This year’s Lightning in a Bottle at Buena Vista Lake in Southern California took place during Memorial weekend, May 24-29, 2023. Unfortunately for me, BottleRock in Napa was happening the same weekend. I decided to cover Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival instead of BottleRock Music Festival. This was a hard choice because I’ve covered Bottle Rock consistently for the last 10 years. (So much so that multiple people texted me to find out if I would be in Napa this year.) However, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to check out LIB for the first time.
LIB Music Festival runs from Wednesday to Monday over the Memorial Day weekend. However, those of us with 9 to 5 jobs to cover our rock ‘n’ roll lifestyles can’t run off to music festivals mid-week. I made plans to arrive on Friday eve after work. However, as I learned the hard way, it is VERY hard to drive from San Francisco to LIB in Bakersfield after work and arrive before their strict 11PM gate closure. Hard as I tried I was unable to arrive before the gate was closed. I was not the only person that arrived too late, there were 10 other cars that were feeling as optimistic as me. Ultimately, I was turned away and I spent Friday night in a hotel in Bakersfield. There was no smooth-talking your way into the festival after the gates lock. Don’t be late the box office closes at the posted time. Thus, next year I will be taking Friday off to accomplish the 5+ hour drive from San Francisco to Bakersfield on one of the worst traffic weekends of the year.
When I finally made my way into the festival and navigated to the car camping the friendly LIB staff asked do you want to be located in the quiet camping (Sunrise Camp) or loud camping? (High Noon) I drove through loud and chose quiet. Sunrise is a much further walk but I liked the vibes I got when I drove through it. The camping portion of the festival feels like pitching a tent in a flat desert fairground. What it lacks in shade it makes up for in individualistic personality. Attendees had plenty of creative ideas for avoiding the sun. I used a UV-resistant tarp over the lumber rack of my truck to transform my vehicle into my shady hideaway for the weekend. Many people pitched tents or parked their personal or rented RVs but I was most intrigued by the adult bouncy house somebody blew up and spent their festival weekend vibing in. LIB was described to me as a micro Burning Man with electronic music festival vibes. As I have never been to Burning Man, I can only say, yes, there were lots of driving floats with personal DJs.
The actual festival grounds were candy to the ears and eyes. People dressed to impress, festival organizers designed a layout that never ceased to entertain, and food was available in all corners of the festival. At times there was too much to see, almost to a fault. There was major noise, pollution, and sound leaking coming from all directions and every stage. Unlike some festivals that rotate entertainment from stage to stage, LIB activated all stages at all times with DJs in-between. Some festival goers will love this … while others will crave moments of peaceful sanctuary between stages.
This year’s Lineup included: LIGHTNING STAGE • REZZ • SOFI TUKKER • ZHU • Phantogram • Tobe Nwigwe • 070 Shake • Caribou • Drama • Sampa the Great • Mindchatter • Uncle Waffles • Beats Antique • Ozomatli w/ Chali 2na & Cut Chemist • Rochelle Jordan • Sad Night Dynamite • Moontricks • My Baby • Dimond Saints • Special Performance By: William Close & The Earth Harp Experience • THUNDER STAGE • Liquid Stranger • LSDream • TOKiMONSTA • The Glitch Mob • LTJ Bukem w/ Armanni • MEUTE • Deathpact • The Polish Ambassador • The Floozies • Prospa • Mersiv • Wreckno • Moore Kismet • Daily Bread • Zingara • Ahee • UNIIQU3 • Random Rab • Bambii • Balkan Bump • David Starfire • Hamdi • Canabliss • Jon Casey • Zen Selekta • El Papachango • Andreas One • WOOGIE STAGE • Tale Of Us • Diplo • Purple Disco Machine • Ben Böhmer • Stephan Bodzin (Live) • BLOND:ISH • LP Giobbi • Giorgia Angiuli • TSHA • AMÉMÉ • Cassian • Major League DJz • Logic1000 • Nico Stojan • Sabo & Goldcap • Layla Benitez • Desiree • Rinzen • Sam Shure • Nala • Deer Jade b2b Elif • Mary Droppinz • Nii Tei • Sinca • Baby Weight • Zach Walker • Eda • Shawni
I experienced a large variety of shows during LIB. Everything from a panel conversation about indigenous people to an unusual variety show called Steers & Queers to an epic electronic set by REZZ. If you like electronic music, hippies, vegan food, Boba Tea, hot weather, rollerskating, and over stimulation … you will LOVE this festival.
In order to help you and festival organizers better prepared for future festivals I always like to end my recaps with the pros and cons of this years event.
• Lots of space for festival attendees to camp.
• Swimming in lake. (Bring a floatie)
• Showers available for those that desire.
• A diverse entertainment schedule.
• Drinkable water stations located throughout festival.
• Bathrooms should be cleaned more regularly.
• Festival food was expensive! ($27 breakfast burrito)
• No shade in camping area. Tent becomes too hot for sleeping at 10A.
• Lots of dust.