For an event producer, DoLab’s Dede Flemming, who puts on huge events like Lighting in a Bottle, is a bit of a loner in crowds.
“I tend to get overwhelmed in big crowds so I look for places to hide,” Flemming told Amplify, adding that he tends to want to crawl into a hole when he’s around groups of strangers.
Flemming explained “If it is an event that we are throwing, you’re surrounded by people who are in party mode and fun time mode. But when you are organizing it, you need to be in a different mindset and a different space. People want to share their energy with you and you’re not necessarily in a place to receive that energy because you are overseeing everything and responsible for everything.”
This wasn’t a quirk Flemming was aware of when he first dabbled in live events production. His first foray into production came from working the 2003 innauguration for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
“I was just a PA running around doing every job imaginable for a few weeks. For whatever reason, the morning of the event they put me with the executive producer and said stick by his side. It was quite an honor and he just gave me incredible amounts of responsibility,” Flemming said.
After that day, Flemming was hooked on the excitement of live events.
“Everything that you’ve been working towards that is monotonous, the 15-hour days, and ‘why am I doing this,’ it all pays off at the end,” Flemming said. “It has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with ego. It has everything to do with that rush you get.”
That same excitement came when Flemming and his twin brothers began Lightning in a Bottle.
“Lightning in a Bottle started really organically as a birthday party. It started in 1999 as a little mountain rave birthday party for my brothers,” Flemming said. “They had a little community of ravers back then and they were called the Orange Kids. That continued to happen annually and in 2004 we decided to step it up and make it more of a festival. It was a 24 hour, overnight camping party with art. We spruced it up a bit. It wasn’t just a sound system. From there we just kept growing it and building it.”
Lightning in a Bottle is now a six-day event in Bradley, California that just featured headliners Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals, The Glitch Mob, and more for 24 hour fun. Since transitioning over to more of the business side, Flemming still helps out with logistics of the festival but focuses more on the big picture for Lightning in a Bottle’s production company, DoLab.
“My radio is called on the radio a lot less. In years prior, most of the calls on the radio were to me,” Flemming said. “That was exciting and annoying. I’m called on less and less. Which is kind of a blow. I’m not the guy anymore that has to be roped into every conversation. But it is still exhilarating.”
We caught up with Flemming to find out about five of the greatest shows he has seen.
The Band at Philadelphia Folk Festival
This was my first festival experience seeing a band that I new and recognized. It was a powerful moment because it made the music I would hear on albums or on the radio more real. It was the beginning for me.
REM at the Spectrum in Philadelphia
Oct. 12, 1995
To be honest I never actually made it to the concert but it was the first and only time I camped out on a sidewalk for tickets. These were the old Ticket Tron days and my brothers and I and a few other friends knew the show would sell out so we convinced our parents to let us take our sleeping bags and beach chairs and camp out outside of the local department store to be one of the first people in line. It felt like a concert fan’s right of passage camping out all night, sharing stories and for a young teenager it was a pretty epic moment getting those hard copy tickets in your hands.
Bon Iver at Coachella in Indio, California
April 14, 2012
This was one of those shows that just felt like I was in the right place at the right time. I was in the front taking full advantage of my Production wristband and I could just feel the emotion in the music. When I hear those songs now I close my eyes and feel like I’m back in the desert on a cool beautiful night without a care in the world.
Freq Nasty at Burning Man
Aug. 30, 2006
This show was as Mad Max as it gets. Every year at Burning Man friends of our would throw a breakbeat party at the Temple. We rolled up in an 80 ft. tall flower we created with our artist friend Patrick Shearn. We parked it next to our buddy’s flame throwing art car, the Space Wench, and synced up our speakers to the main sound system. Everyone we knew from the LA underground scene was there and it was one of the dirtiest, grimiest shows I’ve ever been to. For many people this party was the beginning of dubstep and disgusting, swampy bass music that made your face cringe. It was amazing.
Röyksopp at Hollywood Bowl in California
July 17, 2005
I hadn’t been living in LA too long and some of my brothers rave friends asked if I wanted to see Basement Jaxx at the Hollywood Bowl. I didn’t know them that well but you can’t pass up a summer night at the Bowl. The opener was some Norwegian duo with a weird name (Röyksopp), but I remember my mind being completely blown open. I don’t know what it was but the music spoke to me and I remember thinking that I wanted to be in the concert business and make this my life. (We were close to booking Röyksopp a few years ago for Lightning in a Bottle, which would have been a dream come true but their touring schedule prevented it from happening).