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The Strongest Element: A Review of Do Lab's First (Wet) Woogie Weekend Festival

July 29, 2015 - by Molly Sinclair

Earth, wind, water, love.

This festival review is about an intimate weekend that those who attended will never forget; an oasis of beauty, generosity, and perseverance; a celebration of art, music, and most importantly - mother nature.

Woogie Weekend was an event full of surprises, being the first year of the house and tech music festival thrown by creative festival producers The Do Lab. The festival theme is based off the popular tree house stage, "The Woogie", from Do Lab's Lightning in a Bottle festival (LiB), a 4-day mecca of art and music that is growing so rapidly that it was only fit to start a new and smaller event with one vibe.

However, much to the delight of festival goers, Woogie Weekend took place at the former venue of Lightning in a Bottle, Oak Canyon Park in Orange County, which many attendees still maintain was their favorite venue for LiB. Interestingly, this venue choice had a strong role in determining the experience of the weekend.... which I will detail, day by day.


12pm - Gates open at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado, CA. Although my group arrives a few hours later, there is plenty of space to camp, unlike the jam-packed campgrounds at LiB. We set up camp on soft dirt rather than rocks... which we will regret later.

4pm - After getting situated at camp, we explore the gorgeous venue. The sun beats down on the earth, but the lovely Do Lab has set up the grassy venue with tons of shade structures and coverings over the colorful stages.

There are only 2 stages - The Beat Nest and The Hive, with a sparkling lake in between, where you can even take a boat ride with lovers and friends. Talented painters and flow artists are sprinkled around the park, and hammocks adorned upon luscious trees. Wow, this is beautiful!

10pm - As the night progresses, the beats begin to get deeper and darker. Everyone has eyes filled with excitement and sheer glee, their faces free of stress, truly the ultimate act of "living in the moment". Wacky characters prance around the grounds as lights and lanterns light up the clear skies.

Photo by Andrew Jorgenson

1am - At this point, it's clear to me that Friday night is a bit of a warm-up, music-wise, in preparation for Saturday / Sunday, presuming some people couldn't get off work yet. However, I'm impressed by Adam Freeland closing out the night with a unique track selection that kept the crowd bumping.

5am - The main music stops at 2am, but the night is very much alive at the two after hours stages, properly dubbed Dusk and Dawn stages. Tired from a day of packing, driving and camping, I put my earplugs in and try to get some sleep, completely unaware of what's to come.


10am -The bright and sunny day begins with the usual campout festival routine -waking up hot and sweaty inside your personal oven... erm, tent I mean! You can hear the peaceful yoga instructor on a loud speaker guiding souls through a class at the Beat Nest stage, but I'll have time to attend tomorrow morning (or so I thought).

My friends who I brought with me have been attending festivals for years, but this is their first campout at a transformational festival (unlike raves / Coachella and the like). They are absolutely loving it, talking about how incredible the vibes are and how "on point" everyone's outfits are!

12pm - It's hot as hell, and people are slip n' slidin on down!

2pm - Lookin' fly, we head over to see Pumpkin spin, which would end up being the best set of the weekend. Dropping jams from Jackson 5 to Riptide to 90's hip hop favorites. As light rain started to flow, Pumpkin's set created a tropical vibe, and everyone was straight groovin! Fun was the word on Saturday, and it felt special to be the first Woogie-ers in history.

3:30pm - It starts to get cold, considering it's actually raining now, but I assume it will pass. There's no cell service at all, but I head back to camp for a jacket and to check on my friends.

3:45pm - Aaaaand the rain starts to pour, hard. As I get back to camp, my friends are frantically packing things inside the tent as our "soft dirt" camp area starts to flood. My tent begins to flood with water, but with a couple beers in me, I don't seem to care too much. We'll figure it out... right?

4pm - The entire campground at Oak Canyon Park is a giant mud mess. Half the festival has straight up abandoned their shoes and embraced the mud. My fellow campers and I made the mistake of not getting car camping (regrets... so many regrets). As the rain dumps on our canopy, we laugh and laugh and laugh.... knowing how ridiculous the weekend is about to get. Still want to hit up that slip n slide?

Photo by Andrew Jorgenson

4:15pm - Gigamesh is killing it! No matter the rain -his set was up there with Pumpkin in terms of quality, but damn, this guy must spend hours and hours scouring ill tracks that blow my mind. One of those weird enigmatic sets where you can see he's a smart dude with a great ear for music, but I couldn't even give you the ID. Do Lab, please book Gigamesh again! Thoroughly impressed, and he seems to have a bit of gentlemanly swag, if that's a thing.

5pm - I force myself to leave Gigamesh to check out Moon Boots, who is one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend (real bummer they were playing at the same time). But Moon Boots, I'm sorry... it didn't live up to the expectations of my group. Your production is great, I love your tracks on Soundcloud, but the 2 hour time slot could've been used a lot more efficiently... seemed like a lot of filler. I run back to Gigamesh for a great finish!

Photo by Josh Cameron

7pm - Our entire camp is underwater. As the sun goes down, I sober up a bit... and come to the dark realization that my tent and everything in it is flooded. Where will I sleep tonight? How will I stay warm? No need to worry, however, because my neighboring campgoers let me take a nap in their dry tent.

The amount of love felt at this festival has been tenfold so far. I immediately snap out of my unnecessary concern, and realize we are all in this together. Seriously, I'm on a lush island of love, with beautiful lights and sound, a tropical paradise away from the hustle-bustle of the city life, and I'm real grateful. Oh yeah, and they let me borrow a poncho, so that was cool.

10pm - Time to head back to the circus. The rain has stopped, and I got to go see the badass-ette, J.Phlip! There's nowhere to sit if you get tired, unless you want to be a mud monster, but all the more reason to dance, right? This dirty bird is throwing down some swampy beats (see what I did there?) with her massive entourage on stage, and the energy is so alive tonight, regardless of the wetness. Get it girl!

Photo by Jessica Bernstein

1am - Danny Daze keeps it weird and wild as we dance the night away. I think the Hive is definitely my favorite stage of the two. Since it's farther away from the campgrounds than Beat Nest, it seems like the cool uncle stage.

4am - The music at after hours tonight seems even better than last night, with Bells N Whistles spinning an upbeat flow. I still haven't heard a SINGLE COMPLAINT all weekend about the rain. Honestly, if this happened at another dance music event, rave, or show, I'm sure it wouldn't run as smoothly. There is magic in the air.


10am - So much for doing yoga at this festival! I don't feel like braving it in the mud, so I decide instead to get all the water out of my tent. But what a joke that turns out to be...

2pm - It looks like Mikey Lion has brought the entire Desert Hearts festival crew to the Woogie. It's like a jungle out here with festival monkeys hanging around everywhere!

3:30pm - Sunday is cracking. Autograf takes the stage and starts throwing down a heavy house set, almost like electro disco. The crowd is high off that Mikey Lion vibe and absolutely loving it, dancing and screaming and running around. However, I can see the looming dark clouds in the distance.

I sprint around trying to get some last photos in before the storm comes again. I talk with some old and new friends... many of which were unaware that the rain was coming back.

4pm - Sudden. Torrential. Downpour.

4:01pm - People are sprinting back to camp. It's like a free for all out here. The rain is 5 times harder than Saturday. My neighbors let me stuff my camera, LED hoop and suitcase in their car. Our campground is a wading pool.

4:15pm - I head back to Autograf to enjoy the rest of this epic set. "California, I heard you were in a drought!" they yell over the mic while everyone laughs. A big lake is starting to form at the stage. A lake that rapidly is getting bigger and bigger. No one seems to care, and they dance harder than ever.

People are taking apart the letters of the Woogie Weekend sign.

Photo by Josh Cameron

4:30pm - The stage is a sea, knee-deep. People are floating in couches, on floaties in the new lake. Someone tries to grab the boats from the real lake to the stage lake, but gets stopped by staff. The Slip n Slide is a joke. People that just showed up Sunday seem shocked, but everyone else that braved Saturday is absolutely loving it.

4:45pm -The music cuts out.

Photo by Daniel Zetterstorm

Photo by Daniel Zetterstorm

6pm- Some people are trying to leave, but their cars are getting stuck in the mud. We make the smart decision of waiting it out.

7:30pm - No concept of time at this point, but around 7:30 the music comes back on at the Hive and Lee Burridge takes the stage. In short, Lee Burridge's All Day I Dream set saves Woogie Weekend. We have been through so much at this point, and only the real Woogie warriors have stayed, and for good reason. Props to The Do Lab and workers who got the music back on despite technical difficulties in a thunderstorm!

Photo by The Confluence

11pm - Lee & Friends are playing the most appropriate gems; "and it's raining again, it's raining again". People have literally brought canopies to the stage. I am still stunned by the positive attitudes all around me, as many concert goers have no dry clothes left. It's still raining, but I'm so glad the Do Lab brought the music back on!

Meanwhile, the Beat Nest is waist deep, says the security guard. We keep laughing!

Photo by Josh Cameron

12am - Sadly, Woogie Weekend comes to a close, even though we are ready for more.

Conclusion: The Strongest Element

This debut festival was filled with a number of elements.... muddy earth, strong winds, tons of water... but the strongest of all was not rain. The strongest element was love. Generous, unconditional, positive love.

All in all, it was a wild and wet Woogie, but I can only say this event made our hearts much tougher than they were before.

--Molly Reports

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