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For Funks Sake

California has many unique locations to choose from when it comes to festival venues; there’s the redwoods in the east, deserts in the south, and snow capped mountains in the west. With all these locations to choose from, dozens of electronic festivals, bass raves, mainstream mega festivals, and low key jam/folk festivals occur through the year…but not a lot of funk/soul type festivals if you think about it. Well…let me tell you a little bit about a funk festival that is located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains that usually occurs the second weekend of the month of August.

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For the Funk of It Music Festival is California’s only 3 day all funk camping music festival and is located in the Plumas National Forest two hours northeast of Sacramento, CA in a hidden gem of a town called Belden. It took place from August 10-13th this year and celebrated its 5th wonderful year at the beloved Belden Town. With a festival max capacity of just over 1000 people, due to the land space of the town being so small, it makes way for a very intimate and wildly euphoric experience as you are implanted into the mountainside as this lively festival takes place.

Belden

Besides a small motel, restaurant, bar, a few cabin homes, and a tiny post office not much else is there but open land, which makes finding a camping spot for you and your crew very easy. While some people may bring their RVs and camp at the front of the festival grounds there are many beach access locations, tree covered flat land or hammock worthy spots to choose from as you walk down the path to get to the rest of the venue.

The overall vibe of the festival is something I know and love and is probably one of my favorite aspects of the festival. Everyone who goes there, whether it’s families with kids, young adults,  old hippies, unfamiliar festival folk with a love for brass, whoever…everyone gets along and no one puts up with any bad energy, shady behavior, or close mindedness. Every attendee smiles as they cross in passing and you can just feel the accepting nature of those that come to this festival. Every individual who comes to this festival just wants to have a good time enjoying good, live music in a beautiful environment during the summertime!

For the Funk of It, though small in size due to the intimate size of Belden, has 3 stages: the main stage, which sits more towards the front of the festival venue in a cleared out space with trees shading around it; the beach stage, which is pretty self explanatory- a stage on the main beach access part of the river where hundreds of people bring out there floaties while raging to the music; and the bar stage, which is inside the restaurant/bar part of the motel building that allows folks to dance inside while enjoying their cocktails and food. With all the music played at the festival being of funk genre, For the Funk of It does a good job of making sure bands do not overlap too much so the attendees are able to optimize their time at each stage without missing too much.

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Speaking of music, FTFOI always seems to get a lively bunch of artists to be on the lineup. From Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Afrolicious, Nigel Hall Band, and funk bands everywhere in between, FTFOI bring in musicians that the crowd will dance their asses to until the sunrises, literally! There technically is no noice ordinance so the festival is allowed to schedule music to play until sunrises, which of course it does! This year some of my favorites who blessed us all with their talent were: Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Smokey the Groove, Mojo Green and Diggin’ Dirt.

When a last minute band cancellation happened Friday afternoon of FTFOI, none other than Smokey the Groove saved the day by gracing us with their lively sound during that Friday evening slot. Their music is unique and one that I thoroughly enjoy listening to every chance I get; their progressive yet upbeat, trippy style funk music has you breaking out in an energetic dance that you are happy to get lost in. Their stage presence is also so fun and memorable! They always bring different signs, toys, props, etc that they decorate the stage with and will sometimes dance around with masks on, to me that brings such an authentic vibe. I truly enjoy their music and get more and more excited about their sets each time they play whether at a festival or show, love you guys! Diggin’ Dirt came on later that night and oh man was that a fun show to witness and dance to. They gave the audience a sexy, smooth funk style whose sound ranges from old school blues to reggae-rock. Diggin’ Dirt is the type of music you can feel your whole body swaying to as you feel the sounds of the drums, brass and vocals flowing through your soul. Jenes Carter from Mojo Green ended up being a special guest during part of their set and hearing her and DD’s lead singer, Zach Alder, vibe together was such a good time.

Ok now for my other favorite sets this year. Mojo Green with Hornmageddon both seem to be a staple group and performance that happen at For the Funk of It. Mojo Green bursts onto the stage every time with such energy in their funky music that it will surely light you up. Their lead singer, Jenes Carter, has a beautiful voice and her spit fire dance moves get you excited as you see her petite self groovin away. A fun surprise during their set this year was that they brought Big Sam, from Big Sam’s Funky Nation, onto their set and let him absolutely kill it on his trombone, hitting these intense brassy notes that had us all vibrating. Now, what is Hornmageddon you’re probably asking? Well during the Mojo Green set they had a large selection of brass players from the various bands that were also performing at this festival come onto the stage and basically rage out all together on their instruments! How crazy is that?! It’s honestly one of the highlights of the festival because that’s just so much brassy, funky goodness all happening in harmony and there’s nothing better than that.

My final favorite set at For the Funk of it was the one and only: Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Big Sam and his band have such a presence to them, both in person and in their music. Their music is both invigorating and smooth, all while blasting you with that true New Orleans jazz-funk that we don’t hear enough of on the west coast. Big Sam’s Funky Nation has a way of getting you to move your entire body in such a way that could honestly only resemble that of a noodle, you find yourself doing endless body rolls all over the place and it’s as if you are under some kind of spell. Big Sam always gives it his all and you can tell him and his band have such a great time performing and dancing to their own music. They also love to engage the crowd in their performance; during part of their set they ended up hand selecting different women from the crowd to come on stage with them and shake all that junk in their trunks; it was so fun and a carefree show!

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For the Funk of It is a wonderful festival experience that I think everyone should go check out; whether you’re a die hard funk music listener, only know of one James Brown song, or enjoy live music but have never gotten around to the funk genre! The venue itself is quaint and perfect for people that want to get away from the large, hectic festival life or just want to enjoy a more intimate camping experience in the woods. Music goes all day and all night and people have the freedom to sleep into the afternoon, run around in the wildest toucan onesie or splash around in a floatie on the river at 4am (while of course being careful and at their own risk). The people who go to For the Funk of It want to enjoy live music in a beautiful part of California and make the most of an August weekend. I have yet to have a negative experience at For the Funk of It and I can’t wait to watch this festival grow even more.

On another note I’d like to thank Tony Dellacioppa for allowing me to share with you a few pictures he took of my favorite bands I enjoyed seeing this year, I only took a couple videos the entire weekend so I appreciate him so much for his quality photography. Thank you For the Funk of It for a memorable 5th year, see you next year!

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Bassrush: A Review

This past weekend was proof that even when Jess and I don’t plan on going to a festival, we somehow still end up at a festival! You seriously can’t make this stuff up!

While visiting friends in Long beach for a much needed girls weekend, Jess and I were surprised with guest list spots for Bassrush, a two-day massive put on by Insomniac Events. Big shout out to our friend Marlee for making this happen for us! Bassrush occurs at the NOS center in San Bernardino and focuses solely on bass music (shocking, I know!) Not only is bass music one of my favorites, but I hadn’t been to an event like this in years, making me pretty excited to get to experience this!

Insomniac did a great job organizing this massive, making it really easy and painless to get through security and leave the event at the end of the night. There were also plenty of water refill stations, which is super important, especially at an outdoor summer event like this. I  never had to wait in line for food, drinks, or to use the bathroom! For the size of the event, I was pretty impressed!

After getting past security, we were immediately mesmerized by the fountains and water surrounding them; the water was almost shimmering from all the lights strung above and in the trees. It was simple, but so pretty to look at! I also loved the multi-colored light structures they had by the stages. I think they did a great job at keeping production simple but still having fun lights and structures! The most impressive part of production in my opinion was all the LASERS! They were beautiful and different colored and coming from every direction at some of the stages! So ridiculously cool.

Music-wise, I was so happy with this lineup! There were so many favorites on here that I ended up having to make some hard choices on who to see versus miss. This lineup had favorites like Minnesota, G Jones, Zomboy, Bleep Bloop, Yheti, 12th Planet, and so many more! I have to give it up to Adventure Club, hands down this was my favorite set of the weekend! Adventure Club was the group that originally got me into electronic music back in college, and I’ve never been the same since! This set was full of nostalgia as they played old favorites like “Gold” and “Rise and “Fall”. I loved how on songs like “Gold” they stayed true to the song by starting it out slow and stripped down with the vocals, eventually building it up to an amazing drop I could just lose myself dancing to. You could feel the excitement in the crowd building as everyone realized the song they were going to end their set with was “Crave You”! I think I speak for a lot of people when I say “Crave You” introduced me to Adventure Club, and it will always bring up all the feels. Adventure Club was a feel-good dance party from start to finish, and I was left feeling such a sense of euphoria.

My other favorite of the weekend had to be G Jones. I’ve seen G jones a few times now, and I feel like each time he still somehow manages to surprise me with his set. This time around, (maybe it was just because I was riding the rails) it was the most bass in my face set I have ever experienced from him. The bass was vibrating through my body to the point where I just felt frozen in place, with a permanent stank face on. The whole time I was thinking, yup, this bass is swallowing me up. I felt like I could stay lost there forever, without really knowing what time it was or where I was, completely taken over by the bass. Thank you G Jones for such a memorable set!

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I have to mention DC Breaks as they were my surprise of the weekend! I had never heard of them before, but they ended up being a really fun drum and bass sound. Highlight of the set was when the singer made eye contact with me, jumped down right in front of where I was standing, and handed me the Titos bottle he was chugging from! Too funny!

Bassrush was such a fun event with beautiful people in attendance! Everyone was so nice, and I always felt like I had enough room to dance and move around. No one was pushing or shoving to get to the front, which can be so prevalent at EDM events. Great job to Insomniac for putting on such a fun event with a dope lineup! We had the best time dancing and headbanging to the point where we were all sore the next day. One for the books!

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😸 Kritter Klips ✨

Alright everyone, the very long anticipated review for the one and only: Kritter Klips! Now, as you all have probably noticed on our Instagram pages, we have recently taken a fully committed liking (more like obsession) to the festival accessory company, Kritter Klips. So here’s the scoop. Kritter Klips is based in the CA Bay Area and is a company that sells high quality, handmade clip-in animal ears! How adorable is that concept? If some of you are thinking ‘what’s the big deal?’ or ‘that’s ridiculous,’ then you have obviously not given it a try and have no idea how fun these accessories can be. If the rest of you are thinking ‘that’s so fun, I want to try on a pair’ or ‘yesss, I love them’ then congrats, you’re on the right side of the world 😉 But honestly, you can wear these ears for whatever occasion you want: concerts, festivals, random outings, etc. These clip-in ears are a fun, durable piece you can add to any look. They are sewn onto a standard hair clip so you just place them where you want them on your head, clip and you’re good to go! Dancing, running, flailing around…they’ll stay put.

I first came into contact with Kritter Klips a few years ago when I first got into attending festivals in 2015 and noticed their vendor booth at festivals like High Sierra, Lightning in a Bottle and Outside Lands. At first glance I was in love with the many styles, textures and colors that Kritter Klips has to offer but also how incredibly soft all the ears are! I think it was the initial factor of them being something different than the standard festival vendor that attracted me, they sell ears! How fun and different can you get? So each festival I attended I’d make a stop at the Kritter Klips booth, chat with the employees, gawk over all the festive ears they had to offer and told myself one day I’d commit and finally be able to rock a pair of festival ears.

So here’s the sappy story on how I finally popped my Kritter Klips “cherry”. It happened this year at Gem & Jam Music Festival 2018. I was checking out the vendors and happened to noticed that Kritter Klips was vending which I was happily surprised, but also not surprised, to see. After chatting with one of the employees for a few minutes and telling him my search for my first pair he pulled out one of the most perfect set of Kritter Klips ears I had ever laid eyes on: the limited edition Red Silk Road ears. The ears were dark brown with light brown tips which perfectly matched my hair and therefore gave a “realistic” look to them when I had them on, but what really sold me was the beautiful red and black silk material on the inner part of the ears. The guy explained how the inside was from Chinese silk gowns and therefore they only had a limited amount available of that kind and color. They were perfect, I was in love, I had to have them. And just like that they were on my head and I was prancing around for the rest of the festival as happy as a kid on Christmas Day. I felt so free, like I belonged to something bigger, like I had found my festival “niche” in a sense. It seemed silly to me that something as simple as clip-in animal ears would give me such joy, but it did, and still does.

Fast forward to now and I love being involved in the Kritter Klips family and love to promote their brand as much as I can, because I want to spread the excitement and love their ears so much. I occasionally chat with them via Instagram and always try to stay in the loop with what’s next for the Kritter Klips brand. What’s even better is that both us Festival Babes got a chance to be a part of their “new faces of Kritter Klips” photo shoot they were holding at Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival this year! We both noticed on their Instagram page that they were looking for people to get involved and we jumped right on it. At Lightning in a Bottle we brought a friend of ours along to the meet up and met the Kritter Klips crew at their vendor booth and were introduced to their talented photographer, James, of James R Photography, who would be shooting all of us. James and the Kritter Klips staff were all so friendly and genuine right from the start, which made it easy to feel excited about the shoot. The crew helped pick out two matching sets of ears to wear with our festival outfits we wore to the shoot and then we got the shoot going. The photo shoot was a relaxed forum and a lot of fun and we got along so naturally with the other three girls that were apart of it. For real, check out James on Instagram, he’s based in the King City, CA area and loves doing creative shoots! Anyways, after we were done taking pictures the Kritter Klips crew told us that as a thank you for our participation we would be able to take a pair of ears home with us, as a gift! How nice is that?! Just another reason why we love this crew and this company so much.

As of now I currently have five pairs of Kritter Klips ears and my fellow Festival Babe partner has two; some as gifts, some from online purchases, some from festivals, and we don’t really plan on stopping. Kritter Klips has such a fun and carefree vibe that the company exudes through their workers and all the styles they create with their ears and we are so glad to be apart of the family. The ears represent more than just a random festival accessory you can wear; you can create a whole new look or persona by putting them on and wearing them at whatever event you choose to. We had a wonderful time at the LiB photoshoot and really appreciated the opportunity to be a face for Kritter Klips. We definitely look forward to many more encounters with the Kritter Klips crew in the future and can’t wait to go to our next festival, ears and all! They’re just so darn cute and a great way to bring excitement to your style and next event! Who wouldn’t want to be a kritter? ❤

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Lightning in a Bottle 2018 FULL RECAP

If you read our hype post for Lightning in a Bottle this year, then you know it is our most highly anticipated event. Four days in the desert with a lake right there, what could be better??! We were so excited to hear that the level of Lake San Antonio was high enough to swim in, even though it was much lower than last year. Having a lake at a festival is a game changer for many reasons, and we took full advantage by getting our float on in our ridiculously large floaties!

Lightning in a Bottle, a festival by Do LaB, is known for being about more than the music, featuring workshops, yoga, and many interactive structures and places to play! Some of our favorite structures this year were the spinning orb “Zoa” (which actually broke off one of the days and had to be reattached), Grandma’s House (a shrine to retreat to and meditate in), the Hideout structure (which you could climb in to view the whole fest), and the ferris wheel! There were also some interactive events planned like the Soap-Box Derby, where contestants create their own crazy vehicles and race down a huge hill on Saturday! There was always so much going on as you walked through the festival, like live painters and even fire spinners. The festival goers themselves were even their own works of art, as people really go all out with their outfits. LIB is a place where you can truly express yourself, and we loved seeing the crazy outfits people have come up with or created themselves.

 

Even though Lightning in a Bottle is known for being about more than just the music, they featured an amazing lineup this year, with artists from MK to Giraffage to Tokimonsta to Anderson Paak, and everything played in between. We’ll be reviewing some of our favorite artists below, but I wish we had time to review so many more people!

Entering the Festival

One thing LIB always does well is get people into the festival quickly, trying to get people off the roads as much as they can. Our group got into line around 11 am and it probably only took us around an hour to get into the festival and to our camping spot! I was pretty impressed by how quickly we got in. What I was not impressed with is how they got rid of free-form camping this year. LIB has always been a festival where you find a spot wherever you’d like, and take up as much room as your group needs. There have never been assigned spaces or people telling you where to go. This year was completely different, making me feel like LIB has gotten one too many tips from Coachella. We were directed to our spot, and the volunteers wouldn’t let us drive anywhere else to see if there was more space elsewhere. We were then squished in next to other cars as close as they could get us. We had to fight for more space, trying to explain to the volunteers that we had ten people’s worth of tents to set up, even though we only had two cars. One volunteer in particular was pretty rude to us, mocking us for needing more space. Thankfully we were able to get the amount of space we needed, but it was a weird way to start off the festival, leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

We realized after failed attempts to get the rest of our group to our campsite, that they had camped us in the lakebed. We weren’t even on the map! We had been giving our group wrong directions the whole time as we were under the assumption that we were the last camping area before the lake. There were no marked streets, no water stations, and barely enough restrooms. I was pretty disappointed that LIB would camp people in areas not even set up for camping just to cram more people in.

Even though it was a weird start, we were ready for some music! Below we’ve reviewed some of our favorites.

Buyepongo

Our group was walking across the bridge on Friday night, headed toward the Thunder stage. At this point we didn’t have anyone in particular we wanted to see and were hoping to stumble upon someone good. All of a sudden we hear what sounded like cumbia music coming from the Beacon on our left. Jess and I took one look at each other, yelled YES, and took off sprinting toward it. Our group had no choice but to take off after us (sorry not sorry). We proceeded to stumble upon an amazing, latin-infused, ridiculously upbeat dance party! The band (we didn’t find out their name until the very end of the set) had many live instruments playing while the lead singer kept us all involved with chants and shout outs. This isn’t your traditional cumbia band; there were elements of cumbia, merengue, and African beats, all blended into a style they call “buyangu”. We danced hard, we danced fast, and we left that place thinking, this is the magic of LIB. Discovering bands you had no idea existed or ever thought would be playing at a festival like this, that’s the magic!

GRiZ

Oh GRiZ…you seriously have my heart. Both your music and your personality are just so genuine that I think you’d have to be a heartless, tone deaf alien to not fall in love. I’ve seen GRiZ and Muzzy perform together on stage countless times at this point (can we please be bffs?!) and by the end of each set I just want more…honestly I could listen to their music nonstop and never get tired of it. GRiZ started off his set at the Lightning stage with a bang, like always. His energy and music is just so personable and upbeat it was no surprise to see everyone around me in that super packed crowd jumping up and down and vibing to the feel good music. He was constantly killin’ it on the sax while Muzzy would be jammin’ and shredding the guitar throughout the set, adding to the electronic funkiness that we all know and love so much. What I really appreciated about GRiZ’s set was that it wasn’t predictable; many artists that tour may play the same type of set when they go to festivals and concerts, and having gone to many GRiZ shows, I could tell that he was mixing things up and keeping the crowd on their toes.

I don’t know how one can make the perfect blend of brassy goodness with hard hitting upbeat electronic notes, but GRiZ does it with ease. GRiZ and Muzzy looked to be having the time of their lives as they danced around on stage playing such loving and animated music for all of us to groove to. They even did some funky remixes and had everyone dancing to the songs of the ‘70s, which was both invigorating and refreshing since everyone in the crowd was into it, no one had any judgements or negative vibes. That is one important factor about GRiZ and the music he creates, the people and crowd that are attracted to his music are full of love and acceptance, just wanting to have a good time with all those around them. GRiZ does a fantastic job making sure that music goers understand his music and environment is a safe space for all walks of life, and I can tell he is doing a beautiful job holding that platform true. The big screens on the side of the stage were constantly flashing a collage of images that all centered around fighting injustice and coming together for peace and love, and I can’t think of anyone more appropriate to spread this message than GRiZ. Besides the set being flawless, musically speaking, it was also a full-on experience. Every festival attendee who had the pleasure of listening to GRiZ’s set that Friday night walked away feeling wholesome and optimistic for what’s to come, whether that be in life, at the festival, or just for that night…GRiZ makes sure we have all been touched by the power of music, every time.

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Glitch Mob

I’ve had an unhealthy (or very healthy depending how you look at it) obsession with The Glitch Mob ever since my first LIB in 2016. When I was listening to the lineup, I realized all 3 members were going to be there, but as their other musical projects. Ooah and edIT had a set together, Panytraid closed out Sunday night, and Boreta had a surprise set at the Pagoda bar. Then in 2017 when they made a surprise appearance at edIT’s set, I about lost it. I have been patiently waiting for them to be on a LIB lineup officially, so this year they were my most anticipated set. To make it even better, they had just released their new album in three years, “See Without Eyes” which I thoroughly enjoyed. They managed to take their music in a different direction while staying true to their glitchy sound.

This was the only set of the whole weekend that I showed up early to in order to get right up to the front, I wasn’t messing around! The stage was set up with these huge gears in the background, with three touch-screen dj stands set up, and drums next to each of them. The lights go off, the lights start changing colors, and the glitchy goodness begins to vibrate through my soul. They start off into Fortune Days, asking us if we are ready. The crowd cheers (because how could we not be ready?!), and here we go. They alternate between who is playing the drums versus djing, and you can just see how into the set they’re getting. We’re all right there with them, lost in the music, dancing way too hard. My favorite part of seeing The Glitch Mob has always been how you can feel their music penetrate you and vibrate through your whole body. You’re not just listening with your ears, you’re experiencing it with your whole body. If you haven’t had the chance to see them live, you need to! They absolutely killed it, making them arguably one of the best sets of the whole weekend.

NAO

Can we talk about NAO, please?! Like…where have you been my whole life?! Not only was she one of the artists I was unfamiliar with until I got to the festival, but she is a serious force to be reckoned with, and I am so disappointed in myself for not finding her in the music world earlier. A goddess. A powerhouse. Her voice…holy shit. I get emotional just thinking about her set because of how powerful her lyrics are and how on point her voice is. Our group had done a lot of wandering and exploring after Tokimonsta’s set and were wanting to get a clear ear shot of NAO’s performance. We decided that instead of being in the crowd at the Lightning stage, where she would be performing, we would be all the way back by one of the crossing bridges near the vendors on that same patch of land and post up there; i’m so happy we did that. NAO begins her set and we are all speechless and amazed. Even from all the way back there the sound was so strong we could hear her sing perfectly and even hear the band with no issues.

Her voice is both angelic and emotional, wrapping around you and giving you a sense of both ease and desire with its unique sound. Her sound is soulful, with notes of r&b and even funk at times, and it just made me want more and more from her. As we sat and watched from afar I could see how entranced my group also was in her set, which seemed very significant to me due to our group enjoying all different types of genres…but NAO was the one style of artist that we could all love and appreciate. What made me respect NAO even more was that during the middle of her set she began to sing her song “Bad Blood”, and less than a minute in she stopped the band, stopped singing, and told the crowd that she didn’t think the sound was up to par with what she was wanting to give us and thus began to redo the song! Having an artist know what a song should sound like, being strict with wanting to give nothing but perfection, and actually deciding to start over at a live set is something that is rare to find nowadays! That really made my mind up, NAO’s performance was one of my favorite performances I’ve ever witnessed at a festival or concert.

CloZee

We had just gotten into line for the small ferris wheel when I realized CloZee’s set had begun. Though I was initially wanting to see CloZee’s entire set I was happily surprised to notice, once on the ferris wheel, that the sound quality was so on point I was easily able to listen to the beginning of her set. Once finished with our ride we briskly walked over the the Thunder stage to see CloZee perform and oh man was it a fun set to listen and dance to. First off, the crowd was huge but we had no troubles wiggling our way deeper into the stage and found a comfortable spot near what I believe to be the sound control booth. Though distant from the stage I could still see CloZee on stage swaying to her music while smiling as she witnessed all of us LiB attendees grooving to her eastern and tribal influenced electronic music.

She played all my favorites, never missing the beats of the Japanese rooted sounds she and I love so much, and always allowing the instrumentals within her songs to tell the crowd a story. The bass was also so fun and intense, but in a good and not overwhelming kind of way! During parts of her set, the bass would vibrate the wall of the sound control booth, and I couldn’t help but move closer to it, wanting to feel the vibrations and dive further into a trance. Besides the beautifully engaging music she gave us, CloZee also brought out fire spinners who did a wonderful job exciting the crowd with their skill, using high end lasers throughout the set. It was a magically hypnotizing performance that left me wanting more.

Zhu

After Clozee’s set I was even more excited to see what Zhu had in store for us on our last night at LiB. Our group took a quick bathroom and water station break and then headed over to the Lightning stage to prepare ourselves for the sounds of Zhu. The stage was packed; it was very difficult to get anywhere within the designated area for that stage, but we managed to squeeze ourselves onto the right side of the stage and essentially be in the front. The stage lit up and the lights began to go on and off in a dimmed pattern until finally the music begun, a darker downtempo vibe that I can only describe as both seductive and trance-like. The video screens would show silhouettes of Zhu, the sax player and guitarist in strobe style fashion as the music progressed into a full blown hard-hitting underground/ industrial vibe, both exciting and intriguing the crowd.

He played a few songs from his latest album, Ringos Desert Pt 1, which showed a much more intense and haunting side of Zhu than we are used to. At the same time, it was so refreshing to hear these new songs in a live setting and see all the realms of entertainment Zhu can bring forth to us. The sax, guitar and piano were three components that really pushed the set to perfection. The crowd would be flowing into the mysterious tunnel Zhu was leading us into, and then one of these instruments would come out in full force, leaving us melting in response to this beautiful fusion of both live and progressive electronic music. He played all his classics and even remixed a couple classics by adding more sax into the beat to really set the mood. He even played a few songs that he had remixed from other artists and surprisingly added a trap style influence to the songs and/or would add a sense of rock to the songs. Somehow the music still blended together so well. His set was both moody and addicting and I loved every second of it. Good job, Zhu.

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Con Brio

Con Brio is a group that I had been wanting to see for quite some time. I was bummed out when I couldn’t see them perform in San Francisco for this past New Years but I was determined to make their set at LiB, even if it was late at night and on the last day of the festival. Con Brio, musically, means “with spirit” or “with vigor” and boy do they bring that energy tenfold. After Zhu’s set finished at the Lightning stage I convinced the remaining members of my group who were out to rush over to the Grand Artique where Con Brio would be playing so they too could experience the liveliness of this band. This band is one of the most alive and energetic bands I think I have ever experienced in my life; they fully engulf themselves into their music and you can see how much passion they have for the sounds they’re creating. The lead singer, Ziek, had a very memorable and interactive stage performance; whether it was flips, dancing next to his bandmates, or doing dance moves that brought us all back to the Michael Jackson and James Brown times, he kept our attention and had us hypnotized.

One thing about rock & roll soul music that makes it so special is that it really is infectious! The brass instruments flowing through the air, the beautiful singing, the drum and guitars fusing it all together in harmony…you can’t not go into a full body groove as the music fills your soul. Con Brio even let people get on stage! About three quarters of the way through the two hour set Ziek started grabbing girls at the front of the stage and let them dance right next to him. The friendly energy was so exciting to see and the bandmates were all the more happy to share the stage with fans that truly loved the music they were playing. Another factor that made me appreciate the band that much more was that each was able to have a mini solo on stage during their set and it all seemed to work in their favor. By the end of the set there were dozens of people on the stage, shaking their booties while smiling and laughing at the whole experience. Con Brio finished the set horns blazing, drums vibrating the stage, and Ziek doing a flip and ending in the splits. My cheeks were sore from smiling the whole set but I was so in love and so satisfied with the weekend coming to an end like that. I turned to my friends and they all just looked amazed, one asking, “why aren’t they on the mainstage?” and I just smiled and knew I had succeeded in showing my friends what fire this style of music brings to the world. Con Brio, thank you for lighting up my last night at LiB, I can’t wait to see you again.

Rollerblading

A brand new interactive area this year was a roller rink called Rink Dink. It was set up on the ramp next to the ferris wheel, giving you an amazing view of the festival as you skated. I was so happy to hear that it was free to skate, meaning all I needed to do was sign a waiver and tell them my shoe size! The rink was 80’s themed, featuring all of your favorite musical hits and even a disco ball! This was definitely one of my favorite moments of the festival, getting to skate with everyone all dressed up in their festival outfits, and seeing everyone acting like a little kid again!

 

Kritter Klips Photoshoot! ✨✨

One of our favorite moments of the festival was being part of a photoshoot for Kritter Klips, one of our favorite vendors! The shoot was done by the sweet and talented James, who owns James R. Photography. We had so much fun with all of them that we will be covering this in a separate review for Kritter Klips! Stay tuned!

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Themed Days

We wanted to make this year a little more fun and decided to coordinate themed outfit days for our group. Our 10 person crew did not disappoint! We came out full force Thursday night in our 80’s outfits all ready to hit up 80’s Prom at the Favela Bar with Kraddy and Patricio. Dancing the night away to 80’s and 90’s hits was the perfect start to our weekend! Friday night was onesie night, so we got to spend the night frolicking around the festival like the animals we are. We were so pleasantly surprised to see many other groups also decide to rock onesies that night, meaning the festival was overflowing with creatures! Saturday was tie dye day, and we finally got to show off all the great tie dye we had made ourselves!

 

White Library

I first saw the White Library in 2017 and was so glad to see that it was brought back! The structure has beautiful art on the outside of the white walls and has no roof, with multiple entrances. The inside is left blank, a canvas ready for festival goers to write inspirational quotes, feelings, or anything they can think of! There’s something liberating about writing your thoughts on the wall, knowing they will be anonymous and most likely read by others later on. It’s also great to return to the White Library later on in the festival and see what everyone else has written! I was very disappointed to learn that this year people ended up tagging the outside of the White Library with spray paint, ruining the beautiful art. The tagging was so bad that the creator decided they will not be bringing this interactive area back next year. This is yet another example of the culture of LIB starting to change as the festival gets bigger and attracts different types of people. As the festival continues to grow, LIB is going to have to think of how to maintain the ethos that they’re known for. How do we get people who’ve never experienced this festival before to contribute to the respect, love, and community that is LIB?

No Trace Event

I was very disappointed by the amount of trash that was leftover at the end of this weekend. LIB has always been a no trace event, instilling the motto of “Pack it in, Pack it out.” Essentially, if you were able to bring it in with you, you can take it back out (including your trash!) LIB had waste sorting areas near the entrances where you could drop off your trash for free if it was sorted, or for a small fee if it was not. I thought this was so great of the festival to have these resources, and I was shocked at the amount of people that just left their trash at their site or by the restrooms. It seems like every year as the festival gets bigger, the trash problem gets worse as well. I remember at the beginning of 2016, LIB had volunteers going around camp to camp informing people that LIB was a no trace event and giving tips on sorting trash. They also had volunteers going around Monday morning doing those same reminers. This was a great way to spread awareness, and it’s unfortunate it was not done again this year. This might also just be due to how much the festival has grown even just since 2016.  Shout out to the Green Team and Trash Pirates for all they did to clean up the festival and leave it better than before!

 

To sum this up, LIB was amazing, healing, and reviving. I think this festival will always hold a special place in our hearts and will always be the festival to beat. If you’ve never gotten to experience LIB, we highly encourage it! But take the time to understand all this festival has to offer, and experience more than the music and partying. Go to a workshop, visit the interactive areas, spread the love!

That’s a wrap on 2018!

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Jammin’ in the Desert

With the official festival season fast approaching and the temperature getting warmer it’s almost hard to remember that just a few months ago the days were cold and short with not much to do; however, this is precisely why I’m going to tell you a little bit about a lovely event that happens in the middle of winter with plenty for you festival lovers and festival newbies to do: Gem & Jam Festival!

Gem & Jam Festival is hosted by Euphoric Conceptions and is a 4 day camping music festival now located at the Pima County Fairgrounds only 20 minutes southeast of Tucson, Arizona. The desert is probably not a place where you would think to find a festival (except for the legendary Burning Man), let alone one in the winter time, but because of this festival taking place in a desert climate the winter is the perfect time to host a festival, comfortable temperatures during the day time and chilly at night but nothing a jacket couldn’t fix! The venue is a decent size and was comfortably able to fit all the RV passes, car passes, and walk-in camping passes in their designated areas within the campground without feeling cramped. Another feature that I thought was a step up from all the different festival venues I’ve experienced was that because it was on an actual campground there were actual bathrooms/showers! I personally have used one too many port-o-potties in my festival days and, depending on how efficient the company hired is, those bad boys can get pretty nasty and not get stocked up as frequently as they should. There were some port-o-potties in the walk-in camping section of the festival since that happened to be a little further out in the camping layout however there were a few actual bathroom structures in the festival vicinity and that was such a relief for those attending the festival, especially for the ladies (am I right, girls?).

Let’s talk about the set up. This festival brings the two very different worlds of jam and electronic together with a beautiful collection of artists, from longtime groups like STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, and Lettuce to artists like Maddy O’Neal, Russ Liquid Test and Marvel Years who all seem to have exploded into popularity in the festival community within the last five or so years. Gem & Jam I would say is a small-medium size festival and surprisingly can fit a total of 5 stages: 2 big stages, 2 smaller stages, and 1 indoor late night stage.

The festival did a great job not only in physically spacing out the stages so music didn’t clash together but also set up the schedule in a flowing way so there was only about 10 minutes of overlap, and sometimes none at all! It was so satisfying to be able to wander the festival grounds while still being able to hear whatever artists you were interested in based on where you were standing in the festival. The stages themselves are given gem/mineral names, in respect to the gigantic international gem  and mineral festival that occurs in Tucson every year for 2-3 weeks, along with some of the stages having a sort of crystal altar that is at the front of the stages for decoration.

OK…music. Some of the artists on the lineup I was personally excited to see were: Emancipator, Big Wild, Breaking Biscuits, and Russ Liquid Test! Of course there are many more but these are a few of my newer loves. I also had to leave Sunday since I had a long drive ahead of me back to Northern California so I was unable to see Lettuce and Greensky Bluegrass who are two bands I enjoy so much.

Emancipator’s performance was very pleasing to the ears, the instruments linked with the subtlety of the electronic vibes brings such a fulfilling flow and one you can listen to no matter what time of day and no matter how you feel. During his performance I would look around me and see so many people with their eyes closed, totally in peace, while swaying to the music.

Big Wild is someone that I have such a giddy time seeing perform. I was on the other side of the festival, probably wanting more naan or tacos, when he came on stage. As soon as I heard Big Wild begin I jumped in the air, made an embarrassing squeal and dance-skipped all the way to the stage area. I don’t know if it’s the deep vibration of the drums when he plays, or the fact his music in general has such a happy and upbeat tune, but that is an artist I have seen multiple times and plan to continue seeing. Breaking Biscuits was a fun collaboration I was eager to see.

Breaking Biscuits is a side project that brings together the guys of Break Science with the very talented keyboardist and bassist of the infamous Disco Biscuits…honestly what could sound better than that? This group brought all the jammy feels without hitting plateaus in their set, something that is hard to do in 7 minute long songs. Break Science added their hints of hard electronic tones to the songs and all in all everyone couldn’t help but dance around, making friends in the process.

Russ Liquid Test, oh was I so happy when I saw you. This group performed in the late night building and did they kill it. Their live-electro, psychedelic funky sound filled the building with a burst of energy and groovy waves that no one could escape. The late night stage they performed on was made with laser-etched wood framing around the top and sides of it and color changing lights that shown through them, plus a virtual screen that had different images flashing from it. The music and performances provided at this festival were top notch to say the least.

Besides the music and venue set up itself, there were a few different areas within the festival where people could go to explore art installations, participate in workshops, and meditate. This area had a variety of gypsy looking tents set up in grass (i’m in Arizona?!) and within those tents there were pillows, rugs, and other bedding material to make yourself comfortable. There were beautiful cloth style chandeliers hanging from the tents and some had massage tables if you wanted to get a specific type of massage. The workshops included: event sustainability, yoga, being present in the community, consent, and much more. Gem & Jam also included a drum circle area were at various times in the day they would hold drumming ceremonies and classes for any that were interested in participating.

Some of the art installations were pretty trippy and so much fun to discover while I checked out every inch of the festival. In the grass area of the festival they had these large and intriguing alien-like “gods” all set up in a circle each holding different items with foreign letters and symbols written around them in a sort of halo, along with structures shaped like giant crystals popping out of the earth. The festival also had lights hanging from the palm trees scattered throughout the venue and of course an art gallery full of paintings, photos and LED art from pretty big name artists. Gem & Jam also had many live painters that you could find by every stage, painting anything from nature scenery, psychedelic experiences, deity  interpretations, etc.

One of my favorite encounters and pieces of art though was the Trolley Llama, a company owned party bus trolley decorated in clothes, parasols, and festival-gypsy decor and had the most comfortable outdoor living room set up I have ever seen at a festival, plus all the amazing individuals who came with the trolley and made it an experience in itself.

Out of everything that I experienced at this festival, I think the most important factor Gem & Jam had to offer was the people. During the entirety of the weekend I met dozens of individuals who all welcomed me to Arizona and the festival with open arms and positive attitudes. Yes there were many people who were from California, Texas, etc that I encountered but the vast majority of people were from Arizona (duh) and I had no idea how friendly they were until attending this festival. Even the people working security, guiding you to your parking pass spot, or scanning wristbands at the front were all incredibly hospitable and cracking jokes whenever possible. I didn’t see any fights, I didn’t see security making people feel uncomfortable, I saw eyes all around me full of excitement and people ready to help you enjoy your experience at Gem & Jam in whatever way they could. Gem & Jam impressed me whole-heartedly and I cannot wait to go back!

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LIB Excitement

Alright everyone, as you may or may not know, the best festival in California is quickly approaching….LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE! LIB is held on Memorial Day weekend (May 23-28) in Bradley, CA at the San Antonio Reservoir and is put on by the Do LaB.

LIB always has an amazing, eclectic lineup, but it has always been about more than just the music. LIB offers yoga, learning and culture, and art lineups on top of your typical music lineup. There are countless talks, workshops, and healing sessions. Art installations and structures are everywhere, and even the stages are their own form of beautiful art. Some call LIB a transformational festival, a festival that encourages social responsibility, community, and creative expression.

You can start off your mornings with yoga, body painting, or maybe attend a class at the Learning Kitchen and learn how to make a new dish (and try some yummy food!). Attend a meditation workshop, dance class, or even intro to blacksmithing!

A talk I am definitely not missing this year is “Magic and Medicine of the Bee” at the Earth Arts area. I come from a beekeeping family, and I could go on and on about the medicinal properties of honey and bee byproducts. I’m excited to see someone talking about this and sharing the magic!

There are so many activities and fun things happening at LIB too! Each year there is a Soap Box Derby and a 5K, just to list a couple. It is on my list to make it to the Soap Box Derby this year which has always looked like so much fun. People make their own “cars” and race them down a hill! I think one time I saw a vehicle made to look like a banana! I’m not too sure of the specifics of this, but I just know I need to see it finally!

Don’t get me wrong, you will definitely find me dancing to my hearts content at the different stages (Thunder, Lightning, Woogie, Grand Artique, Favela, or Pagoda). But if you don’t give yourself time to explore, you’re really missing out. At my first LIB I found out that on Meditation Hill everyone howls to the sunset, and that you high five everyone you pass on the bridges. There’s interactive art that you can climb or sit on, and rows of vendors that you can easily spend hours perusing. I must have spent at least half an hour at a swing set that we found, just letting myself be a kid again!

Alright so let’s talk about music. What I love about LIB is that each stage represents a different style of music for the most part. Thunder stage is primarily bass and trap for example, while at the Woogie you mostly find house music. The Lightning stage is the “main stage” so you find more of the bigger name artists there and the type of music varies more. I love that each stage has it’s own style, so if there’s ever a time you’re not sure who to check out, just go to the stage that hosts your type of music! This is a festival where you can find a variety of electronic music but you also can enjoy live music. Some artists I’m particularly stoked about this year are: The Glitch Mob, Zhu, Griz, Paces, KRANE, NAO, and MK! I actually have a LIB playlist you can follow on the home page in the right hand panel. Part of the fun of LIB is discovering new artists, so if the lineup looks pretty unfamiliar to you, just start listening and discovering!

In 2017 there was a lake for the first time at that venue, and let me tell you it was a game changer! Instead of laying at camp too hot to move (yes 2016 I’m looking at you), we just took our floaties to the lake and spent a couple hours relaxing and swimming. This year the lake level is not as high as it was in 2017, but it seems like they will still be letting people swim!

I almost forgot to mention that this is a camping festival! LIB employs a free-form style of camping, which means you can take up as much space as your group needs. The camping is not in a neat row, but rather spread out throughout the grounds. This really contributes to LIB’s freeing vibe. Make sure to check out the LIB packing list if you’re not sure what to bring. Remember this will be your home for the next 4 days, so make it comfy!

LIB is a leave no trace event, so please remember to pack it in and pack it out!

I could go on and on about why I love this festival or what it has to offer, but you really need to check it out yourself to get it. The most I can say is that LIB has always felt like home. A place where I belong, where I can be myself, a place free from judgement. People dress in bright crazy colors, people love their neighbors, people encourage expression at every level. This festival is truly transformational. I know I’ll never be the same.

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Lightning in a Bottle Packing List

Hello lovelies! After 2 years at LIB and countless other camping festivals, I’ve put together a pretty comprehensive list of everything you need to be comfortable and prepared while camping! It’s broken down into general camp, personal, and fun items!

General Camp Items

  • Rug/Comforters for lounge area
  • Pillows for lounge area
  • Camp lights
  • Table
  • Folding Chairs
  • E-Z up
  • Flag for camp
  • Tapestries/Clips
  • Trash Bags
  • Bigger water container/jug for camp
  • Toilet paper/Paper towels
  • Coolers
  • Breakfast and lunch food
  • Smoothies/Coffee/Yerba Matte
  • Plates and cups
  • Pots/Utensils for cooking
  • Portable stove
  • Cooking Spray
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Snacks/Fruit
  • Alcohol
  • Bluetooth speaker

Personal Items

  • Sleeping bag/Pillow
  • Tent/Tarp for under tent
  • Stakes/Hammer
  • Air mattress/Pump
  • Extra batteries for air mattress pump
  • Daytime clothes/Nighttime clothes
  • Sweatshirt/Jackets
  • Bandana/Face mask
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
  • Bathing suit
  • Floatie
  • Shoes/Socks
  • Flip flops for camp
  • Toiletries
  • Earplugs
  • Neti pot
  • EmergenC
  • Water bottle/Hydration pack
  • Sunscreen/Bug spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet Wipes
  • Wristband
  • Portable charger and cord
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Chapstick
  • Hair ties

Fun Stuff!

  • Eco-friendly Glitter
  • Body paint/Brushes
  • Glowsticks
  • Temp tats/Scissors
  • Face Jewels
  • Onesie

Product Review: Rainbow Optx

Our current obsession is colored sunglasses. All of the colored sunglasses. As many different colors as possible. Thankfully, Rainbow Optx has us covered!

They offer 6 different styles (Mercury, translucent, aviator, cat eye, heart, round) and 10 different colors (magenta, violet, indigo, blue, aqua, green, rose, yellow, orange, red). Each color is supposed to correlate with a chakra, element, and a need. These glasses are more than about just the color, they’re about balance. I’m including the descriptions for both the red and aqua colors at the bottom of this post, since those are the colored sunglasses we are rocking in the pictures!

 

The best part is whenever you buy a pair of sunglasses, they throw in a free pair! It just depends on whatever they’re offering at the moment. They tend to cycle through all of the different types of glasses and colors though. So basically you are getting 2 pairs of sunglasses for the price of one!

Most importantly, these sunglasses have UV400 protection, aka maximum protection! I’ve been searching for sunglasses that looked fun but also would protect my eyes. Found them!

The sunglasses come in a little protective pouch and with a little card detailing what each color means. They fit pretty comfortably on my face, and I love getting to see the world through whatever color you’ve chosen! BUT! DO NOT WEAR THESE WHILE DRIVING! They will change the color of stoplights, making it extremely dangerous to drive and wear these!

They generously offer every first-time buyer a 10 percent off code when you visit their site! Go check them out now! Rainbow Optx

10/10 would recommend.


Red

Mantra: I Am
Affirmation: I am safe, secure, grounded, protected, supported.

Chakra: Root
Element: Earth
Focus: Survival
Your Need: To feel more grounded.

Red is a stimulating color. It will energize the base chakra. It warms and it activates. It awakens our physical life force. Red strengthens the physical energy and the will of the individual. It can stimulate deeper passions, such as sex and love, courage, or hatred and revenge. Red can be used to raise the body’s temperature and to energize the blood.


Aqua

Mantra: I Express
Affirmation: Matters of the heart are spoken and understood effortlessly.

Chakra: Throat & Heart
Element: Ether & Air
Focus: Communication & Love
Your Need: To speak calmly from the heart with love and compassion.

Aqua is cooling. It combines the beneficial vitalizing and purifying effects of blue and green. Blue is the color of the throat chakra which is the center for communication, and green the color of the heart chakra, the center for love and compassion. Aqua can be used for stimulating the combination of these centers, facilitating heart centered communication.