7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, the only two words on my mind are “home stretch.” That’s the nature of a vacation; the final day is always bittersweet. Silverado Canyon has already given me my money’s worth, but I greedily plan to milk Sunday completely dry.
I wasn’t the only one unwilling to throw in the towel. Massive energy from Big Gigantic and Bassnectar aside, we had bass pioneer Opiuo ready to put on a funky dance-off, and DJ Laura would become one of our camp’s favorite surprises of the weekend. R/D creates the kind of low-end psychedelia that brought us to LIB in the first place, and we can’t forget all the mystic energy from the Beats Antique guys doing their thing (albeit separately), following the headiest of cats like Random Rab, Govinda, and saQi Ensemble.
Even the underdog Woogie Stage was bringing it strong on Sunday. I can’t say I was familiar with the lineup throughout the weekend, but at least I knew enough to make appearances there for Nick Warren, idiot Savant, motherfucking Lee Burridge and a surprisingly ambitious set from Pumpkin.
But more on that in just a second.
The last day of a festival is a time when many call upon the powers of illegal substance (or Red Bull; same difference). I had only slept for about three hours a night but was fueled completely by a new head on my shoulders. It was my same old head, I guess, just with less crap rolling around in it. Light-headed in the best way.
Throughout the weekend, we had watched as more and more people dropping into being themselves and expressed who they are. It’s inspiring, and you feel obliged to return the favor. Become friends with the true you, stop holding that person back. You start to realize how tiring it becomes to tie yourself down.
I couldn’t thank The Do LaB enough for creating this experience, knowing that this new mood I had adopted wasn’t luck more than certainty. The chain of events began for many Do LaB staff while at Burning Man, something they further verified by estimating 70% of LIB patrons were Burning Man veterans. That’s almost three-quarters of a 10,000-person festival! The future was going in a clear direction.
Burning Man was breeding the next generation of festival aces. It was all that some people wanted talk about (“Oh, you need to make it to the Playa, it’s the most beautiful experience.” “Yeah? Can I buy your ticket, then?”).
Demand for the Burning Man experience was getting out of control. We met crews of 30-40 that had only received a dozen tickets in the Burning Man lottery. What else will they do with those crazy custom busses except bring them to other festivals? You don’t need a desert to go on a vision quest.
Big Gigantic was a no-brainer, and watching the shit-eating grin on Dominic Lalli’s face as he killed time backstage let me know he had it under control. They won mad props for bringing such a unique sound, not easy to do at a place as diverse as LIB. When you’re in the photo pit and even the photographers are saying “Fuck it, I just wanna dance,” you are witnessing the X Factor. We told at least a dozen new festival friends that Big Gigantic wasn’t an act to be missed, and every one of them found us afterwards to thank us for the tip.
Needless to say there was a bitter element in being pulled away from the relentless attack that Big Gigantic unleashed at the Lightning Stage. This is a pivotal moment that makes the festival unique for everyone. It’s giving up one of your favorite acts to go to a side-stage and listen to an unknown, like DJ Laura, and instantly falling in love.
DJ Laura was given one of the last time slots on the Bamboo stage for the weekend, the exact same time Big Gigantic was electrifying the Lightning Stage. Many would crumble under the pressure of playing such a tough time slot, but DJ Laura (who is also known as one-half of LowRIDERz with An-Ten-Nae) saw it as an opportune moment to unveil her special style of glitch, crunk, West Coast hip-hop, and grind low-to-the-floor bass. The approach to her set was to bring a special and intimate club feel to the open-air Bamboo Stage, and it helped produce one of the best sets of the weekend.
I also have to mention there was an impressive third aerial circus act (Nudigenous), making that three aerial circus acts I now can name. Nudigenous perhaps laid the hardest into a dubstep soundtrack, and though Lucent Dossier had the most theatrical set of “acts,” I have to give it to Nudigenous for using the most creative equipment (the spinning two-person prism was insane!).
I spotted Opiuo‘s mohawk in the darkness behind the Bamboo Stage long before he skipped up to the decks. An Aussie with infectious excitement, he also has crafted one of the most unique, recognizable sounds to hit bass music in recent years. With so many Australian producers now following in his footsteps, I refer to his sound as “Australian bass funk.” He is a master at creating the loudest whisper you’ve ever heard.
After all was said and done, bringing out Bassnectar wasn’t even fair. You could see the weariness in the crowd’s eyes and hear it faintly in their voices. There had to have been some contractual agreement that no one else was allowed to crank the system that loud, because I swear my chest almost caved in while standing in front of the speakers. I legitimately felt bad for the people in the front row, but proud that they stayed the entire set.
The Lightning Stage experienced problems all throughout the weekend (Swann was almost completely shafted during her Glitch Mob appearance), but no one got it as bad as Bassnectar. However, it was just proof that this was an incredibly forgiving crowd, and widespread assurance set in after Lorin said something like “Equipment failures used to scare me. They don’t anymore. If this mixer doesn’t work, we’ll use a second, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll use a third.” At least I had a chance to re-inflate my collapsed chest and spoon my melted face off the ground.
Lorin has the perfect resume for LIB, building his reputation as a Burning Man regular and a purveyor of both heavy breakbeat and “Dubuasca” style hippiedom (a track that made a rare appearance during his set). He’s been an LIB affiliate for as long as Glitch Mob, and few people embody the full-package conscious artist megastar on his level (maybe Glitch Mob).
Bassnectar has developed a brutal system of control. First, hit them with bass. When they scream for more, hit them with more bass. When they are satisfied, hit them with more bass. When they think they’ve had enough, hit them with more bass. When they can’t take any more… hit them with more bass. Then a few more times for good measure. And when the crowd is reeling in a bass-drunk trance, they are open to any suggestion; time to drop beautiful sounds and positive messages straight to their dome.
There’s that American Beauty sample he always uses: “I feel like I’ve been in a coma for about twenty years, and I’m just… now… waking… up.” If the LIB attendees hadn’t already woken up through three days of transformative meditation experiments, group prayers, endless workshops, nice neighbors with beautiful souls, excellent music all over the festival grounds and one of the best community vibes I’ve ever encountered… well, there aren’t any excuses. At this point, it was a beautifully redundant message.
It wasn’t long before the last night turned into the morning after. I swore I just laid down, I thought to myself, and now a 17-hour drive is about to commence. So I get back up and drag myself down to port-o-potty row. There is STILL music coming from the festival grounds. I think that I can’t possibly take any more, but find myself standing in disgusting claustrophobia just tapping my foot away to the beat. I think to myself that it’s the happiest, most perfectly placed song I have ever heard.
It’s Random Rab, rocking a post-sunrise set on top of a hovercraft. I’ll be damned if he didn’t make me join one last dance party before I left. On my way out, I caught his eye and threw him a big two-handed heart sign. He smiled, bowed deeply in return. I can’t really explain the profound feeling of peace that set in at that moment, other than to say I finally felt okay with leaving LIB. Twenty minutes later, we were gone.