As a seasoned veteran with roughly 10 years of music festival experience, at times it feels like I’ve seen it all. I’ve hit all the major ones from coast to coast, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella, Ultra, both EDC’s. As the years go on, the events tend to blend together. So, when the opportunity to attend Lightning in a Bottle came up, I jumped on it. I’ve heard about the event for years, but never had the chance to experience it for myself.
LIB has built a reputation for itself as a premiere destination for California music lovers. While the lineup was reason enough to make the trip from LA to Bakersfield, it was the unique vibe I was most excited for. The festival lasts a staggering 5 days, from Wednesday to Sunday with constant entertainment. Due to other work commitments, I was only able to attend Saturday and Sunday, but trust that was plenty. Come along with me as I take you through the immersive experience that was Lightning in a Bottle 2023.
The festival was held on Lake Buena Vista in Bakersfield, California. This year was an extra special celebration for the 20th anniversary. The location has moved around California several times in its history, but I really do think this location is an excellent choice. Bakersfield is incredibly central, serving as a halfway point for music fans from both the Bay Area and SoCal. The grounds itself are on a lake front which made for stunning, picturesque sunsets each night at dusk.
LIB is also a camping festival, and there is ample room for tents and RVs alike. As someone who just came back from Coachella, the camping experience there was extremely oversold, scorching hot, and a miniscule amount of space. Quite literally our car was backed into our tent. This was a totally different experience. Not only campers blessed with unseasonably cool weather, but there was also plenty of room to spread out. Although this was my first year in attendance, I talked to other festivalgoers who were praising the weather gods for the ideal conditions. Usually, the Bakersfield desert isn’t so kind, but 2023 was truly the year to do it tent style!
The line up boasted primarily electronic music acts, and as someone who has distanced myself from the EDM scene, I went into the weekend with low expectations. I knew I would enjoy whatever new talent I stumbled upon but wasn’t dead set on seeing any sets in particular. This often leads to new discoveries and pleasant surprises.
My personal favorite set from day 1 was Wreckno. Wreckno is an artist I’ve heard a lot of buzz about recently but haven’t gotten to check out live. They absolutely brought the energy; the sunset set time really fired me up for the night. The choreography, the queerleaders, the visuals, I was eating it all up. It’s really refreshing to see a unique, new energy in the EDM world.
Day 2 was all about exploring the various stages. I tended to gravitate towards The Woogie and The Junkyard. The vibes at these stages were absolutely immaculate. The energy stayed high at these stages until the wee hours of the night. We closed out the weekend grooving too Lee Burridge all the way until 2 am. Most festivals wrap at 10 PM or midnight, esepcially on Sundays. LIB was not afraid to keep the party going and it’s fans were definitely grateful.
For a more in-depth video breakdown of each day, feel free to watch my TikToks below!
I was really impressed with the overall production quality. You can tell the doLab spared no expense in making this a memorable weekend. All of the stages felt truly immersive. While dancing under the lights of The Woogie, you couldn’t help but feel transported to Pandora. The Junkyard felt like a plane crash in the middle of the desert. Each stage not only brought a unique vibe visually, but there were tons of variety in sound.
I was a little nervous about an EDM heavy festival, but with all of the variety of genres, it never felt repetitive. We bopped around from house, to techno, to bass all night long. There were also several other options if EDM isn’t your thing. The grounds we’re full of interactive art installations, pop ups, and even small stages of rock, opera, ballet, you name it.
As I mentioned in the beginning of my review, as someone with nearly a decade in the music world, it takes a lot to wow me. Often times raves these days feel really corporate, or familiar, but not in a good way. Lightning in a Bottle was truly the first festival I’ve been to in years that felt totally unique.
It’s clear that regulars to LIB look forward to this every year and have even built a community centered around this event. I was really enjoying the crowd. Everyone was truly in the moment. No one was focused on getting the perfect Instagram shot, or video for their story. In fact, when you looked out into the crowd, there were hardly any phones up at all which was super refreshing. Also on an unrelated note, everyone was SO good looking. Seriously, it was like a hot person convention. I documented some of my favorite crowd vibes and looks from the weekend here.
It’s clear that everyone in attendance is there for the right reasons. To get lost in the music, express themselves through fashion, and connect with likeminded people. Although I was only able to make it for two days, I can totally see why people take the time to soak it in for the full five. If you’re looking for a new festival to add to your list, I truly can’t recommend LIB enough. Thank you for having myself and Mic Drop this year, I will absolutely be back!