Review: The Do LaB’s Lightning in a Bottle 2013

Over the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending The Do LaB‘s famed transformational festival known as Lightning in a Bottle, and each time it was truly an indescribable experience unlike any other. With new dates falling in the heat of Summer and an unfamiliar venue situated in a desert environment, this year’s festival underwent a significant amount of change in certain aspects, but its fundamental anatomy remained as artistic, conscious, purposeful, and spiritually vibrant as ever – exceeding my expectations and providing for yet another phenomenal weekend.

Through hosting an extensive lineup of some of the most in-demand musicians, DJs, speakers, yoga instructors, and artists, among many other performers and participants, Lightning in a Bottle has once again exemplified why it has gained such prestige as a world-class event that draws thousands from far and wide. After the jump, I’ll run through my thoughts on the new venue/atmosphere, my top 3 performances, late-night happenings, other highlights, and some photos to give you a better visual perspective of the festival.

The Venue/Atmosphere

From being held at Irvine Lake to being nestled on the shores of Lake Skinner, Lightning in a Bottle in Temecula felt like a home away from home. Having characteristics such as expansive grassy areas, dirt campgrounds, and of course, the lake, it was similar to the old location, but it was wider in shape than it was long, and the Temple of Consciousness was no longer accessible by a symbolic hike up the hill to a higher point with majestic views. Despite these differences, The Do LaB, along with other “co-creators,” had  a little more room to breathe, and worked its magic to fill in the gaps with stunning art installations (like the one pictured below), the usual Lightning in a Paintcan paintings, activities like LED jump rope, and other interactive features. The atmosphere of the festival, especially at night, is often compared to Burning Man, which is not surprising as The Do LaB was inspired by the week long gathering in the desert.

The stages at Lightning in a Bottle are always iconic structures, and this year, both the Bamboo stage and Woogie stage were re-designed for a fresh look while the already impressive Lightning stage remained the same. Most notably, the Woogie stage was transformed into a treehouse, and the area surrounding it included a set of swings, hanging ornaments in the trees, as well as the towering multi-colored squigs. The Do LaB out-did themselves with my favorite stage where all the groovy house music goes down.

Photo by: Daniel Zetterstrom

One intangible aspect of the atmosphere that always stands out is the down-to-earth vibe that I’ve come to associate with Lightning in a Bottle and the other Do LaB events. It makes for a free and open feeling that seems to bring out the best in people, while instilling optimism and inspiration that overflows into the daily lives of attendees. This is one of the main reasons why I come back year after year.


Top 3 Performances 

1. Nicolas Jaar

From what I saw at the Lightning Stage Saturday night, Nicolas Jaar and company took the crowd on a mind-bending journey guided by powerful, brooding rhythms, hypnotic melodies/vocals, and evolving soundscapes all with the backdrop of psychedelic visuals. It was incredible to witness such an unusual and gripping live performance that was executed to perfection.


2. Kastle

Photo by: Faith In Bass

Known for his emotive brand of soulful, UK-influenced electronica and burgeoning Symbols Recordings label, Kastle has been at the top of his game and he was a priority to see that weekend. Unfortunately, I had to make the difficult decision of splitting the Nicolas Jaar and Kastle sets as they were at the exact same time, but it all worked out. The Symbols boss man brought his live set to the Bamboo stage, and connected with the crowd on a deep, emotional level through slower meaningful songs off of his self-titled album like “Shouldn’t Say” featuring Austin Paul, “Timeless” featuring Armanni Reign & Domonique Porter, and “Circles,” among others. He then went on to balance the downtempo with a showcase of some of his more club-ready tracks such as his single, “Red Light” featuring Ayah Marar, and he even debuted two new tracks – a remix for Ellie Goulding and a remix for Mason – which were both excellent. Whether it’s a live set or a DJ set, you can always expect a thoughtful, well-crafted performance from Kastle.


3. GRiZ

Photo by: Guru

My third pick of the weekend is another one from Saturday night – the young gun from Detroit, GRiZ. From opening his set with the epic intro of “Gettin’ Live” to playing The Champ’s infamous song, “Tequila,” he brought the party to close out the Bamboo stage. Reminiscent of Pretty Lights, he has a touch of the Colorado glitch flavor, but he distinguishes himself further with a dose of jazz supplemented by his outstanding saxophone work. GRiZ was able to conjure up the tribal nature in the crowd for one massive dance party.

Honorable Mention: Miguel Migs, Thugfucker, Emancipator, Tycho, Blockhead, ODESZA, Marques Wyatt, gLAdiator, and many more.



After all of the performances on the main stages were finished, Silent Frisco took the reigns on the silent disco happenings while the campgrounds fired up with renegade parties all over for some after-hours debauchery. On Friday, the UK deep disco duo, Psychemagik, had missed their initial set time at Woogie, so they decided to play a set in a large inflatable dome, which had a one-of-a-kind intimate vibe. Needless to say, they were on-point for hours, and the unique circumstances seemed to fuel the energy that was exchanged between them and audience. On Saturday night, I went to another dome, but it was larger and built with metal structuring. To my surprise, the Headtron crew member, ChrisB., came by and provided the sounds for the small gathering of like-minded nocturnal folks looking to keep it going till sunrise. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the silent disco sets, but the parties in the campgrounds were a great headphone-less alternative.


Other Highlights

1. Best find: Sound bath sessions (in Temple of Consciousness)

2. Weirdest find: Altervision 3D Blacklight Experience or the Burlesque tent

3. Favorite strangers: Neighbors from Denver or Topless (a male nicknamed due to not wearing a shirt for years)

4. Favorite chill spot: OmShanTea hut (in Temple of Consciousness)

5. Favorite food: Bliss Cafe

6. Favorite art installation: Giant spider egg thing (see below)

7. Favorite quote on a sign: “This is a good sign”

8. Favorite outfit: Large, green furry overalls with monster claws for shoes


To say that Lightning in a Bottle 2013 was a great success would be an understatement. Every year The Do LaB never ceases to amaze me with their execution of creating an inimitable event that inspires creativity and a communal aspect that some larger events are lacking. Big thank you to The Do LaB, the volunteers, and everyone who make this festival happen every year. We’d also like to thank The Confluence Group for their continued support.

Photo by: Greg Peterson

Photo by: Daniel Zetterstrom

Photo by: Daniel Zetterstrom