What is good, sloths! Your favorite event attendee Eric Chow here, with two thumbs up for the highly acclaimed Lightning in a Bottle. Once again, the Do LaB never fails to impress. Any Coachella veteran will tell you that the Do LaB stage is always one of if not the highlight of the festival. So, it’s pretty unsurprising exactly how phenomenal Lightning in a Bottle 2016 was for me. It’s literally magic. Set in Bradley, California, this festival is now most certainly one of my all time favorites. Like other transformational festivals (see: Lucidity, Serenity, Symbiosis), the vibe is hard to beat. With a very organized set-up, the beautiful architecture, art on display, and cool shit to buy, AND dope music, it’s no wonder that the sort of person Lightning attracts is also pretty cool. Unlike the type of people present at more well-known festivals, the LiB crowd is magical. The people at this thing were very much so there for the music and the art specifically. Gone are the selfie sticks, flower crowns, shirtless bros, boppy teenage girls, and people constantly on their iPhones; in their stead are flow artists, shufflers, techno/house snobs, and bassheads. There were SO many stages at Lightning. Everywhere I turned, no matter my mood or energy, there was something that fit it. Feeling like getting down to some dirty trap, bass or glitch&trip hop? The Thunder Stage’s your home. Want that dirty deep & tech house? You can boogie at the Woogie Stage (my personal favorite. Might just be because I’m literally addicted to house and techno), with a dance floor covered in mulch for your shuffling pleasure (fun to dance on, and minimizes the dust issue!). Everything else? The Lightning Stage’s got you! Beyond the main three, there were gems to be found everywhere. From the Temple Stage live sets at night, DJ sets at the Favela & Pagoda Bars, acoustic bands in the Village, smooth jazz at the Grand Artique, straight up weird shit at the Jive Joint, and even a little secret DJ cave inside of the art exhibit, there was a wide array of eclectic music that fit your every need. It was an unbeatable selection. One of the coolest new additions this year was the firespinner pit. An iconic form of art popularized at Burning Man, it really only contributed to the magic that Lightning was. As a firespinner myself, I gleefully came here every night after the music had ended and partook. It was a lot of fun to be able to engage in an activity that I associate deeply with my love for music – being able to do this in the festival environment was incredible. Meeting other incredibly talented fire artists was no doubt a large highlight of my LiB experience. So – let’s get into it. Friday: I spent all of Thursday setting up camp at the hammock structure in the Namaste campgrounds, (Big shout out to Mocks inna’ Box fam for being the most amazing, gracious hosts!) exploring the festival grounds, figuring out where everything was going to be. This meant that Friday went incredibly smoothly for me – I got to catch everyone that I wanted to. I woke up late, grabbed a coffee and some pizza, and headed over to Sacha Robotti‘s groovy set (which featured some Prince vocals) at the Woogie. The layout of the stage and speaker placement allowed for literally perfect acoustics – everything was balanced perfectly, which is essentially for the sort of house and techno that Sacha was handing to the crowd. It was a fantastic way to start my day, with everybody around me getting down to Sacha‘s rhythmic basslines and complex drum patterns. After that, I headed over to the Thunder Stage. Clozee literally blew my socks off. I had no idea who he was, and he rocked my world. With a clear Japanese influence, the pan flutes utilized simultaneously with a FAT kick and clap on a hip-hop beat was just way too fire. The Funk Hunters followed shortly after. Like their namesake, they most certainly brought the funk. The brass lines and fat drum lines had the crowd swaying back and forth. However, even though the Funk Hunters certainly played a good set, it did not prepare me for Ekali. This shit was off the wall. There’s no other way to put it, sloths. Dirty, dirty, trap; dirty, dirty bass with absolutely fire hip-hop samples. Usually, I don’t like remixes because I often think the original is better. Definitely not the case for Ekali‘s set. He played every classic hip-hop banger you can think of off the top of your head, and the crowd was with him for every second of it. At the end, he even hit us with a drum & bass song – and, despite my typical dislike for drum & bass, I definitely enjoyed it. I walked out of Ekali covered in sweat and extremely happy. After heading back to the campsite, getting some dinner, and vibing out with the homies there, we made our way to Big Gigantic at the Lightning Stage. This was, along with Ekali, legitimately one of the best sets of the weekend. Aside from playing the crowd favorites (such as Get On Up), Big G surprised and thrilled us with a funky house track with some trademark live sax. Everyone there was just vibing out to the future funk legend. I left Big Gigantic a little early to catch the Polish Ambassador, who was playing some old school stuff – and I mean old school. For example, he played a remix of “Take On Me”. It wasn’t really up my alley, and I wasn’t really feeling it, but he certainly drew a really big crowd. It just didn’t really fit my mood at the time. I wandered around for a while, stopping by the art gallery, until making my way back to Thunder Stage for everyone’s favorite genre defying kitty cat. Cashmere Cat met expectations. While I wasn’t floored in the same way I was with Ekali, Clozee, or Big Gigantic, I had a great time. He played a lot of his old school stuff – like Party Girls, which surprised me, and his classics, from Mirror Maru to Kiss Kiss. While his set was definitely enjoyable, I just didn’t feel as stunned as I have been at his previous sets at other venues and festivals. Still, it was a fantastic way to close out Day 1. Saturday: This day, in my opinion, was by far the most stacked, music-wise. Every artist playing was essentially a crowd favorite. I started the day in a way very similar to Friday. However, I actually almost kept sleeping through the afternoon (based off of how hard I went the day before…) but was woken up by a good friend of mine, Maya, and was immediately dragged to Justin Jay‘s funky party at the Woogie. I’ve seen him before, but nothing could prepare for how hard my face melted. House beats with fat kicks and claps woke me right up, and the soul-jazz vibe & fire vocals that Jay throws on his tracks ensured for a groovy ass time. Subsequently, I made my way to the Thunder Stage, where I would remain for most of the day. Space Jesus melted my face a little too hard. The transition from groovy soul house to music I can only describe as alien sex bass was a little intense for me. For a 2:45 set, it was just too much for me to handle. While I can most certainly appreciate his music and his incredible production skills, it just didn’t really fit my mood at the time. That being said, it was still dope, and his bass swells, spaceship synths resonated well with the basshead crowd present. Autograf was highly anticipated for me after catching his set at the Do LaB just a month ago. His soft steel-drum, tropical synths brought some serious island vibes. I don’t really think you can ever say someone ripped on a xylophone, but this is certainly an exception. I have never seen a crowd this large getting the fuck down to a dude literally on a xylophone, but that’s exactly what happened. One of the best sets this weekend for sure. After Autograf I stayed on to catch Hayden James’ set. His deep basslines and vocal samples were beautiful to witness. His soft, syncopated, complex drum rhythms washed over the crowd, and had people swaying back and forth. Very chill vibes yet had people getting absolutely down, still. I took a break here to wander the festival and explore a little more. Because it finally cooled down a little, I managed to curl up and take a short nap by the Jive Joint, which was draped in a soft carpet that I highly appreciated. I woke up in time to make my way to Lightning, where Ibeyi‘s soft vocals in English and Yoruba were accompanied by weird but also cool people walking around on stilts dressed head to toe in animal garb. Their music was absolutely beautiful to catch at this time of the day. Their soft percussion lines and soul-filled voices was perfect with the sunset that illuminated the right of the Lightning Stage. After, I headed to the Thunder to catch TOKiMONSTA. While her SoundCloud and Spotify would suggest that her hip-hop instrumentals tend to chill and of the softer type, don’t let that mislead you. This set was PERFECT for the time slot it was in. TOKi pulled a HUGE crowd. Dropping foreign trap bangers like Keith Ape’s “It G Ma” (one of my absolute favorites. Just way too nasty of a song.) and even Wax Motif’s electro house “Krush Groove”, she abused the fact that the Thunder stage had speakers that could most certainly handle the bass-heavy nature of her DJ set. I stayed on to catch Minnesota playing a B2B set with G Jones. To these two, what the fuck is genre? I caught them before at Symbiosis, but this was just on another level, and they turned it way, way up. Their heavy hitting, wobbling bass lines rocked the crowd, and glitchy, grimey synths had my ribcage reverbrating with how epic it was. Most certainly one of the most incredible sets I have ever witnessed, and the best of Saturday by far. Sunday: After how hard I turned up (I pretty much didn’t really have a choice.) on Friday and Saturday, I took it a little easier on the last day, and the music that played only helped me out here as the lineup wasn’t quite as bass heavy. The early afternoon had me at the Woogie again to catch Sabo & Goldcap. Wet kick & claps combined with softer bass lines, string synths, world-music samples, and chill vocals was impossible for the crowd to not move to. Their set was one of my favorites this weekend. Definitely an underrated duo. Afterwards, I got to see Thriftworks at the Thunder for a little. He sounds exactly like his name does, and the experimental drum patterns, wobbly bass patterns, and just plain weird bizarre, hissing synths he slaps on his tracks was definitely a pleasure to listen to. I then went to the art exhibit, where a very low key DJ set by Eviali was playing. He wasn’t even on the schedule, but this was also one of my favorite sets of the weekend. He played a Latin-American influenced track, with soft string samples layered onto bongos and other more organic drums. Desert Dwellers played a set at the Thunder that was mindblowing. I sat around on the dance floor on one of the platforms, just absolutely vibing out and let them take me away to another world. Their Middle Eastern vocal samples, pan-flute synths, risers, washed over me in a way that I can only describe as lifechanging. Another incredible set that I am having a really hard time put into words – the only way to fully understand is for you to catch them live at some point. One of the best sets of the weekend. — Thank you, Do LaB, for an unforgettable experience. Lightning in a Bottle exceeded the hype and even more. I’d like to give a special shoutout to Flowtoys for being huge homies and fixing my poi before the festivities began! I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I’d also like to give a shoutout all the dope festival creatures I interacted with… or tried to interact with this weekend (@Noah, Lila, Rachel). Maya, Ziv, Matt, Christina, J.D, & Kelsey – thank you so much for letting me camp with you guys. You are fantastic homies; long live Mocksinnabox! Blake, Mia, Alex & Luke – thank you for coming :). Jimmy, Jacob, Hannah, and rest of the Claremont crew I didn’t really get to see – I only have love for y’all. Charlie – you know I fuck with you and your whole crew. I’ll see you shortly. Isabel, Milan & Christian – thank you for making my Sunday oh so much better and so magical. …& to all the friends I made at Lightning and the people that made it way more fucking lit for me. You know who you are. Like I’ve said in the past, everything the Do LaB puts out is always of high quality, and LiB is no exception. See you again in Oak Canyon Park, Silverado, CA for Woogie Weekend (That is, if Noah lets me cover it, ;)) !