Music, like love, is one of those things that has a way of leaving an everlasting imprint on the depths of our soul. It’s there for us when no one else is. It’s there to conduct the vibes for some of our greatest times. Music is a means for us to express ourselves; it carries our minds to other realms, to allow us to feel everything or nothing at all. Music serves as a means of teleportation, since jet packs aren’t a thing yet.
All lovers of music know this. When we listen to our favorite album, sometimes we imagine ourselves in these environments that only our wildest dreams could think up. We start to feel the wind on our face, start to smell the trees or ocean breeze. Enough people must have experienced this, too, and finally got together and said, “hey, let’s create an entirely immersive experience for the music aficionado.” Of course, concerts alone can achieve this at times. But, this is merely grazing the surface. Music festivals take this to an entirely different level. They immerse all of our senses and take us on the ride of our lives.
Festivals have this way of blowing our minds completely open and imagining things we never once before dreamt possible. It opens our eyes to the infinite possibility of this existence and leaves us wanting to push the boundaries like never before. Wait. What? Did I just see a unicorn riding a pirate ship whilst eating a veggie burger and listening to my favorite DJ with thousands of my closest friends? Yep. You sure did. This is a dream you never have to wake up from. It is reality. And it’s awesome.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Festivals are no walk in the park. They can be uncomfortable. And at times, downright miserable. They are typically held amongst rugged terrain, extreme temperatures, dust and wind and all the things in between. You’re sleep deprived. You lost a shoe and your car keys. You’re sweating your ass off one minute and freezing the next. You have dirt in places you wish you didn’t. But it is in this uncomfortability that we are forced to step outside of ourselves, crawl out of our shell a bit, let our guards down and just dive in, head first, to the weirdness. For it is at the end of our comfort zone that life begins. And it is in these moments when we can surprise ourselves the most.
In fact, my first time ever visiting California was to attend Lightning in a Bottle. I was turning 21 and wanted to treat myself to an adventure. I decided to take a Greyhound bus from New Orleans to Los Angeles, where I then hitchhiked my way to the festival. I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready to experience whatever was thrown my way. And my-oh-my what an adventure that was!
I saw things I never knew existed. I heard music that made my body move in ways it never had before. I experienced anxiety when throwing my garbage away because I didn’t know which part of my meal to put into which bin. Reigning from the land of all things fried, I had never heard of compost. The people were breathtakingly beautiful. The food was deliciously fresh. Everyone treated you as family. No matter where you came from, no matter your story, you were home. My mind, body, and soul had been totally set aflame.
I started to completely change my mentality and way of life after that. And no, this was not as a result of the intake of substances. This was pure observation turned into extreme motivation and inspiration. I wanted everyone I knew to experience this. This was the future. This was hope for humankind. I started thinking, if we can live our everyday lives the ways we conduct ourselves at festivals, what a beautiful world this would be. The sense of community, the love, the self-expression. Wow! All the things, full force, in all its positive glory.
The Do Lab are masters of this craft. Their events, particularly Lightning in a Bottle, are seamless. It is beautiful. It is damn near perfect. Despite their massive growth in recent years, they still manage to uphold their ethos. A place where music, art, sustainability, and intention fuse together, magnificently. People come from all over the world to experience the magic they create and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. LIB has a special place in my heart, as it was the first west coast festival I ever experienced.
I loved it so much I kept coming back. It became an annual pilgrimage of sorts for me, a soul pilgrimage. After graduating college and moving abroad, I eventually found myself yearning for that sense of community and inspiration immersion I had yet to experience anywhere else. With time, that desire increased and I decided the only way to cure my craving was to move back to the states and make the west coast my permanent home. And here I am.
Dozens upon dozens of festivals under my belt and hundreds of new best friends later, I am reminded time and time again that humans are awesome. When we come together with the right mindset, we have the capability to create really, incredibly beautiful stuff. Music makes the world go ‘round. Festivals show us that we can, in fact, live in a world based on acceptance and connection. If you don’t believe me, find out for yourself. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, buy the ticket, take the ride.