Somewhere between Coachella and Burning Man lies Lightning in a Bottle.

And not just literally on the calendar, with the Memorial Day festival coming a month after Coachella and three months before the Labor Day week known to so many as The Burn.

Where Lightning in a Bottle lands on that spectrum depends, in large part, on how you engage with the festival. Since its inception—and certainly now, in its second year at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Center near Bakersfield, California—LiB has and continues to combine music, art, culture and lifestyle like few events of this scale on the planet.

The majority of LiB’s festivaliens come, of course, for the lineup that Do LaB puts together year after year. After a three-year pandemic hiatus, the ‘Chella collaborators came back strong with Glass Animals, Chet Faker, Kaytranada, and GRiZ atop a sneakily ecletic lineup.

Though the core of the 2022 Lightning in a Bottle schedule was comprised of electronica, this was no mere collection of DJs pressing play. From Dirtwire’s “swamptronic” sounds and Big Freedia’s potent cocktail of Detroit-style techno and New Orleans hip-hop bounce, to the husband-wife duo behind Elephant Heart busting out bangers and Monolink making sweet, sweet love to his guitar over ambient beats, LiB’s lineup featured many an artist who readily, willingly, and ably mash up genres to create wholly unique listening.


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Of course, there were plenty of world-class DJs doing live production for all the hippies, Burners and live music-lovers who flocked to the Central Valley. The Woogie stage hosted many a compelling set, including Four Tet’s tour of the sonic universe and house dance parties from Yotto, Black Coffee, and Eli & Fur. At Thunder, visitors could enjoy the wavy revelry of Big Wild, the mystical magic of CloZee, and the funky fun of New Zealand’s Opiuo at sunset.

Those seeking out more traditional acoustics needed to look no further than Hermanos Gutierrez on their guitars at the Lightning Stage or the Brothers Comatose inside the mock Wild West town (costumed actors and all) of the Grand Artique stage.

That immersive experience found at so many of the smaller venues around the grounds sets LiB apart from many of its contemporaries on the festival circuit. So, too, does the sheer variety of activities on offer throughout this sprawling, five-day creative extravaganza.

Two tents hosted a full state of yoga (and yog-ish) classes—three, if you count the one for meditation. There were lectures on psychedelics followed in the evening by DJ sets at smaller, more bespoke stages like Beacon, Oracle Cauldron and Memory Palace. For those who prefer more hands-on activities (like, say, families with kids or adults on mushrooms), there were cooking classes at the Learning Kitchen and sessions on mandala-weaving and watercolor at the Artclave.

More remarkable, still, is that Lightning in a Bottle continues to provide such a deep and well-rounded slate of goings-on without the sheer budget of other blockbuster weekenders. Roughly 30,000 attendees is nothing to sneeze at, especially with seemingly everyone camping at, near, or within a reasonable walk of the site’s human-made lake. But even an event of this scale pales in comparison to the 80,000-plus who flock to Black Rock City, much less the quarter million who descend on Indio (nearly) every April.

That smaller human footprint, though, is part of its charm that LiB has managed to maintain and sustain over its nearly 20 years in the festival game. Rarely was the crowd packed in like sardines in a tin can. Instead, there was plenty of space—physical, emotional and spiritual—to explore, play, and prance as you pleased, from stage to stage and activity to activity.

The one glaring omission came, sadly, on the culinary side. Notably absent was the Killa Dilla stand, with its cheesy, saucy, cabbage-y, Mexican-ish creation a staple of many a mealtime at LiB. That loss aside, there were ample food choices from around the world, most leaning heavily (if not entirely) vegan on their menus. Among those were Baja fish-style cauliflower tacos, veggie-stuffed pierogies and a “secret” menu of miso ramen for late-night revelers.

Many of the vendors, musicians, and artists will inevitably turn up at mass events across the country this summer. Most of those who rode art cars and set up (and broke down) more elaborate group camps will surely make their way to Reno and beyond to close out the season. And when Memorial Day rolls around in 2023, the lion’s share of those (and more) will return to Bakersfield—not for their kids’ youth soccer tournaments, but to celebrate two decades of Do LaB capturing Lightning in a Bottle and using it to summon all of the vibes.

View a gallery of snapshots from Lightning In A Bottle 2022 below via photographers Don IdioEric AllenJuliana BernsteinJamal EidYsabella LopezMike KimMatt Yamaguchi, and Brian Ngo.