After two days of driving from the PNW, we finally made it to the magical land of Lightning in a Bottle in Bakersfield, CA! It’s hard to describe this fantasy of a festival, but we’re going to do our best to share all the things to explore.
We are still recovering from the lengthy fest and travel, so let’s dive right in and talk about all that goes on at LIB.
Wednesday – Arrival Day
Rolling into Bakersfield just before 3 pm, we didn’t have much of a wait to enter the campgrounds whatsoever. After picking up our passes pretty quickly at will call, we didn’t spend more than about 10 minutes in line before we were off to find a spot to set up camp. We decided upon the High Noon campgrounds as our ideal zone, which was a 5-minute walk from multiple entrances to the festival grounds.
After getting set up in the hot sun, it was time to take a rest and prepare to explore the first night of many. As sunset descended, we heard howling across the grounds in celebration of the festivities to come.
It was a little cooler after sundown, so we threw on a hoodie and headed in to see the festival setup. The main stages were still being set up, but the Junkyard, Martian Circus, The Compass, and Karaoke started us off with high energy.
We wandered throughout the grounds, checking out everything the welcoming night had to offer. There were all sorts of art installations and funky little stages that mesmerized us at first sight. We laid back in some of the kooky-styled sitting areas to take it all in.
After walking through as much as we could, we turned in for the night back at camp. Since there was so much going on inside it seemed to help to make the campgrounds quieter for sleep. With four more days coming our way, sleep was a must!
Thursday – Day 2
Like most summer festivals, we awoke in our hot tent ready to rinse off the dust from the night before. Luckily we weren’t far from the campground plaza with shower trailers.
After a nice rinse and some lunch, we set out to see the lake in the daytime. Lake Webb provides a nice cool-off spot for everyone during the hot hours of the day.
We walked through the various vendors and scooped up a new piece from Third Eye Pinecones to add to our ever-growing collection. They are one of our favorite vendors to see since they are PNW made! Materials are sourced from SoCal and produced in Bellingham, WA, and they set up vendor stalls at fests everywhere.
We went back to camp for another rinse (that dust is ruthless!), and to get ready for another night. When we got back inside, we found what quickly became another one of our favorite vendors, who sold large butterfly necklaces and other merchandise. Enchanted Wings Co. was another gem amongst the artistic beauty curated at this fest. Their team takes so much pride in their art and took the time to make our new pieces perfect for us.
These are just a few examples of the genuine love put into the variety of crafts showcased at this event. The amount of creativity and passion in so many different forms simply amazed us. Trust us, if we had the wallet to support it, we would’ve snagged something from every tent!
Another dreamy spot that stole our hearts was the Artclave, where several artists spent time creating live paintings throughout the fest. It’s wonderful to see a thorough representation of art forms in all sorts of media.
Thursday night brought us more music with The Stacks, Grand Artique, and Woogie stages coming to life. We started with Nala and LP Giobbi at the Woogie to get a proper fill of femme-house. Both of these talented women kept steady beats going for their deservingly larger crowds as the sun started to set.
The Oregon-raised LP Giobbi and her keyboard skills wowed us. It’s always amazing to see the ways certain artists put their creative twists on their productions. We got to watch her work it from a backstage view and it was a highlight of the day.
After boogying at the Woogie, we spent some more time wandering. As the sun began to set, the nighttime decor came to life once again. We couldn’t get enough of all the different lights, art cars, and quirky features that seemed to grow each day.
We caught a bit of PNW’s own Rob Noble at The Compass stage and were proud to see him bring his best. His unique style of DnB mixed with a melodic/downtempo sound had a great vibe, bringing us into the late-night hours.
Though there were still tons going on, we decided to turn in for the night to prepare for the rest of the weekend.
Friday – Day 3
Through another hot and dusty morning, we awoke more than ready for what today had in store. With all the main stages set to host big names, we had trouble deciding where to go first!
We took some extra time to chill at camp today to avoid spending too much time in the heat and to conserve some energy for the big sets to come. We decided to get ready for the day and head in just before Hamdi’s set at the Thunder stage.
Hamdi has been on the come-up, spending his time lately working with artists like Skrillex and Four Tet. As the last stop on his tour, we were hyped to see him throw down for LIB. He also released his highly anticipated track Counting that day, which made his Thunder set that much more electrifying.
The Thunder stage quickly became one of our top favorite places to be. It housed highlight artists and provided an awesome shade structure for the crowds. There was plenty of room to find a spot to sit when needed and was nestled into a wonderful spot to see the sunset from. We settled in here for a good while with many more explosive sets to come.
We had a big night at Thunder, with The Polish Ambassador, Deathpact, and Liquid Stranger all on the way.
It was our first time seeing The Polish Ambassador and he did not disappoint. With his mellow, groovy sound, we were immediately hypnotized by his craft. A beautiful performance that left us relaxed and reeling for more.
Up next was Deathpact, who has a mysterious vibe about him. He was off to a hot start, but we were pleased to see him pause for a medical emergency and place importance on crowd safety during a high energy kick off. We’re never sure what to expect from this masked essence; his set proved to be an interesting one for sure. From house-styled sound to his regular heavy bass hitters, the set was a crazy combo of genres.
Finally, it was time for one of our favorites, Liquid Stranger! Though we’ve seen him countless times, the anticipation for his sets never seems to cease. The visuals were something straight out of space and had the crowd instantly hooked. His set consisted mostly of his higher tempo sound but he sprinkled in the melodic and trippy drops along the way.
After dancing away the hours at Thunder, we used what little energy we had left to head to The Stacks stage.
If one Hamdi set wasn’t enough, he ended up as the surprise guest at The Stacks that night. With Hamdi on a real rise, it was a special treat to witness both amazing sets. He brought his signature UK style to LIB in a big way.
We wrapped up our night inside at about 3:30 AM but music amongst the smaller stages continued far beyond that.
Saturday – Day 4
You guessed it, another hot morning! Rinse, eat, and repeat until it’s time to get going yet again.
We aimed at being inside a bit earlier today to catch a set from Canabliss for some more space bass. Even though it was the hottest part of the day, we’re glad we got in for another fabulous female artist. She brought a phenomenal psychedelic sound of her own to the Thunder stage that got us grooving through the heat.
We took advantage of the festival’s free re-entry and went back to camp to cool off and refuel for the evening to come. After some rest and food we headed back to the Thunder stage yet again (we did say it was our favorite, after all).
We set our hearts on going back in for Zingara, another awesome lady. If you haven’t guessed a theme yet, we love us some trippy bass. She’s also an up-and-comer who’s been radiating across the space bass scene and it was the ideal next set for us after Canabliss. We kept our wavy vibes going with this wonky set and loved the dazzling visuals.
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We stayed at Thunder for hours that night. Wreckno put on a show with his spunky style, then The Floozies were super funky. The more “band” type genre of The Floozies was a cool twist from what Thunder had been hosting most of the day. Tokimonsta followed and brought back some classics and went all out for her return to LIB.
To add to our space bass addiction, it was time for Mersiv. The explosive use of visuals and lasers accompanied his insane sound and he totally threw down. He kept it pretty high tempo and heavy and it was an awesome energy. This was a super fun set to be on the dance floor for.
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We gathered ourselves and set out to make our way to the Lightning Stage for ZHU, but we got distracted by the amazing Fire Flow area on the way there. LIB has some seriously talented (and brave) fire flow artists that perform next to the lake every night and we couldn’t help but watch for a while.
We got over to Lightning about twenty minutes into ZHU’s hour-and-a-half set time. This was the biggest crowd we’d experienced yet. We stayed toward the back due to how crowded it was, but Zhu gave a great performance nonetheless. His vocals echoed across the grounds and the flashy vibes were on point. He brought a big production to the fest and it was worth it.
Running low on energy as the early morning hours went on, we went for a sit in the Artclave. Lo and behold, more music found us. We enjoyed a stellar set from an artist named Earthwave and it was just what we needed. The tribal-influenced bass inside a tent full of art was a dream.
We called it a night at around 4 AM knowing despite how badly we wanted to keep exploring, we needed to get some sleep.
Sunday – Day 5
The last day finally rolled around and we were up around 11 AM to get ready for Lightcode from LSDream. This cured our souls after a super late night and the set was full of emotion. At first, there were some tech hiccups with the sound, but the team stopped to adjust and played a perfect meditation set afterward.
We enjoyed our relaxing release and arose to explore during the day one last time. We went to admire the Giving Tree art car one more time, as it was a wonderful creation. It had swings and a slide and room to climb around inside. The art installation’s soft and lengthy vines adorned the entire thing and it was stunningly stimulating.
We landed back at camp around 2:30 PM to refuel and prepare for one last night. Thunder called us back in just before 6 PM for Daily Bread, some more of that wobbly space bass. It was our first chance to see Daily Bread and it surely wasn’t stale! His trippy downtempo style kicked us off for a great last day.
We walked around exploring the festival grounds before settling in for the night at Thunder. The Glitch Mob was up next for our must-sees. We’d been waiting a long time for a Glitch Mob set and it was nuts! They brought super high-energy DnB and the crowd loved it. They killed it and we’re grateful we finally got to see them.
It was time for LSDream again with his hypnotic trippy bass. We love the positivity he brings to the stage and the radiant creativity invested in his music and visuals. He put together a magical show for us and it was full of love. The crowd was the largest we’d seen at Thunder, but we had a feeling it was due to the sale of the Sunday-only tickets.
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We were glowing after LSDream’s shower of mystical vibes, but we headed towards the Lightning Stage to fall under the spell of Rezz. She had an enormous crowd and it was difficult to navigate at times, but it was a sick set to close us out. She played tons of classics as well as some of her more ominous repertoire.
As much as we wanted to keep it up for as long as we could on the last night, we had to listen to our bodies and turn in around 3 AM. Music continued for hours after we went to bed, but we were certainly listening from our tents savoring those last tunes.
That’s all for 2023!
Overall, we had a magical experience at Lightning in a Bottle and were amazed by the production put into the 20th Anniversary celebration. It was a seemingly never-ending land of wonder that we definitely want to return to again. All of the souls behind the creation of this glorious event deserve all the props, our hearts are singing. We found love in Bakersfield, and we’re so happy we got lost in the world of LIB!
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