After months of hype, discussion and debate, the Lightning in a Bottle festival is ready to strike.
Starting Wednesday at Buena Vista Recreational Aquatic Area, this music, food and wellness cavalcade has big plans to uplift Kern’s dancing feet and awareness.
At least that’s what festival co-founder Dede Flemming hopes when the doors open for thousands of festival-goers, many of whom have traveled from across the country, if not the world, to camp and relax. in County Kern.
“We came to the county with a pretty good track record,” said Flemming who, along with brothers Jesse and Josh, founded their Southern California-based arts and music events company Do LaB festival in 2006. ” We have been going to this for 15 years. We have had great success with our events and we are really good at what we do.
Confident words for such an ambitious undertaking which just a few months ago was under intense scrutiny by county agencies. Not to mention criticism from residents and the initial scourge of social media trolls who jumped at the chance to detonate the distant possibility of his move to Kern County after being told he would not be welcome on his former site: San Antonio Reservoir Recreation Area in Monterey County.
Flemming said the county’s stated requirements were nothing the team hadn’t experienced at previous festivals.
He said: âThere are no surprises for us. We prepare too much, produce too much and we want the best show, not only for our participants, but for the people who make it up, the public safety teams and all. people involved. I think they were very surprised with our responses and our concerns, and our preparation. I think that’s what gave them the reassurance that, “OK, these guys are for true. “
Find the place
Traveling across California for the past 10 years in search of potential event locations, the brothers were always surprised to perform on Buena Vista, the man-made waterpark 10 miles west of Interstate 5, between Taft and the southwestern outskirts of Bakersfield.
Flemming said: âTo be perfectly honest, I didn’t even know this (lake) was here. I was really surprised that we didn’t know when we started our search. I started looking at the maps of the county parks and saw this little echo, posted it on google earth and thought, â(expletive), we’ve been through it a trillion times.â So my brothers and I jumped in. in the car and drove there and found out it was quite a place.
Although they arrived in Buena Vista, the brothers were not entirely new to town. Dede covered the Volkslauf run for a reality TV show while working in TV production, and Jesse was in an LA-based band that performed concerts in Bakersfield.
Build the experience
After receiving the green light from the supervisory board to continue the plans, Flemming and his team set to work to transform the recreation area into a full-fledged festival similar to Coachella – where the Do LaB installation area is. become a star attraction.
âWe are moving up the property line and in some areas beyond. We work with a neighbor just north of the park and we rent out his land for camping, parking and so on.
According to the festival’s website, attendees of all experience levels will find what they need to organize their own experience between seven stages and main entertainment areas. This year’s headliners include electronic music groups Disclosure, Big Gigantic, DJ / producer Flying Lotus (performing in 3D), alternative dance icon Santigold, Slovenian EDM producer Gramatik, star of Toro Moi chillwave pop, Latin funk Ozomatli mish-mashers and many more. From the EDM (electronic dance music) world to straddling pop and experimental music and DJ subgenres, if it was invented, there’s a good chance you’ll hear it here.
âParticipants know they are going to see some of their favorites with new artists,â Flemming said. âSo there is a lot of value in knowing that you can go back there and there is a sense of belonging, a familiarity with it all. And at the same time, there is the element of surprise.â
For those concerned about safety at the event, Flemming said respect for other festivals is a common theme spelled out in detail on the festival’s website under the “6 Ways to LIB.”
âWe always try to communicate directly with our audience on the real issues and concerns that arise,â he said. âWe’re talking about caring for each other, addiction, boundaries, mutual respect. These questions raise. It’s not just a music festival; it’s a city.
“There is a way to have a good time by obeying park, festival, local and federal laws. Not just for their safety, but for us and our longevity. We want to keep coming to beautiful places like this. -this. “
To stay within county sound codes, Flemming says steps have been taken to keep decibel levels within legal limits. You can hear some bass in the distance, but unless your residence is a barge on the lake, expect to sleep soundly.
âWe are a 24 hour show. Unlike many other festivals, where people are flushed out by security after the music has ended in the parking lot. At night, it calms down in non-noisy activities, but we go there constantly. Then it turns back on at 7 a.m. and starts over. “
And unlike the extreme heat of over 100 Coachella and Burning Man deserts, regulars and newbies alike can expect five comfortable days with a forecast of 80 to 80.
âOur audience is well prepared, they know what it is. They stay hydrated, they know how to take care of themselves, building shade in their camps. The beauty here is that they don’t have to go far to find a tree to lie under or a lake to jump in.
In addition to the returning participants, Flemming is anxiously waiting for the locals to check this out.
âThis is a one-time event, once a year. We hope people will see this and be pleasantly surprised with what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish. Broaden your horizons, step away from the norm, and just raise your hands and go for it.
Matt Munoz is a contributing columnist for The Californian, covering the Bakersfield music scene.