Memorial day weekend is over and gone with it is yet another magically dusty weekend known as Lightning in a Bottle. This years lineup brought the biggest names the festival has seen to date, and with that came the first sold out weekend in the history of LIB. This resulted in positives and negatives, but mostly was another piece of the puzzle in what became another extremely memorable weekend in the dust, even in the midst of mind altering and memory reducing substances. Last year was my first time at LIB, but given that this was the first year LIB sold out there were a few changes I noticed between this year and last.
The first change is bro’s. Last year I don’t remember seeing any pure frat bro’s (or at least wasn’t affected by any marauding groups of them), while this year was a different story. With artists like Flume and Odesza it was no surprise that the demographic would be a little different at times, and while I still met countless amazing individuals I had at least one memorable experience with a group of frat bro’s. During Odesza I was trying to make my way through an absolutely packed Lightning stage to find my group of friends. Eventually this just wasn’t happening so I settled in where I could. This happened to be next to a large group of wasted frat bro’s sporting their letters and screaming about nothing for the duration of the set. Now I have nothing against the greek system in general, but when its members are drunk with that mob mentality thinking they can disregard the concerns of those around them, it can be bothersome. Anyways, after being pushed and ran into for a few songs I made my way to another section of the dance floor. Either way, this is not something I experienced last year.
This transitions into my next observed change, crowds. Now last years lineup wasn’t by any means bad. It was amazing. However this years lineup brought more people, and thus more people to deal with. I don’t remember any sets last year where I couldn’t get to a reasonable area in around the middle area of the dance floor where I could easily see the stage while still having space to dance. This year crowds at certain sets seemed more like EDC than LIB. Odesza and Flume in particular brought large crowds of people all pushing trying to get a better spot, making it hard for anyone not waiting for the set to find a reasonable space to see the stage and dance. This didn’t by any means apply to all sets, but for the more popular ones it was definitely a thing.
Speaking of people, leaving the festival was difficult last year being that the road that takes you out of the area is essentially one functional lane. The amount of people this year made leaving the festival take roughly twice as long, maybe more. Getting out of the only general parking lot took 4 and a half hours, my car was in the same spot for literally 2 hours and only started to move once everyone started honking and someone a little higher on the food chain within the LIB staff came and got things moving. It sucked.
Now, I know these changes are all negative, and while they were things that bothered me this year that didn’t happen to the same degree last year, I don’t want to give the wrong impression. LIB is an amazing festival. It is simply a transformational festival that is edging into the mainstream, so it is expected that some of the difficulties that come with more mainstream festivals would start to appear within this one. If anything, I’m glad that it is accessing groups that maybe would never go to a smaller transformational festival, maybe it will spark something in someone that otherwise would never have been accessed. With Burning Man now being frequented by tech billionaires with luxury camps and sherpas it’s no secret that these types of things are becoming popular, so as the landscape of these transformational festivals transform, the O.G. festival goers will find new ways to enjoy their festivals how they see fit. Anyhow, I for one will definitely be going to LIB again. See you next year.