Arriving in Temecula late last Friday night with my uncoordinated arms juggling a tightly stuffed duffle bag, sleeping bag, yoga mat, and photography gear (only weaklings take multiple trips to the car), I clumsily stumbled into the campsite my friends had set up 45 minutes after parking thanks to a friendly, middle-aged festival attendee who was chilling in his RV and noticed my utter directional cluelessness.
As I dropped all my camping supplies in my friend’s tent, the slight uncertainty I felt about going to this festival began settling in. Seeing as how this festival’s emphasis on “burner” music/culture, yoga, vegan food, and eco-friendly everything is definitely marketed more toward super-über–ultra-liberal hippie types, I wasn’t sure how my open-minded-but-centrist, meat-adoring, and only slightly environmentally conscious self would handle Lightning in a Bottle.
After relieving myself of my camping supplies, I was finally able to take in all the madness that was Lightning in a Bottle unencumbered. Because my friends are basically the awesomest people alive, our campsite was conveniently set up next to the Do LaB’s Scrambled Eggs, an easy-to-spot, 60-foot-tall, whisk-shaped tower, which was also in the vicinity of the campground bazaar selling treasure troves of artisan-crafted clothing, jewelry, and other goods that I proceeded to squeal like a school girl over.
Laser Cut Wooden Lamps by Curious Customs
Since I arrived after all the music and yoga had wrapped for the day, I figured there wouldn’t be much left for me to see. WRONG. From a burlesque comedy show to a 3D blacklight experience, the after-hours possibilities are endless. My very much beloved Coachella Festival was thoroughly and decisively womped in this department by Lightning in a Bottle (no small feat).
My first full day of the festival kicked off at the press tent the following morning where I was treated to mimosas and an energetic set by The Herbert Bail Orchestra, whose sound can best be described as danceable Western folk. I had no idea what to expect going in, but they had fantastic energy and I’ve definitely got them on my band radar.
From there I got into the spirit of the festival by getting my face painted, sampling vegan Thai yellow curry (was actually legitimately tasty, not just “tasty for vegan food” tasty), watching an impromptu didgeridoo lesson, and taking a yoga class during which the most hilarious and passionate yoga instructor I’ve ever met lovingly bombed us with profanities (“feel that stretch and fucking BREATHE, bitches, BREATHE!”).
As the sun began to set, I made my way over to the main stage to catch Quixotic’s set. In the same vein as The Lucent Dossier Experience, who performed the previous night, Quixotic is an artist collective that includes musicians, acrobats, dancers, and filmmakers who come together to bring you a live music experience. Weaving violin strings, electronic beats, and performance art with shrewd deftness, Quixotic’s set was mesmerizing from start to finish.
Following Quixotic was William Close and the Earth Harp Collective. With strings that extended from a platform in the middle of the crowd to the top of the main stage, the Earth Harp is an architectural masterpiece of an instrument played by coating fingers in violin resin. Alongside it were the collective’s more traditional band instruments and vocalists that helped create a more complete sound. Fun fact learned from the Earth Harp: Pachelbel’s Canon in D mashes up nicely with U2’s “With Or Without You.”
I stuck around the main stage yet again for Nicolas Jaar’s deep house goodness. Although nowhere near as flashy as the acts before him, Jaar more than held his own. His set was expertly executed, riddled with some seriously sexy beats and build-ups, and downright awesome shit.
Following Nicolas Jaar, I wandered over to the Bamboo stage to catch the last set of the night from Detroit native GRiZ. I was immediately greeted by a high-energy, funk-laced set rife with strobes and lasers. After having a relatively mellow evening, GRiZ’s set was an explosive — and welcome — change of pace. By the end of it, I was sweaty, disheveled, and had a stupidly huge grin plastered across my melting face. P.S. If anyone has a copy of his remix of RJD2’s “Ghostwriter,” I want it. Badly.
At this point, the regularly scheduled musical programming was done for the night, but, as I discovered yesterday, there was still plenty of festival to be enjoyed after hours. I ran around a neon hippie wonderland lost in a world of rainbow-lit sculptures, stray flow toys, and artists with infinitely more artistic talent than I honing their crafts before my eyes.
I closed out my first night with my friends at Silent Frisco’s silent disco, dancing to some of the most bizarre mashups I’ve ever heard. Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place” and Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor”? So wrong and yet so right.