We Came To Dance: Lightning In A Bottle 2016

first_imgPantyraid closed out Thunder Stage with a celebratory set of revelry. Heavy on tracks from hot-off-the-press After Glow, Ooah and MartyParty returned to LIB and shut down the bass music church with an updated steez. New joints like “With You” and “Wanting Moves” pumped the Funktion 1 subs proper, and the blood-rush lust of “Nights” was unrestricted rage. A rowdy bi-coastal collaboration from cities angelic and magical, the duo dropped their revered bounce amid a stage teeming with booty, as Do LaB family celebrated their undeniable victory.  PRSN to close LIB at the Pagoda Bar was a stroke of pure genius. The exquisite producer out of Portland, OR by way of Reno, NV brings the booms and claps something serious; on this night he was at his absolute finest. This is the new dancehall paradigm; furious, unhinged ragga-grooves rewired by a crunkalogic scientist. Bryce Lowell lead the excursions to sweaty, Kingston tombs of boomshot glory; forwards juxtaposed with ill hip-hop remixes. All of it soaked in mad-futuristic 808 rumble, with a dash of juke and footwork. Lowell was adept at mixing sublime, sensual downtempo dripping weird and wobbly bass, with inklings of Trap and Dub.; An amalgam of many styles, and defiant in his own dopeness, PRSN delivered a sayanora set of domineering decadence.   We came to dance. [Photos by Jacob Avanzato] Love the Wild Wild West? Stop by The Grand Artique, located in Frontierville, a fictional Gold-Rush town that included a fully immersive Trading Post/General Store, a bombed out hotel and saloon, gypsy encampment, and music stage filled with idiosyncratic bands and performance artists. Need to relax and recharge while enjoying a laugh? Try the Highlove Vitality Lounge and Elixir Bar, where one could sip on a futuristic blend of healthy beverages and take in a variety of Vaudeville performances and crazy clowns. If you had a hankering for sexy shenanigans and jaw-dropping burlesque vixens, Amori’s Casino and Burlesque was the late night hotspot. Off the beaten Woogie Stage path was the Lightning Inn, an engrossing, improv wonderland of psychedelic, sensory overload.   An effective culture experiment based on a shared aspiration to create and explore village life, I’d be remiss if I didn’t show love and respect to The Village. The cooperative encampment hosted the Permaculture Action Network Hub, Sacred Fire, Ancestral Arts, Witch’s Hut, Mentor Zone, and Essential Oils Learning Lab, and so much more between the teepees. The most heavily shaded area on the festival grounds, The Village offered relaxation and respite from the punishing mid-afternoon temperatures. By proxy, some of the most rewarding human interactions took place there, as large swaths congregated every day to beat the heat. Beginning with Wednesday’s Permaculture Action Day facilitated by ActionDays.us, I stopped through the Village each day, gifted with a tangible takeaway with every visit.   The multitudinous interactive experiences were a carnivals and circuses unto themselves; a few favorites included the Do-Over Barber Shop, a freewheeling Soapbox Derby, Renegade Bowling, and Mega Ski-Ball. Equally magnanimous were the Lost Hotel, an ornate shrine The Long House, and the Archival Ink Gallery. Copious amounts of silliness, psychedelia, sordid satire, and salacious, shit-eating grins were among the main components of the wild, wacky, weird, and unexplainable.   And then there were the stages, giant, gorgeous art installations. The humongous and arresting Lightning Stage served as the main event space, just across the bridge (after customary high-fives en route) was a hulking church of bass called the Thunder Stage. Between the two was another cafeteria in crunk, Pagoda Bar. The Grand Artique stage hosted music for more hours than any other. The famed and fabulous Woogie Stage was headquarters for the techno and house crowds. Yet the flyest scene of all, and the real place for booty and bpms was the smashing Favela Bar. This remarkable re-creation of an Rio Di Janeiro slum was easily this writer’s favorite LIB musical environs. Patricio curates the swanky, smoking card for the finest in Deep House and Playa-Tech, and the dance sessions are furious and funky, good spirited revelry, and nobody is too cool for school.  Nearly every time heading to the Woogie Stage, I’d end up at Favela Bar instead, it was just too good to pass by. The Do LaB lives for live music, too. The LIB lineup is consistently the creme de la creme, each and every year; a diverse palette of electronic and indie artists that runs the gamut.  The cutting edge, the avant garde, and the next big things; LIB 2016 boasted a particularly strong menu of music, going across the six main stages and into renegade parties, Ecstatic Dances inside yoga domes, and beyond. For all the phenomenal performances I took in, I missed even more- the mark of a tremendous event.Lightning in a Bottle 2016: The Music. WEDNESDAY   Frontierville, home to the living, breathing anachronism that is The Grand Artique, would be the site of embarkation. Hailing from Seattle, Bootleg Sunshine was a quirky four-piece fiddle-band to start things off, specializing in new-grass mountain music. In ironic admiration for the Golden State, Bootleg Sunshine paid homage to Cali with one of it’s most treasured folk songs, Dr. Dre’s seminal humble-brag “Still D.R.E.” As far as leveling up, and stepping into the weekend’s interdimensional dance vortex, DJ Dakini set it off type proper at the Temple of Consciousness. The Austrailian’s mixture of Ancient Future Bass and Global Downtempo infused the dance during her two hour traverse through shamanic soundscapes. THURSDAY  After a day getting schooled and cooled in The Village, the Temple was again the scene with vibrations most elevated, as Dragonfly returned to the decks with an emotional journey through Future House and Global Bass transmissions. A pillar of this extended festival community, Martin Andrew recently announced that he is battling cancer, and though it took a tremendous, valiant effort to summon the strength required to travel to and perform, he went on to deliver a most triumphant set; fans and friends rallied around his music just as they have his cause. A giant among men, Dragonfly’s opus reminded that life is precious, that we are in this together, one nation under the groove.  Nico Luminous got things poppin’ around sunset at the Pagoda Bar, which provided a luscious view of the sun racing down the horizon. Luminous provided some sensual seduction in the form of a choice edit of Erykah Badu’s hit “On and On.” Soundpiece bossman BOGL, holding it down for the Bay Area, delivered bass music of all kinds, and we were recipients of his good fortune. Amid the plethora of dark-Trap, crunk-bass technicians that would grace the Pagoda Bar and Thunder stages, BOGL left the most brutal brand on the brainwaves. Chris B. dipped into a set of high-energy bass bombast, rippling with glitchy hip-hop. Sugarpill closed out the Pagoda Bar for the night by providing a hefty sampling of polytemponic, melodocrunky style, a roaring remix of The Diplomats’ Harlem classic “Dipset Anthem” sending people into a dithers.  FRIDAY Hailing from Toulouse, France, emerging star CloZee leveled the Thunder Stage mid-afternoon on Friday. An ethno-fusion of Post-Glitch and World Bass with a refined touch beyond her short time on the scene, Ms. Chloe dropped a progressive narrative rich in worldly affectations and interesting instrumentation. CloZee played mostly originals, slipped in material from the excellent Revolution: Remixes release, as well as recent Sinking EP with Scarfinger. A whirlwind saga and kaleidescope of sonic color, CloZee was joined by flow artist extraordinaires, and in short order, the Do LaB dream was in full bloom.  Emancipator Ensemble‘s sumptuous sunset session on the Lightning Stage was scheduling genius. The quartet provided a stirring stroll through orchestral, downtempo rapture. “Diamonds” saw violinist Ilya Goldberg soar atop the meditative thump of focused drummer Colby Buckner.  “Lionheart” found producer/composer and birthday boy Doug Appling strapping on a guitar. Quintessential Emancipator material like “When I Go” and “Valhalla” were uncovered in delicate, precision execution. Arriving at the tear-jerking, ambrosial “Anthem,” from Appling’s 2006 debut Soon it Will Be Cold Enough to Build Fires, the sun was dashing out of sight, and there was a collective cry, savoring this stillness in time.     Platinum-blonde punk rock ratchet-grrrl Laura Low showed up at Pagoda Bar just after 10pm, ready to rumble. DJ Laura’s deep, hyphy 808s underneath heavy-duty, rolling melodic dub made for a raucous energy and spastic dancefloor. As she built the virility to stout proportions, Low dropped a titanic “Tom Ford” (Jay-Z), and the Timbaland-trap ignited the crowd in a sea of disorderly conduct. Immediately following, The Polish Ambassador threw a onesie party on the Thunder Stage. The Jumpsuited One uncorked a series of globalized, uptempo dance jams that captivated an enormous audience. A smattering of unreleased music was interspersed with material from the recent LP Dreaming of an Old Tomorrow, and even reached back to Ecozoic. TPA partied with a purpose, in lockstep with the teeming masses; though some were wishing for a bit of the old-school martian glitch that made many an ample mammal first fall in love with the foreign diplomat. Onward the venture took us to the Lightning Stage, where William Close and the Earth Harp Collective were levitating near the midnight hour, forcing the floodgates open with gushing, symphonius movements under a twinkling, moonlit sky.  Meanwhile at Favela Bar, revelers were being treated to a choice, streamlined set from San Francisco house music queen Rachel Torro. She captained a fuming menagerie, and took the journey inwards with minimalist, deep and tech styles, all revealed with more than just a touch of class. Late into the night in the eclectic confines of The Village, Brian Hartman and Nadi were also going deep. Nevada City, CA was having it’s own shindig hidden among a dozen others simultaneously bubbling across the festival. Nadi’s birthday soiree contained some of the warmest vibes felt on these hallowed grounds all weekend. The coziness of The Village dance-floor and familial faces bonding in boogie-bliss made for a feverish homecoming all night long, until the village elders finally pulled the plug.Holding down LIB for several years strong, Los Angeles womp-wizard GoldRush pioneered a genre-tweaking romance revolution, the aptly-coined Lovestep. Rugged, feverish riddims and torrid, alien-bass tones swallowed the Pagoda Bar just before 3am; throngs of lovers spilled out in a ballet of temple-twerk. A smart spin on post-Dubstep, post-Trap gone Hollywood hood; these were confessions at the Church of Spirit-Trill. BenLloyd Goldstein’s inner thug-hippie was on swole, and his enthusiasm contagious as the DJ sang, emceed, and continuously programmed the some of the toughest drums heard all week. He was a blur of hands twirling atop a futuristic alchemy of weird bass, whiz-kid 808s, and swaggering, erogenous ethos. Highlights included his remix of Trina and Lil Wayne’s seminal kiss-off “Don’t Trip” (“Do Trip”), “We are the Soil”, and a juicy Little Dragon edit.  “Closer”, “Find Me,” and Delilah’s “Go” were lusty, carnalized temples of boom.   SATURDAYAmong the most anticipated parties at LIB 2016, Music is 4 Lovers “Fat Bitch and the Booty Bass Sunset Spanking,” went all afternoon on a steamy Saturday. The Lovelife crew blessed the jubilant massive with five-plus hours of sunshine daydream, ringing in the sunset at the unparalleled Favela Bar with panache. The dynamic duo of DADON and Jimbo James rendered a tour de force in Deep and Disco-House, piling on funky, swanky grooves without mercy and nary a fuck given. Jon Dadon was lacing up blistering percussion rhythms with his bare hands, compliments of the Roland Handsonic 10. The all-day b2b powwow (with a guest spot from Justin Jay) was a masterful display of  ‘move the crowd’; clearly the tandem was enjoying the festivities as much as we were. Evidence: DADON threw down a thumping “Miss You” (Rolling Stones) that induced spastic hooting from a boisterously jamming posse. Jimbo saw his Stones, and raised him Steely, murdering the game with a big debut, in the form of “Peg”, Steely Dan’s immortal Michael McDonald holler. This SoCal get-down was a spanking worth the hide, booty bass in blueprint blue, and the Favela Bar responded accordingly on the dance floor. Betwixt the populous electronic offerings, there were diamonds in the rough in terms of good ole-fashioned bands onstage, especially at The Grand Artique. The Pimps of Joytime, representing Brooklyn and championing NOLA to the fullest, pulled into Frontierville toting a truckload of swagger. Gracing the stage for the Saturday sunset into the night, this fearsome foursome led by Brian J. unloaded a panacea of funky dance grooves with a distinctive Second Line shimmy. All-timer “Janxta Funk” was its usual snaking, swervy seduction, while the soon-to-be-released “Cut Off (remix)” was a redolent rave that mixed the best in organic electronica with some proper Paisley Park. Later at the Temple, Ryan Herr, Jesse Hendricks, and Craig Kohland offered a welcome respite from a festival swimming in bass. Their cogent compound of acoustic music employed a styles indigenous and rhythms traditional, by way of delicate  instrumentation. The trio coalesced into a gumbo of melodies; the driving, vibrant songcraft calling to corners of the globe.  Arriving at Jamie xx relatively unawares of what was to come, I planned on checking out a few tunes before moving onward to another stage. The next ninety minutes of stunning artistic glory enveloped the largest crowd of the weekend, and leaving was simply not an option. Opening with “Gosh,” and delivering the xx anthem “Crystallized,” in short order the stage was set for a multi-hued expedition. Mr. Smith took us on a lengthy, sexy, soaring and sauntering ride. Bathing in plumes of smoke and regal white light, showering in a glistening disco ball, the visceral visuals were the classiest accoutrement of this entire event. Soaking in the swelling emotions and steady build of “Loud Places” among ten thousand peaking lovers was something of a lucid dream. The exquisite, cerebral set sprawled out in a expanse of bass bump, minimalist Disco-House, and a winding, fiery Techno migration. In a show of pure gusto and genuine reverence, Jamie xx dropped original sample sources (Idris Muhammad, The Persuasions) before segueing into prodigious In Colour material culled from their seminal records.SUNDAY Already beaten by the sun and nearly three days on the go, it took tremendous intestinal fortitude to set about the last leg of this adventure in toy-land. However, the final day of LIB was the stuff that musical dreams are made of; from breakfast through the wee hours, there was a monumental menu of delectable options. Sunday started on a somber, yet celebratory note at the Woogie. A sizable, emotional contingent of fans, friends, and merry-makers came together to send off Pumpkin, the iconic, beloved West Coast DJ who tragically passed away in late March. As tears fell and two-handed hearts shined, stories, laughs, and shenanigans were shared in the name of Nicholas Alvarado. A selection of his homies and favorite DJs spun a collaborative set of music that heckled toward the heavens, with a red clown nose and Cheshire grin.British Columbia’s shamanic-bass phenom aTYya sparked the Sunday fuse at Thunder Stage, the hot, dry and dusty noon slot perplexing and challenging for both the artist and fan. Focused and fearless, Tyy Clark proceeded to transmit mysterious, minimalist ritual bass most effectively. Curating vibe with newer selections steadfastly dripping in murky textures, aTYya utilized sparse percussion economy within his gooey, sulty productions, The ceremony in visionary nectar was brought to steamy conclusion with a libidinous take on Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat”.  HÄANA took the stage immediately following aTYya, though in reality she was omnipresent. Miss Thiem appeared seemingly everywhere; be it onstage, roaming the festival grounds, or losing herself in the dance front and center. This radiant ginger was a glistening spirit of this gathering;  HÄANA proved herself a mystifying, magnetizing maiden. She first appeared with a meditative Deep Sonos set in the Temple under the Friday moon; by Sunday, the full breadth of her alter ego was revealed. Clad in bejeweled, ornate black and gold, HÄANA emerged with magical, shapeshifting elegance. Middle Eastern and orchestral Nordic flourishes abound, this was high brow, mature femtronica. Case in point: a captivating, weeping reimagining of Massive Attack’s forever jam “Teardrop.” HÄANA would twice return to this epic Thunder landscape; in mirages of white light with Desert Dwellers Live Experience, then summoning the moon’s shadows with Dimond Saints. The “Game Changer” Lafa Taylor provided the fun-zone for B-boys and B-girls to get loose in the afternoon sun of the Lightning Stage. Augmented by a prodigiously talented break dance crew, Taylor showed and proved with a wide variety of this singer/songwriter/emcee/DJ’s chameleonic offerings. The feel-good set was chock full of monster 808 breaks, fresh rhymes, titanic Trap-drops, and sing-along choruses galore. Lafa threw down double-time Medium Troy (“Out Here” and “Sweetest Thing”), the infectious new joint “Tokyo Trap”, and a couple of songs from Feel, his forthcoming collaboration with Aabo. Lafa Taylor is a mega-star in the making, and it’s only a matter of time before mainstream America finds out what is hip.Mid-afternoon, the mighty Thriftworks at the Thunder Stage was a phantasmagoric voyage to the netherworlds of psychedelic bass music. A hip hop head, Bay Area by way of Pennsylvania, Jake Atlas came at it chopped and screwed, project blowed and elbows throw’d. Thrifty dropped several gems from the recent Low Speed High Drag, like the lush, atmospheric blending of colors within “Juanitos Presence.” The spine-tingling, frontal-lobe massage continued with a series of jams from a trifecta of albums released last year, Fade, Fader, and Fadest. Late in this diabolical dosage of Dilla-on-Acid mindfuckery, a warbled, Shaolin-drunken-monkey edit of the timeless “Greenie Beanies” materialized, as did the sinister “Terry,” and a slithery “The Touch.” The straight alien-gangster musique of “Untrue” was a whaleback joyride on the wayback machine.  By the time “Feeding Time” and an infernal “Terminally Chill” had coagulated our collective consciousness, Thriftworks had effectively decimated the gasping massive. It is safe to assume that any and all life-forms at the Thunder Stage required a moment to breath, and carefully set a foot back on terra firma; this performance was proof that Mr. Atlas’s lysergic space vessel does not trek along on a flat earth’s surface.  Happy hour at the Lightning Stage, The Russ Liquid Test was a revelation. The best in live-band dance-music synergy, the trio’s synth-driven electro-funk was a gargantuan sound. Russ Liquid led the charge on trumpet, sax, synths, and programming, conductor of this swaggadelic runaway train. NOLA guitarist Andrew Block could be found comping in the kill zone, smooth as butta on the hollow body electric, with a sharp mod haircut straight outta Argentina. For seventy five minutes, drummer Nick Mercadel was a metronome of focused authority, tip-toeing high hats atop thunderous kick drum thump. The fatback funk grooves, bathing in analog synth, recalled ZAPP, The Time, and early Rick James; and the natives were restless.  Meanwhile back at Favela Bar, Brian Hartman dropped two hours of world-fusion house, dub cumbia, and nectarious panty-droppers to an ever-growing audience that lapped it up amid the hanging laundry blowing in the 5 o’clock breeze. The HeartBass chief operating officer is riding an upward trajectory of mammoth proportions, as the people are picking up what Hartman is putting down, like the jubilant “Pinky (Monkey Safari remix)” by Zombie Disco Squad.  Stay tuned for HeartBass world domination, coming to a love den and  speaker stack near you.  Zach Walker of the playa’s Pink Mammoth crew also went deep, bringing potent, lurid house vibes as the Favela night wore on, before handing off to Saand, The Music is 4 Lovers selectah launched the deep-house spacecraft into the starry sky, with melancholic stories aimed straight for your wide-open heart chakra, whipping dancers into an emotional frenzy.  Among the most anticipated sets of LIB 2016, Oakland’s enigmatic Dimond Saints would deliver in Empyrean fashion. Unveiling a seven piece live-ensemble that included a tuba player, trombonist, HÄANA on violin, vocalist Yarroahs, and Sica on Tycho drum, antennae and Releece channeled the heart of darkness just after dusk. The theme was shanti-ratchet gone Gotham City, an aesthetic its own brand of occultish post-trap sexy. For their third consecutive LIB appearance, they dished a classic handfuls of 808s swimming in heartbreak, but primarily focused on newer prismatic endeavors. Early on, their arrangement of Lorde’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Tears for Fears) cover set an ominous and malevolent tone: the leviathan, descending brass bass line following an anthemic chorus was Armageddon. A teeming, sweaty, fatigued and invigorated dancefloor exploded in throbbing, untamed sexuality. “Your Friends” (Lemon) was its usual dose of intravenous eroticism, “Smokestacks”(LAYLA) the definition of epic. The set reached its apex with a haunting, trance-inducing “Brym Al Mar” remix, a HÄANA single given the now-patented shigetsu treatment. As macabre chants rose from the serpentine groove, the elegant empress stepped to the front of the stage with violin, and serenaded the moment with crystallized melody. A hunter’s moon had risen, these masked mavens steering ship to shore with select numbers from their forthcoming full-length LP Prism in the Dark. Culminating in defiant crooning on “IDGAF” from the cabalistic Yarroahs, Dimond Saints succeeded in ambition; they upped their own ante for what really hot- in the streets, and between the sheets. Lightning in a Bottle is not merely a music festival, but instead an unparalleled gathering where people congregate to experience open-minded community, and concepts for living a brighter tomorrow.  The instructions are quite simple, and the LIB Thrive Guide says it best: “Lead by example. Pack it In and Pack it Out. Honor the land. Respect others and their journey. Practice good citizenship. Own your actions. Go above and beyond.”LIB is unique for each person who attends the affair; no two LIBs are the same. Some focus on seminars and workshops, listening to ideas and inspirations from a cavalcade of gurus, experts, healers and leaders. Others seek out the litany of visionary installations and collaborative art projects evolving each year. People go to LIB for the diversified yoga programs, the learning kitchen, the spirituality, the tea houses, the improv troupes, the fashion, and the dozens of thriving subcultures. Families, loners, and longtime festival crews come back to LIB to experience what is among the most engaging, socially conscious, and interactive music festivals on the planet. The word “transformational” is thrown around a lot these days, but there is no irony, sarcasm, or tongue planted in cheek here; Lightning in a Bottle is a life affirming endeavor that can fundamentally change somebody, if they are willing and able to surrender to the flow.  Los Angeles-based artist collective The Do LaB is the production team behind this mammoth undertaking. Now in its third year in Bradley, CA, they have discovered what appears to be a permanent home for LIB at Lake San Antonio, smack dab between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The sprawling grounds are made up of several peninsulas that surround a dried-out lake bed, offering a voluminous plateau for the dusty, sweaty, arduous four day event. For the first time in its history, Lightning in a Bottle tickets sold out in advance, and reports had over 25,000 people attending over Memorial Day weekend. After a few years of the festival wandering nomadically through different locations throughout Central and Southern California, LIB is blessed to have contractually secured this property for a handful of years to come. Since its inception in the early 2000s, LIB has been a flagship for West Coast transformational culture, a beacon of light that distinguishes itself from a Bonnaroo or Coachella with clear intention and focus on education, communication, ceremony, pageantry, spirituality, visionary art, and self-improvement. One must acknowledge the top-shelf musical lineup, yet you could dive into LIB full force without even making your way to any of the main stage areas.  The abundance of workshops, speakers and classes available are worthy of its own feature article; the same could be said for LIB’s world-class yoga itinerary, the global cadre of painters, builders, scientists and artists. LIB boasts a veritable shopping mall of eclectic vending, a bizarre bazaar unlike any other this writer has seen.  LIB also espouses a Leave No Trace mantra, meaning that if you bring it with you, you take it home. It is an ambitious, righteous endeavor to change festival modus operandi. A chiding, Do LaB clean-up song blares over the speakers at the end of each day of music, and people are encouraged to leave the grounds better than how they found them. Sadly, despite the best intentions and exemplary efforts of the festival, The Do LaB, and two-thirds of the patrons, by the looks of things leaving LIB 2016, Leave No Trace remains a work in progress. Lightning in a Bottle is supreme in its embracing of the new festival paradigm. One could stop by either the Temple of Consciousness or Healing Sanctuary for a meditation, an ear to listen, an infusion of love, friendship, or compassion. These domiciles were  host to various forms of raw, unfettered human interaction. You need not step into those specific facilities to experience LIB fantasy-turned-reality. For sunrise gazing, picturesque sunsets, shady mid-day naps, and more open communication and connection, Meditation Lookout was a breezy hang with pillows strewn about, atop a tree-lined hillside.  last_img read more