10:30 am on Friday morning. I am honestly not surprised I slept through both morning yoga sessions. Few feelings are worse than waking up after a long night in your jeans in a tent in a parking lot on a hot afternoon. I thanked my lucky stars when beautiful cloud cover graced Friday morning and lit our propane stove to make breakfast.
Lightning in a Bottle 2012: nothing short of a life-changing weekend. Anyone, of course, can make this claim about any music festival. “Life-changing” really depends on your life being changeable, doesn’t it? If festival culture is your regular thing, you are probably starry-eyed until the day you arrive at your next festival experience.
LIB began with haste. Open camping on Thursday without “official” events meant open invitations from newly-settled campers flowed freely like freshmen dorm move-in day. This was not the time, and certainly not night, for sleep. Thursday night hummed with too much buzz, and campsites postured themselves like peacocks with feathers made of tents, tapestries and Christmas lights (or an inflatable boob, in one case).
The campsite inhabited a long strip nestled between the green foliage of the festival grounds and the misty beauty of the lake (Namasté out of the lake, bro). The names of the makeshift festival roads were whimsically impractical and ultimately useless when road signs begin to fall off. Nonetheless, your destination was never too far out of sight with so many flags and banners rising above the camps.
UFO base camp was on the edge of Onion Patch, a mere festival block away from the gate to the Bamboo Stage. Morning yoga had given way to a poi workshop, and the first thing I saw clearly that morning was 100 pairs of poi balls bouncing in perfect synchronicity to the beat of the music. It was an impressive sight, one of many convergences that would dot the weekend with a sense of peace and connectivity.
For lack of a better description, there was just something in the air here. Or maybe it was in the water. It was definitely somewhere in the music. Whatever this “something” was, people were glowing here. The level of trust and cooperation was set by the a sign at the entrance to the festival grounds, warning that sneaking people inside your trunk was punishable but not a source of shame.
But the implications for personal change sunk in a week before it began, when an LIB Facebook post asked for people to set an intention for their weekend and post it as a comment. Professional aspirations aside, I had but two goals: one, to make it to one morning yoga session; two, to wear suspenders and get fucking weird when Tipper played “Jook.” The rest, I vowed, would be taken in stride.
The 2012 lineup was serious business. If you are at all a fan of the music posted here, there was that times five plus twenty. Day One was all about getting familiar with the Bamboo Stage. It was too early in the week to sell my soul to Woogie and plunge into complete Funktion-1 stupor, which is a shame because Justin Martin led a crushing lineup including my new favorite J. Phlip along with Android Cartel and Anton Tumas. The Woogie became the party friend who likes silly costumes and nitrous and charms you either in spite of that or because of it.
The choice was deliberate to stick with more familiar names at Bamboo, where Thriftworks, Marley Carrol and Kalya Scintilla set the vibe at tribal. People were dancing near the stage and balancing on each other’s outstretched feet in nearly equal numbers, and the groove was more about tripping out into higher consciousness than vulgar amounts of clashing tones.
Without Pretty Lights performing at LIB, Michal Menert and Gramatik had some big shoes to fill in the name of Pretty Lights Music. They owned it early on, just like we knew they would. They are household names in Colorado, and they definitely let the rest of the crowd know their names.
The Bamboo Stage is where it was at Friday. We left briefly to check in at the Lightning Stage for a few incredible moments. Lynx had completely enraptured a crowd by the end of her set, who weren’t applauding as much as they were gushing over the performance. Apparat was an incredible experience as well, a perfect time to lay out on the grass and watch twilight clouds roll by overhead. The new live-band sound he has going and the somewhat Radiohead-ish sound of the music was a great choice to mix things up in the Friday lineup.
Shpongle played a very similar set to what we saw at his Boulder Theater “Masquerade” show, but in hindsight that set seemed restrained compared to his LIB appearance. The crowd was twice as wild. Walking anywhere other than the furthest path behind the crowd meant you risked being knocked by a fist, foot, or otherwise glowing object. “D.M.T.” became the first of many silent reveries we saw within the Lightning Stage crowd this weekend… silence for a different reason than Lynx’s emotional closer, but we’re not here to judge.
It was intense enough to warrant a little breather back at the camp. Unfortunately, that meant I was digging through my bag in the dark when I heard “Jook” blasting from a mile away. I had a dance party of one outside my tent. Doing my suspenders dance to “Jook” was way more realistic than morning yoga, sure, but somehow my inability to accomplish either didn’t phase me at all. Maybe it’s also because the sound on that system was crystal clear from a mile away. But maybe it just wasn’t a night for hang-ups.