RECAP | The 10 Best Sets We Saw At Lightning In A Bottle 2023

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Driving into the California desert for this year’s Lightning In A Bottle festival, I was skeptical that my experience could possibly top the incredible time I had at┬áLIB 2022. Turns out, this year’s Do Lab-produced festival was even better.

I had the privilege of doing group camping with 40 incredible people, half of whom I had just met, each contributing an amazing energy. That may sound risky, but the type of person LIB attracts is a safe bet. There’s something so special about this festival. LIB is on the smaller side, so the people in attendance are there for the music and the community, rather than just the hype.

Everyone is so damn friendly, welcoming, and accepting; the only ‘Drama’ was the band, and the only strangers were ‘Liquid.’ You can genuinely become friends with someone walking into the festival grounds at the same time, waiting in line to get food, or even just wordlessly communicating through movement on the dance floor, hugging it out after the set ends.

While my total set count clocks in at 25 shows, I did my best to narrow it down to my absolute favorites.

The 10 Best Sets We Saw At Lightning In A Bottle 2023

10. SOFI TUKKER

Every time I’ve seen SOFI TUKKER, it’s been an absolute party. They really united the crowd, bringing everyone together with their infectious enthusiasm. There’s just something so special about locking eyes with your bestie, screaming the lyrics of “Best Friend” while holding onto each other for dear life. They also played a medley of their top hits, including a mash-up of The White Lotus theme song, and a DnB version of “Purple Hat” to close out the set.

9. Floozies

The Floozies rocked the house with live guitar and drum solos, while also getting down and dirty with filthy synth riffs. They had me and all my friends head-banging with their funkalicious bass lines. They also worked some crowd magic, closing the set with one of their latest singles “Hot Guy Alert,” engaging in some call-and-response, and encouraging all the “hot guys” in the crowd to boogie their hardest.

9. Blond:ish

Blond:ish gave the crowd exactly what we needed at her set. She had a delicious assortment of tribal house tunes, global instrumental textures, and deep melodic vibes. She also played an insane remix of “We Like To Party” by the Vengaboys. She teased the drop for what felt like years, and we all collectively lost our shit when she finally hit us with that chorus. To top it all off, there was a guy walking through the crowd playing on a djembe drum. While I don’t think he was part of the set, his beats perfectly accentuated her selections, making them even larger than life.

8. TSHA

TSHA was the artist I personally was most-looking forward to, as her debut album was one of my favorites of 2023. One of the last sets of the weekend on Woogie, the house and techno stage, TSHA rejuvenated the crowd, giving everyone a second wind with disco favorites, UKG selections, and relentless breakbeats.┬áMost of my crew wasn’t familiar with her music, but Do Lab once again showed their penchant for selecting the hottest up-and-coming artists with her booking. By the end of her set, everyone in my group was talking about how much they loved her.

6. Daily Bread

Despite being a TSIS fave, I didn’t know too much about Daily Bread. But when one of my friends told me Daily Bread was his most anticipated artist of the festival, I knew I couldn’t miss it. His set had my favorite crowd of the festival. Everyone was dancing as one collective group – I made the most new friends at this set, dancing with random festival goers as Daily Bread’s wubby beats wove a hypnotic spell over the crowd.

5. REZZ

Headlining the closing set of the entire festival was our space mother, REZZ. My whole squad dressed up in our best alien attire in anticipation of REZZ abducting our souls, and she did not disappoint. She ripped her signature brand of roaring mid-tempo bass. Even though I’d seen her three times prior to this, she still snuck in music I had never heard, including an ID from her HypnoVizion label, and a new Blanke edit of “Edge.” I wasn’t sure how her new goth-inspired grunge singles would work in her live shows, but with their heavy, distorted guitar riffs, they actually mixed perfectly. She ended our festival experience on a wave of blissful, mind-melting bass.

4. Tokimonsta

Toki’s visuals are some of the best in the game. Not only did her set include mindbending graphics and heart shaped lasers, she also had fire breathers and torch jugglers come on stage. She played all my favorite songs, seamlessly shifting from piano house tunes, to heavy bass bangers, to downtempo favorites, like her top track “Realla”. She also cultivated such a positive energy in the audience, encouraging us to “hug our Asian neighbors” in honor of AAPI month, and exclaiming her gratitude for being there.

3. LSDream

I’m walking away from this festival with a new favorite artist, and it’s LSDream. He set the tone for the day with his special morning Lightcode set, an hour long ambient sound bath meditation. He raised everyone’s spirits, just to snatch them during his night-time slot. Prior to his set, I was feeling pretty exhausted, resting at a picnic table at the back of the crowd. But the second the bass dropped on his opening track (his magical collab with Griz) I was on my feet again, my body unable to resist the absolute dance party I was witnessing. Despite this being the most packed set I attended over the entire festival, LSDream couldn’t have been more humble and grateful, telling us that he was just “one of us,” which resonated with everyone. The rainbow lasers and trippy visuals were just the cherry on top of his set.

2. Hamdi

Several people in my squad assured me Hamdi’s set would be one of the best of the weekend. And it was. Considering his set was at 4PM on a Friday, he drew a massive crowd. His show coincided with the release of one of the most hotly anticipated tracks of the year, and the crowd was absolutely buzzing. He totally proved why he is one of the hottest producers in the game right now, playing several fire IDs, including an unreleased Skrillex collaboration. I was 100% sober for his show, but the atmosphere gave me the biggest high of all. He also played a surprise late night set at the Stacks, which was just as lit.

1. ZHU

Yes, ZHU had a full live band, including guitar, drums, and sax. And yes, his set included all his classics, new IDs, and innovative VIPs. But most importantly, ZHU had a swagger that can’t be taught or learned. He sang every song of his live while wearing his signature fur coat, and his cool-factor had a halo effect on the crow, casting a glow over everyone and making everyone seem sexier by default. His set was perfectly balanced, alternating between his house hits and his heavier bass tracks. Everyone was grooving their hardest – we left it all on the dance floor that night.

To see what else I got up to, you can check out a video recap below.

 

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