How I Fell into the Bottle

LIB music festival at sunset with stage & ferris wheel in horizon

I feel like the learning experience at Lightning in a Bottle can be endless

Every year presents a new set of lessons alongside our favorite music acts, workshops and yoga sessions. As we festival our way through a fresh batch of physical, mental and hygienic challenges, our perspectives about life let loose their rigid confinements.

This life-changing music festival features countless magical moments waiting to take your breath away around every turn. They are there to help you realize the beauty of life. To help you see that there are endless possibilities; to show you that there is more to discover; and to remind you that new beginnings are always happening. LIB gives you hope in the world –it completely refreshes your spirit and gives you the strength you need to keep pushing through any challenges and to live a happier life. It also makes you completely grateful for what you do have along the way.

When Flume ended his set on Saturday I could feel the presence of an incredible energy. There was a beautiful magic in the air and it was clear that everyone around was feeling it, too.


“So excited,” we were all saying, “We still have a whole night of this!”


It’s funny how you can see things so clearly sometimes. LIB gave me that clarity and let me put my guard down. It enabled me to let go of all the negative energy that I have been holding onto this past year. As my adventure unfolded alongside thousands of like-minded friends, I finally felt as if I was one with the universe.


Lightning In A Bottle Music Festival Friday Night at Odesza

On Friday night I thought it was way too crowded, but the magic prevailed!

As we were walking over to Lightning Stage to see Odesza, the crowd was overwhelming. Everyone was getting pushed around as soon as they stepped off the bridge. People were shoving in every which way and we couldn’t stop walking shoulder-to-shoulder until after wading our way to the side of the crowd. Once I could finally stop walking on other people’s feet, I realized only my boyfriend was behind me. The rest of the group had been separated instantly. It was nearly a horrible experience. We had to watch Odesza all the way from the Ferris wheel to get any space… But his set was great!

At first I didn’t understand why Do LaB would let it get so congested. We really wanted to be in sight of the stage for Odesza’s set, but we couldn’t even get close.


Thunder Stage at LIB music festival with chicken onsie silhouette

The same happened for GriZ at Thunder Stage

We decided to head over to Thunder Stage to catch Phuture Primitive where it was less crowded, but still pretty congested. When it came time for GriZ to play it got much worse. After learning our lesson at Odesza, we decided to stay on the outside of the stage to enjoy the show and dance our hearts out.

GriZ was amazing. Although I will note that I feel GriZ should have performed at Lighting Stage… I think the bass at Thunder may have been a little too much for his style. I wanted to hear more of that funky sax, but I couldn’t –because the bass was too heavy. It was still pretty amazing. I danced my little paws off.

As I was dancing in my wolf hoodie next to the stairs that led to the Ferris wheel, the people watching GriZ from the cliff started clapping and cheering at my dance moves. I was on point and felt so happy! The feeling of zero judgment was incredibly strong –I was really letting myself go.

GriZ is one of my favorite artists. It felt like I was in my living room listening to his albums on Spotify –just really getting down like no one was watching. But they were –and they were cheering me on; complimenting me as they walked by. It was so incredible. In my experience, I have never found that energy anywhere… Amazing!!!

After Friday the congestion wasn’t so bad. It felt like Do LaB wiped out all the newbies with the first night of fun. The rest of the time it felt very intimate and the good vibes made you feel extremely connected to one another. I think this might have been a result of the new layout. It literally brought us all closer together and made us feel as one –I didn’t feel that as much last year. I think this year they really outdid themselves with getting their point across: To accept everyone, to have no judgment and to come together as one family.

This year the festival experienced a major increase of first timers, bad manners and trash

This was not hard to see. In the 3 years that I have attended Lightning in Bottle, I have never been shoved or pushed –until now… But let’s all remember that transformation festivals take time to work their magic. Our new friends will learn. Having respect for each other and the earth is a major aspect of the LIB community. It’s a huge part of what makes this festival so beautiful.

Music festival first timers keft trash on shrine's bench

Between all the shoving and the crazy amounts of trash that was left this year, I’d say we have our work cut out. I’ve never seen so much trash at LIB. It was really sad. Come on guys! We can do better! I know we can! It’s time to lead by example and help guide them as so many LIB’ers have done for us.

This year we camped by a few jerks that decided to leave a mountainous pile of camp trash and a broken chair… Not good guys! The recreation area will not let us keep our new music festival home if we keep this up… We need to nip it in the bud –and quick. We love LIB dearly and do not want to see it deal with more location issues. It is a beautiful light force and we are the light beams. The Lightning in a Bottle Tribe shines beautifully when we are reunited. Let’s help keep this amazing music and art festival a clean, safe space for us to gather and celebrate life each year!

Let’s set our intentions to help teach the newbies how to respect one another and the earth. Maybe less of an increase will help next year. This years 33% increase was pretty massive… there’s no need to bite off more than we can chew. The LIB spirit works best when we are fully submerged in it. I think it’s only fair to the newcomers that we preserve the atmosphere to help them see beyond the party. Although raging is fun, this festival offers much more.


William & the Earth Harp at LIB Music Festival

Speaking of fun… Saturday night was incredible!

Our evening began with William and the Earth Harp at Lightning Stage, which was nice and spacious. I love the earth harp. It’s one of my favorites at LIB. I was really happy to see them, considering they only had one set this year. Usually they play every night, so I understand why their set played a little longer than scheduled.

We set up base camp under The Dough Lab’s awning/chill-space next to Lightning Stage. It was a perfect spot to enjoy Flume’s set, which by the way was amazing! The energy I gained from everyone sitting around me made me get up and dance right on the spot. All of my friends were resting while they watched the show. So I just started dancing.

I felt like I was in control of the energy I was giving off and could give it to everyone around me at will. This was the climax of my weekend. It was my favorite part of this year’s adventure. I felt incredibly centered and connected to everyone around me. So safe and warm… I have never danced like that before in my life.

I remembered a moment from the press conference, earlier in the day, when Dream, a co-producer of Lightning in a Bottle, was explaining her first trip to Burning Man and how she really let go for the first time. She told us that she had been a professional dancer her whole life, but there was a moment at that festival where, for the first time, she really danced. She felt the love and understanding and the connection we all look for at these incredible music festivals.

That’s what I felt like –later that night, during Flumes set. It felt as if I have never danced up until that point. Even after dancing and figure skating for 13 years –I have never felt that… magic… but that’s what it was… a magical moment just for me.

So many people were cheering me on. The love was overwhelming. There was so much magic in the air. Everyone felt it. My spirit was lifted so high. Higher than I have ever been lifted before. One awesome new friend was dancing a little further away and ran up to me for a high five. He said, “Thank you for keeping the beautiful energy alive around us. It’s so beautiful. Keep up the good work!” he said, before returning to his spot to continue dancing. I felt very honored to keep the energy going around us. I danced my little heart out.


2 Lady Singers of Rising Apalachia at LIB Music Fest

The daytime sets on Saturday were the perfect precursor to the wonderful night that would follow

One of our favorite festival aperitifs was Rising Appalachia’s afternoon set at Lightning Stage. I had only just discovered these lovely songstresses –with their dirty south, crunk-folk music –when the LIB lineup was released. Their enchanting music instantly captivated me. It’s the type of music I like to sing my soulful heart out to while getting lost in sultry layers of sound. Hearing them play live was a real treat. They were definitely one of my favorite sets.

Throughout the festival I had the privilege of catching acts such as Made in Heights, Hermitude and RL Grime. The lineup was great at all of the stages and the dance parties didn’t stop there. Far beyond the main stages, the dancing continued. Between Favala Bar, Pagoda Bar, Amori’s Casino and the Silent Disco it seemed the party never stopped.


“All in all it was another beautiful year. I personally had a very transformational experience.”


I’m really happy with Do LaB’s improvements and can’t wait to see what they do with the festival grounds next year. Also excited for their new house and techno-focused camping festival themed after LIB’s infamous, dance-move-inducing, good-vibe-grooving Woogie Stage. The inaugural Woogie Weekend will be taking place July 17 to July 19, 2015 at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado, CA.

Recognize the name? That’s because it had been the music festival’s majestic home for 3 beautiful years. Now the time has come for the Do LaB/LIB Family’s pilgrimage back to the epic location and they have done an excellent job at bolstering their lineup up with global dance music pioneers worthy of such an event. Be sure to check out the details and secure your ticket quickly if you can attend. We are looking forward to sharing this rare and intimate festival soiree with all of you.

And so, festival friends, remember to take what you learned at Lightning in a Bottle out into the world… Create your own peace. Live and let live. Show love, spread love. Never forget that you are infinite light and your potential is endless. Life will always be whatever you make of it.

Peace and Love

Carley Smith


Music festival sign reads, Leave It Better Leave It Beautiful




Posted in Lightning in a Bottle, Music Festivals.