Lightning in a Bottle 2023: What to expect


cover photo by Nathaniel Windisch

Welcome back to the show. A quick recap from last year: G Jones and EPROM broke reality with Acid Disk 2, the Burning Desire fire dancers set the lake ablaze, and a lone Four-Tet headlined the Woogie stage long before Skrillex and Fred Again fused beside him like Voltron. This, of course, only scratches the surface of the Lightning in a Bottle festival – everywhere around you for five days something wild happening.

2023 is looking to be no different. REZZ, Sofi Tukker, and Zhu are spearheading the bill this time, with honorable mentions going to Diplo, Phantogram, Tale of Us, and Glitch Mob. What intrigues me more however are the lesser-known acts. If G Jones is the dark virus of bass music, Moore Kismet is the bright panacea. Their music is, simply put, incomprehensible – a vibrant sonic atmosphere tapered with feathers, oxygen, and the most disgusting bass production I’ve heard since Amon Tobin’s side hustle. Put their name on your fridge and don’t take it off.

Ozomatli is a wild inclusion as well. I remember buying their $0.99 iTunes singles way back in the day, discovering weird Latin-jazz-funk fusions that were beyond me for the time. Armed with Chali 2na & Cut Chemist, you might be seeing the 30+ folk loitering around that set for a while. I have no doubt time has only christened their set though, and it’s gonna be a healthy vibe switch when every other act turns your head into bass shrapnel.

Speaking of, Jon Casey, unfortunately, wasn’t able to make it out last year. Judging by his TW/TW Global sets over the pandemic, I can’t recommend his music enough. He’s more geared towards the Ivy Lab set of things, blending together dark and deep electronic elements with hype-up, time-to-commit-some-crimes energy drops. It’s in abundance so plan your schedule accordingly.

I had the unique privilege of interviewing the Polish Ambassador a few years back and since then, the man has just simply refused to stop making music. He has almost two decades’ worth of material now and, last I checked, blends them all live together with an iPad. I imagine the method is different now, but the evocation remains familiar. Expect bouncy, verdant bops with a hint of Aayla Nereo. Imagine Of The Tree’s Codex Natura, but, like, the Disney channel version.

We’re also getting Sad Night Dynamite this time around – they were at full form during Portola and were a pleasure to interview as well. Since then, they’ve returned home across the pond and worked on new jams. Expect some new music from them, hopefully in a fast and chaotic direction as that’s where I find them thriving the most.

There’s not much to say about the headliners that aren’t an ostinato. REZZ has been in her own lane for a while, Diplo added Skyline 2023 to his achievement wall (here’s to hoping Diljit Dosanjh inspired him last week), and Zhu captivated Countdown 2023 at 2 am with one of the best openings I’ve seen in a minute. And we’re still only juggling with one hand here: Daily Bread, AHEE, Layla Benitez, Rochelle Jordan (Machinedrum surprise guest?), Beats Antique – it’s overwhelming.

Between all the stages lies a Compass, one to guide you to everything that isn’t music. We often forget Lightning in a Bottle is so much more than just lights and sounds. The Compass is a myriad of artistic collaborations, a creative hub for folks to recharge and reincorporate. The Beacon, the Haven, the Learning Kitchen, and the Eco Hub are just a few – each providing a unique experience tailored to those keen and curious.

Think of them as workshops relevant to communities on both a local and global scale. Sustainability is often the thread between them, but each is a unique reflection of how to sustain meaningfully. In doing so, there is a lot of vivid exposition about psychedelia, climate change, and indigenous cultures. It’s a unique aspect of Lighting in a Bottle that you’re going to be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Another cool element at play is LIB’s Atlaswyld campgrounds. It’s a boutique camping experience with a vast selection of tents and airstreams up for grabs. Aimed at those who want immersion but prefer to be dolled up when the hoopla begins. Most packages are sold out, but you can still find the Zoropa Tent Package and Bambi Airstream Package on the website here.

Everything else is up to you. We can guide you to the lake but we can’t teach you how to rave. Fortunately, you’re in good hands. Lightning in a Bottle 2022 was one of the best festival experiences I’ve had in a long time, cathartic and loud and prismatic to a fault (or lack thereof). Genuinely felt like crossing a river to a whole new world that I had no idea I could reach. Waking up next to a shimmering, serene lake after an evening full of rhythmic madness was all I ever wanted, apparently.

For more resources check out their website here, where you can find the tickets, lineups, camping accommodations, and FAQ. For our coverage of last year’s event, look no further.

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