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Will Lightning in a Bottle continue its rise in 2016?

Lightning in a BottlePhotos courtesy of Juliana Bernstein // Written by Josh Herwitt //

Lightning in a Bottle //
San Antonio Recreation Area – Bradley, CA
May 25th-30th, 2016 //

So you’re all recovered from Coachella by now, and you’re feeling like you’re ready to get back out there pretty soon.

Sure, you could wait until Outside Lands returns to San Francisco this summer, but that’s not until the first weekend of August anyway. Three months between music festivals, after all, can be a long time for some passionate music fans.

If you’re itching to go to another fest in between Coachella and Outside Lands but also feeling a little more adventurous than usual, Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) might be just what the doctor ordered.

Geographically, the “transformational” festival remains perfectly located to tap into both the LA and SF markets since adopting San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, Calif., as its home for what will be the third straight year this Memorial Day weekend.

Lightning in a Bottle

But LIB has always been so much more than merely a music festival. In what has been The Do LaB’s crown jewel of all the events it puts on throughout the year, LIB offers its own unique melange of art, yoga, workshops and speakers that few other U.S. festivals have been able to replicate; Symbiosis Gathering in Northern California and Further Future near Las Vegas are the closest comparison to date in matching LIB’s Burning Man-esque vibe. Major corporate sponsors like Heineken, American Express, H&M or T-Mobile don’t exist. Instead, it has made lasting partnerships with small to mid-size companies like New Belgium, Reed’s, KIND and your favorite coconut water brand (LIB had partnerships with three different ones last year). For California’s music scene in particular, what has been dubbed the “Greenest Festival in America” the past five years continues to serve as a stopgap between the state’s two largest music festivals in its two largest geographic regions.

And for that very reason, we’ve noticed that LIB may be undergoing a bit of a transformation after selling out for the first time in 15 years last May (read our review here), with attendance numbers reaching as high as 20,000, roughly 5,000 more than in previous editions. But even at this juncture more than a decade since LIB started as a friend’s birthday party in the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara, each year is just as critical as the last in shaping its identity. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the festival’s boutique roots can stay firmly planted in the ground, and as the music migrates further and further toward the mainstream with indie-electronic artists like Chet Faker, Grimes and Jamie xx topping this year’s lineup, toeing that line can start to look rather murky. In fact, it’s become fairly commonplace to see Coachella and LIB share artists who either played in Indio the year before (i.e. Jamie xx, Chet Faker and Cashmere Cat) or less than two months prior (i.e. Grimes, TOKiMONSTA and Lucent Dossier Experience). Who knows, you may even see LIB newcomers like Moderat and Tourist making their debuts in the desert next year, too.

Lightning in a Bottle

LIB has not officially sold out yet, but with 80 percent of its tickets already accounted for, you can bet that it will by the time we reach Memorial Day weekend. This year’s bill is as strong as its ever been, with an undercard that will see international acts like Cashmere Cat, Ibeyi, Four Tet and Guy Gerber perform on The Do LaB’s three innovatively designed stages.

That’s not to say the U.S. is not well-represented at LIB, however. Portland-based electronic producer Emancipator (born Douglas Appling) and Colorado “jazztronica” duo Big Gigantic are two of the bigger names to grace the festival’s poster this year, while Florida electro-rock trio Hundred Waters and Brooklyn indie-dance quartet Rubblebucket are two other domestic groups bolstering an already-impressive collection of artists.

It should be no surprise then why LIB has become one of California’s fastest-growing festivals over the last five years as the lineup steadily improves with each spring that passes. Yet, only time will tell what kind of impact it makes in what’s been one wild and crazy 2016 so far.

Lightning in a Bottle 2016 lineup

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