’t it. To truly experience your story at LIB, you must come, and you must also connect.

And that, my dear readers, is where I found my story: Connecting with others, connecting with the planet, and, perhaps most importantly, connecting with myself.


Lightning In A Bottle is a 5-day music and arts festival that is spearheading, among others, a cultural shift in the way we come together to celebrate. Often dubbed “transformational”, these types of festivals carve out space not only for music, but for art, yoga, healing, workshops, cooking, drinking – a thousand other activities – but, ultimately, connecting.

Check out our full Lightning In A Bottle 2016 Photo Gallery below:

Often compared to festivals such as Burning Man, LIB has been described by Eamon Armstrong of Fest300 as itself a unique connector between mainstream festivals such as Coachella to the more counter cultural experiences that events such as the former have to offer. And indeed, you begin to see the haze clear as wide-eyed EDC regulars begin to connect the dots by weeks end, seeking further knowledge into exactly what it was that they just went through. (Where is Palo Santo from again? How does a Downward Dog go? Chakras?)


What’s amazing is that through the questions and experiences Lightning In A Bottle put us through and forces us to ask, we begin to understand more deeply the lives of those around us – strangers’ interests and perspectives become our own, and through this collective experience they are no longer strangers, but best friends and family. When you learn to create a friction fire with someone you have never met before, and you both nurse that first ember into a spark, the fire also lit within is something that becomes inextinguishable – a moment caught in time. A Lightning In A Bottle.

“The intention behind it [LIB] is to let people know that there are no limits. That they have to think outside the box, that they can follow their own path. Or, if you don’t know your path yet, you can learn some little tricks and pieces of offerings from all the people that are out here to help guide you along the way. There is so much out there.” -Dede Flemming, The DoLab

“The intention behind Lightning In A Bottle is to let people know that there are no limits.' -Dede FlemmingClick To Tweet

As I sat contemplating where this story would go, I kept returning to the music – the beautiful music that connects us all and brings us together to celebrate, mourn (RIP Pumpkin), dance, fuck, and let go. If there was any place where all of this was okay, Lightning In A Bottle would be it. I’ve always said that music has the ability to bring the world together, penetrating straight through our frontal cortex and laying bare our subconscious. Artists such as Lee Burridge, William Close and the Earth Harp, and Super Tall Paul make you want to turn to your neighbor – regardless of age, sexual orientation, skin color, or gender – give them a hug, laughing and crying it all out together. It doesn’t matter what’s happening back home, because at that moment in time you are exactly where you need to be.


Then, as with all things, the music came to an end. But even every ending has intention at Lightning In A Bottle, as we are reminded of our place on this planet with the help of the “Clean Up Song”. Everybody clean up is the name of the game, and it’s a continual reminder of the lengths LIB and The DoLab go to to promote the sustainable ethos of the event. Connecting with our planet is a pillar – perhaps unofficially – at LIB, and everywhere you turn there are initiatives which bring you closer to Mother Earth. Spiritually and physically – either through the Village’s Cultural Community Hubs or through the welcome shade of a tree branch shielding you from the blazing heat of midday sun – we were once again getting in touch with the planet we inhabit, whether we knew it or not.

As I finish my story for LIB 2016 I look toward the future. Where will my connections take me? Who will I meet as a result of those connections and what experiences will I face as an outcome? I can only look forward to the answers knowing that what I felt and those who felt it with me in the brief flash of time on that tiny speck of land in our vast universe, hold very dear to our hearts the true meaning of capturing Lightning In A Bottle.

'With love in our hearts and peace in our minds we can strive into a higher mankind.' -Street Feather ProjectClick To Tweet



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Kris Hi there! Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sights and Sounds. Been doing this music writing thing for most my life in one way or another and loving every opportunity it's brought along. Shoot me an email if you have any suggestions for the website, comments, or if you just want to chat. Cheers!