Picture a weekend of dance music at a summer camp for adults, and gather that the team behind its conception is ingenious, right? Dirtybird Campout, an event whose Phase 1 lineup was just announced, is the brainchild of San Francisco-born label Dirtybird and event production company The Do LaB, set for its second year this October.
Though the Campout is still in its infancy, the group’s flagship festival, Lightning in a Bottle, recently celebrated its third year at its newest location. The Do LaB also just produced the second edition of Woogie Weekend, which brings the underground club feel to festival form. In addition to all of that, the event crew has held a Do LaB stage at Coachella for the last number of years, bringing intimate house vibes to the biggest desert party on the West Coast.
It appears that The Do LaB has more on their plate than ever before, yet the company still manages to curate festivals with an aura of friendship and music–a combination many consider a feeling of home. Ahead of their final festival of 2016, we examine how The Do LaB has trailblazed the alternative festival scene, in a reflection of one of the best festivals of the year, Lightning in a Bottle.
This past Memorial Day Weekend, LIB sold out and drew a record number of attendees, signifying that this is only the beginning of its new era–one marked by diverse talent, palpable energy, and transformational experiences.
Overall, this year’s LIB provided an incredibly enriching experience, comprised of unique moments between old and new friends, all set to a soundtrack of marvellous musical performances. However, much has changed since 2014, the first year the festival touched down at its new home of Bradley, CA, with LIB now setting its sails for a venture into mainstream territory.
Growth in this trajectory doesn’t necessarily imply negativity, though. In fact, getting festival fans exposed to more under-the-radar events transforms the scene and shapes the future of musical freedom. In a world run rampant by security-riddled raves and corporate-run festivals, The Do LaB provide a healthy substitute that should serve as the new model, and here’s why:
1. Feedback yields progress: In 2014, the new location introduced more grief than gratefulness to returning and new attendees. Plagued by scorching heat and clouds of dust, people trudged through ravines, making running up and downhill an all-weekend exercise. Last year, the festival introduced bridges, and this year, activities like karaoke expanded to the trenches, offering a fun alternative for late-night partying. The Do LaB want to make sure that festival goers are at ease, and nothing’s more reassuring of their care than making continual improvements each year.
2. Diverse lineup of musical artistry: For a lineup rooted mostly by electronic music, The Do LaB manages to book compatible talent of other genres, leading to a finely curated roster for fans of any sound. The festival has booked major artists in the thick of their big break, such as Flume and ODESZA in 2015, as well as artists heating up before their big break. My personal favorite of the weekend happened to be Mija, the Los Angeles-based producer and DJ affiliated with Skrillex’s label OWSLA.
While some artists catering their performance to crowd approval, as a means to please the audience, Mija breaks out, doing her thing as a one-woman show and enjoying every minute of it. She dropped vintage tracks like “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay and classic house like “Mars” by Fake Blood, while splicing festival staples like RL Grime’s “Scylla” and Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop” in between. Her performance brought the crowd’s energy to an all-time high, gifting viewers with the best way to start their weekend.
But she’s not the only one who crushed their LIB performance. All of the artists booked to play the festival bring their best, which should come as no surprise from The Do LaB given their Coachella history. Their stage at one of the world’s biggest festivals has hosted small club-like sets, as well as ones so big that they had to be cancelled (Kaskade Redux in 2015). The Do LaB prove that they know talent, leaving their flagship festival to present the best of their tastemaking abilities.
3. A gathering between friends and exploration of the inner self: Spending a magical weekend with some of your closest and oldest friends is an extremely beautiful feeling, and LIB gracefully manages to manifest this kind of energy. Whether you’re new to festivals, or have been partying since the day you could go to your first rave, anyone can find a home at LIB, including families with children, and those who live a sober lifestyle. Guest speakers, workshops, and yoga classes offer a balance in the midst of all the music, making this festival more than its music.
The required camping setup also pushes attendees to live (mostly) wirelessly, which is important in a time where electronic connections come standard. In this small desert oasis, living in the moment in the company of friends can only lead to the development of the inner self. Hailed as transformational, LIB and its mission have inspired other events, and led to the creation of fellow festivals Woogie Weekend and Dirtybird Campout.
Ultimately, The Do LaB’s dominance in the dance music world can only continue to thrive, especially when juxtaposed with overcrowded EDM events that are littered with rampant drug use, oversaturated music, and money-hungry producers. Yet, in light of all praise, the LIB legacy seems to stop here for me. After surveying how rapidly the festival grew in three years time, LIB has officially flown the coop to join the premiere ranks, paving the way for a future of Coachella-lke expansion; and that’s not a bad thing, it’s just the nature of the festival game. Those who have graduated from LIB can find comfort again in other similar events, also produced by The Do LaB; and when Woogie Weekend and Dirtybird Campout reach their apex, I’ll bet the team will have hatched another cool festival, because they never stop innovating. And neither should we, as festival goers.
So while LIB continues to prosper, my memories will stay with me, as I continue to seek out new experiences. With festival tickets selling out faster than ever, it can only mean more exclusivity as years continue. To those who have never been to LIB before, make the right decision to dance in the desert next May. For techno heads, be sure to check out next year’s Woogie Weekend in July. Bass lovers must jump on the opportunity to spent an Indian summer weekend at sleepaway camp with the Dirtybird Players as the camp counselors. The Do LaB provides a festival for every dance music fans, and we can’t wait to see what they’re working on.