The LIB sign in front of attendees flocking to the cool lake
Almost no one could have predicted what began as a small birthday party for friends and family in Santa Barbara in 1999 with 1,200 people to balloon into one of California’s, and the world’s, most loved music and art festivals. It wasn’t until 2004 that people paid to attend, and more DJs and artists were recruited. The founders (the production company known now as The Do Lab) grew up going to Burning Man, and have been greatly influenced by that and their work with Coachella to mesh the corporate and off-the-grid worlds into a creative and like minded community.
Co-stage builder Alina poses in front of the Woogie stage
As co-founder Jesse Flemming said, “We now have a younger crowd, a Coachella college crowd, and that’s great, but we have to show them the way and address some of the issues of the world. That’s what sets LIB apart from other festivals. We have a 6 Ways of LIB code of conduct that we really push to teach people the ways that we wish to see and interact with the world. One of our major goals is to respect the land, and use sustainable workshops so that people can take this back to their everyday life after they leave the festival. We only allow 5% of our food vendors to sell meat to really highlight how big sustainability and climate change are for us. That’s the goal, for people to come here and have a reset from everyday life, to get away from their anxiety and politics and keep this energy as alive as possible throughout their lives.”
A sustainable food vendor hands out free Acai bowls that benefit an organization that fights climate change
Indeed, LIB boasts some of the largest amounts of workshops of any festival in the U.S. besides Burning Man, covering everything from physical Kundalini yoga and breathwork to energy healing and massage; dietary classes such as plant-based Keto and others in the Learning Kitchen; ArtClave art classes, and many others. This is what makes LIB a ‘Transformative’ festival, as it’s more than just partying- rather it’s about growing your limitless potential and focusing on what you want to for yourself with the help of and connection to others.
A body paint artist works their magic 🙂
Speaking of connection with others, the entire vibe of the festival is a family one, and what it takes to run a festival often asks of people to give more than they have- this is how the Do Lab gets everything done so quickly between Coachella and LIB. Everyone works together to give their all, and even the founder’s parents help at LIB every year. “We have so many babies that are LIB babies- whose parents met at LIB through a magical connection. These are the types of stories that keep us going even in the chaos of creating a festival,” said Flemming.
Expert Kundalini teacher Jai Dev Sing teaches his ways
This year the festival was held at a new venue in Buena Vista Lake and also incorporated a new stage, which always poses challenges, but the team pulled it off gracefully. For many, this was their first LIB and they didn’t notice much of a difference, but others missed key LIB monuments from the past such as Meditation Mountain. Regardless, there was still a magical energy of play, as this new venue is typically a thriving park used by mostly families. Music headliners such as Flying Lotus, who used immersive 3D experiences during his set, in conjunction with the art and magic abound, made it an elevating weekend!
Psy Trance DJ Khromata on the right breaks in the new Stacks stage