Lightning in a Bottle, the 10-year-old music and wellness festival that takes place annually on May 24th-28th at the Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado, is probably one of Orange County's best-kept secrets. Drawing from an eclectic selection of artists from the electronic and indie scenes as well as celebrating the natural landscape, this festival has evolved from an intimate gathering into a much bigger--but still family-run--annual event.
We spoke with the double Jesses, Jesse Flemming and Jesse Shannon of the DoLab, the multi-tentacled production team behind Lightning in a Bottle, to get some insight into 2012's version of the festival, as well as the future.
OC Weekly (The Urban Nomad): LIB is one of my favorite young festivals. Talk a bit about your goals for this year as well as what will be different from 2011.
Jesse Flemming: In the past we would work so hard to bring this community together leading up to LIB. Then we would have it and afterwards all this energy we built up would kind of just taper off. So this year we made an effort to bring the community together throughout the year. We just had a huge New Years show with Beats Antique and LucEnt dosSieR Experience had a big show in October. So the framework is now to have all these community inspiring events throughout the year, with LIB being the pinnacle.
Jesse Shannon: Some of the new things as far as onsite is, we will be expanding the Temple of Consciousness, which if you've never been to LIB is this amazing site on top of a small mountain where people meditate, play music and do yoga. We are expanding this site, as well as adding a new meditation area and an expanded yoga area.
Flemming: We will have seven new stage designs as well as a growing list of amazing artists, who I can not yet name, that will continue to build on what people have come to expect from LIB.
Can we get an exclusive on who some of those artists will be, and do they include any bands as opposed to predominantly electronic acts?
Flemming: Ahhh, well that's what everyone wants to know and we are not yet ready to announce any names just yet, but they do include some live bands. The core of LIB does remain electronic music though, that's what our audience really gravitates towards. So that will remain the heart of LIB as long as that's what the people demand.
Ok, well I hope when you are ready you will be hooking this reporter up with some of that exclusive info. What are some of the lessons from last year's LIB that would allow this year to go even smoother?
Flemming: Mainly technical ones. To put on a festival this size, there are massive production efforts that go into the process. Last year LIB attendance doubled from the year before, so our constant challenge is to deliver the same quality of experience without anyone noticing the gears turning all around them. That's the artform of what we do, to have everything go so smooth and so perfect, the people can be totally immersed in their zone without noticing, and every year we get better and better at that.
If you look at the American festival circuit, regardless of the recession, we have seen incredible growth, with Coachella now at two weekends (and already sold out) and Lollapalooza going international. Are there any plans to expand LIB nationally or even internationally?
Flemming: That's the challenge, and we talk about this all the time. We would love to expand, but how do we do it so that the event doesn't become too large and people who don't understand the culture begin to potentially offset the balance of the vibe and energy of what people are feeling here. That's a big part of what people have come to expect about LIB, everybody has this sense of love and community and if it got too big that could potentially get destroyed. But so far every year we have grown and we have been able to maintain, so we will see.
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You have kind of a ballsy strategy for presale that you call the "Rush & Get Em" which is actually happening today. You don't announce the lineup, don't do any marketing and allow people 24 hours to get a first crack at tickets. Talk about that.
Shannon: We have been doing this for over 10 years and a trust has been developed for our brand and it's important that the people that know be there first. This is a gift to our core audience. Line ups are important, but even more important to our people is that the vibe and energy stays the same. That people can come to LIB and expect that communal experience that makes this festival special. We do get some flack from people who think this is some arrogant thing we are doing, but for us its more about connecting to our community and rewarding them for the trust they place in us.
You can go to LIB's website NOW and get access to the Rush & Get Em tix.