[nggallery id=38]Photos by P.J. Nutting and Brian Brace
Words by P.J. Nutting
Now that the sparkle of Lightning in a Bottle had mellowed, now that the awe had dimmed a little bit below “blinding,” now that we had heard LIB veterans declare the festival would never be as good as the first year they went — it was all piecing together how 2013 would really be remembered.
I started to get the sense that the festival apparatus had grown faster than the community itself. Though I mean this in a loving way, LIB felt like a teenager always on the verge of tripping over his rapidly-growing feet. When they weren’t packed with people during peak hours, the open grounds felt like the hand-me-down sweatshirt. However steezy, it just didn’t seem to fit like it should. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT the type of person to shun newcomers, as I’m not even sure to what extent I belonged at LIB myself. But had such rapid growth really been worth it?
The legal problems were becoming too blatant to ignore. The daunting panopticon of the Riverside Sheriff Department, hovering high and above the crowd of the LIB Stage, was a jarring sight to behold. Can anyone say “surveillance state”? There was also word that the “no nudity” rule was being enforced to the point that a girl in pasties was apprehended as she exited the porties and thrown right out the gates. Who doesn’t like titties? Apparently, the Riverside P.D. And by the end of Saturday night, the number of drug-related entrapment arrests were in triple digits (one of our camp members said he had money stuffed into his pocket to justify an arrest for distribution). If it wasn’t bad enough, the too-good-to-be-true “waterpark” was only one spout that turned on for less than an hour. Perhaps most egregious was the fact that Rusko was headlining that night.
It was easy to find people who agreed the clownish DJ was a horrible choice for the Saturday headliner, symbolically the one leading the spirit of this “conscious” festival. I personally think that his music only gets worse as time goes on, and each live set I see (beginning with SnowBall two years ago) only get more sloppy. It also felt like a concession to the masses, as if The Do LaB didn’t trust the rest of their lineup to draw the kind of numbers they wanted. Was it a “you get what you wish for” effect that left people wondering what was up with that weird-ass Nicolas Jaar character? I am mad I missed his set, because I refuse to believe it was as divisive as everyone acted.
Rusko, as it turns out, played a pretty fun set. I went solely as a media obligation and I left feeling way better about things. Lots of people had fun, and at the end of the day, that’s what mattered. And you have to give The Do LaB some heady points for the rest of the LIB Stage booking, which included an Earth Harp performance, another mind-bending vaudevillian projection-mapped lucid dream from Quixotic, a serious place to vibe with Eskmo, and some requisite indie vibes from Blackbird Blackbird. What was I complaining about, again?
Saturday was all about the Bamboo Stage, anyway. Beginning with Kaminanda and Andreilien blasting it off proper, there was a new and incredibly squishy mud pit to behold. Photographers were drawn like flies to shit. I think at least one professional career was ruined in that mud pit; it’s possible a child was conceived in it. Mud was smeared all over faces and titties and glopped into big mud balls that would hit someone with a satisfying “thwack.” I saw someone walk over and just dunk their face into it like a banana cream pie. I also think about fifty people walked over to the nearest water spout, saw the “No Bathing” sign, and said a resounding “Fuck that!”
My absolute favorite set of the weekend was Kastle. Not only is Kastle‘s music just the right amount of heavy and groovy, it’s magical enough you’re liable to fall in love with someone dancing near you. GRiZ, though I’m not as surprised by his music as others, was definitely a conversation piece as well. I’m pretty sure that when most people arrived at the Bamboo Stage on Saturday, they stayed. When I arrived to shoot a few pics of LowRIDERz, the place was packed from the back of the field to the rear of the stage itself. Shouts out to Gladkill for some proper energy as well.