Shambhala 2014: Top 10 Shambhalovin’ Moments
Shambhala Festival transforms the farmland of Salmo River Ranch into a psychedelic wonderland for adults to explore, boogie and let their freak flags fly high every year. We had the absolute privilege of taking the road trip adventure of a lifetime to Canada for the annual four-day festival, and were completely blown away by all of the magic intricacies that Shambhala brought to the forest. In between imaginative stagescaping, incredible lighting design and impeccable sound systems, with earth-shattering bass, we fell madly in love with the way Shambhala managed to indulge each and every one of our senses.
The creativity of Shambhala’s production level is completely unparalleled to anything we’ve experienced, even as seasoned festivalgoers. The festival’s six different stages all reflected an entirely different vibe, and Shambhala did a flawless job of curating the proper acts to match each unique stage design. A remarkably one-of-a-kind attribute of Shambhala’s stages is the fact that many of them are surrounded by climbable fort structures – this creates a mystical tree house atmosphere that makes getting the funk down more fun that could be imagined.
The magical 4-day weekend was loaded with more fun than we can fit into the contents of one article, but we managed to compile a list of our top 10 Shambhalovin’ moments.
10. Using the Cleanest Port-O-Potties in Festival History
The worst part about any festival is stumbling around in a Port-o-potty. It’s dark, smelly and disgustingly damp – not to mention so small that even the bravest person instantly becomes claustrophobic. Shambhala has become a trailblazer in creating a happy port-o-potty experience. They took the absolute worst part of a festival and made it not only acceptable, but actually pleasant with an odor blocker and a hose for ventilation. They also had an open ground so no one got their cute fuzzy boots covered in mysterious port-o-potty liquid. Lights were installed to keep down on overall mess. Shambhala was also very timely about cleaning the potties, so they were never overflowing or out of toilet paper. The overall best part of the experience was the hilarious graffiti that the other patrons took it upon themselves to add. Everything from confessions of alien abductions, to ranting about local Canadian workout instructors, and plenty of creative uses of the male genitalia could be found on the walls. The bathroom artwork added something to take our minds off the fact that we were in the worst place at the festival.
9. Cooling off in the River Next to the Living Room Stage
The days were hot at Shambhala and the Salmo River was perfect for cooling off and getting refreshed before the nights’ shenanigans began. Festivalgoers could be found splashing around, swimming and soaking up the sun’s rays on any given day. Every day of Shambhala was literally one big river party, because the Living Room Stage was fittingly located right next to the relaxing body of water. The stage’s lineup was loaded with perfectly curated acts that set the laid back-river party vibe right with talent from the likes of Mr. Scruff and Michael Fraser. Festivals with open water are a complete game changer, and Shambhala spoiled us with the easily accessible and refreshingly cool Salmo River.
8. Jamming out with The Funk Hunters
Local favorites The Funk Hunters’ sunset set in the Fractal Forest set the right mood for the whole festival on the first night. These Hunters of the funk did a fabulous job of getting the crowd funkified and ready to dance the night away with a mix of original songs and unique remixes of classic crowd pleasers. The forest stage was surrounded with spectators who were dancing like the funk was going out of style. It had to be one of the most crowded sets at the Fractal Forest Stage that we witnessed all weekend. A saxophone player, who was dressed in a fuzzy zebra onesie and a top hat joined the DJ duo onstage – this touch of a live instrument definitely stepped up the party a notch.
7. Laying Down the Funk with Fort Knox Five
Fort Knox Five won over our hearts this festival season as our favorite funky duo, so it came as no surprise that Steve Raskin and John Horvath transformed the Fractal Forest into one of our favorite dance parties of the summer. They seamlessly blended remixes to classic favorites such as “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “Play That Music” by Wild Cherry to create a time machine of groovy sounds and feel good vibes. In addition to their dance-floor crushing late night Friday set at the Fractal Forest, there were still plenty more opportunities to catch the funky twosome throughout the weekend. They also played at the Ampitheater on Thursday evening and at the Funk Jam on Sunday afternoon for our ears’ pleasure, yet we are still somehow fiendin’ for more Fort Knox Five.
6. Going Native with A Tribe Called Red
It’s always interesting to see a group preform for the first time; we didn’t expect A Tribe Called Red to blow us out of the water as much as they did. Blending hip-hop, electronic, and native sounds, A Tribe Called Red, quickly transformed the Fractal Forest into a wild indigenous gangster party. We could plainly see that they hail from Canada, because the entire crowd danced and sung along to every song. The beat was paired with the beautiful cries of what sounded like a native person singing their heart out. As the pace quickened, the crowd’s energy level rose even though it was nearing the early hours of the morning; and then the beat would drop and everyone lost all control of their bodies. The scene consisted of arms flying, legs kicking, and booties bouncing. By the end of the set we all had about a hundred new friends. A Tribe Called Red was a fun, heart-felt, tribal dancing experience, and we are glad we got to see them for the first time.
5. Getting Down to a Surprise Freddy Todd Set
Freddy Todd stepped up and saved the party Thursday night when Thriftworks ended up not being able to make it. Usually we would be a bit disappointed to miss Thriftworks’ basscentric soundscapes, but Freddy Todd was one of the most pleasant surprises of the weekend, and ended up being perhaps even more enjoyable than a Thriftworks set could have been. We instantly fell in love with Freddy’s uniquely funky and psychedelic bass sound design. The Detroit-based producer is a master of his craft, a genuine wonder, as he uses absolutely no pre-recorded sets. It was also incredible to watch Freddy adapt so well to a last minute situation, and completely transform the amphitheater into his own vibe, even with the Terry-D dancers. Make sure to keep an eye out for more from Freddy Todd in the future; we can’t wait to watch this blooming producer blow up in the next year.
4. Having a Peaceful Night’s Sleep in the Sanctuary
One thing that truly set Shambhala apart from other festivals is the incentives taken to make attendees feel genuinely comfortable, welcomed and safe. The Sanctuary is one of the many harm reduction services offered by the festival, and we got to learn one of the many purposes that this festival safe spot serves for festival goers upon our late night arrival. After driving cross-country to Canada for a few days, we were absolutely exhausted when we arrived on festival grounds in the darkness of the middle of the night, and knew it would have been too difficult to even attempt to put up a tent. Fortunately, the Shambhala crew allowed us to sleep in the Sanctuary on a giant blow-up mattress full of big comfortable blankets the first night so we didn’t have to struggle to get a tent up in the dark, and still got a comfortable night’s sleep. This warm welcome to the festival truly exemplified Shambhalove and made Shambhala feel like home.
3. Getting Serenaded by the Soothing Voice of Lynx
By Sunday of the festival we had definitely had our fill of booming bass music. We decided to wander over to the Grove Stage to chill out and look at some cool art. We stumbled upon Lynx’s set just as it was beginning. Standing on stage with nothing but a laptop and a guitar around her neck, we became transfixed by the sound that came pouring out of her. It was absolutely heavenly to hear a sweet melodic instrumental sound after a weekend of our feet literally vibrating from bass music. Of course there was still a nice heavy bass sound, but her voice complemented it to a tee. Lynx was one of the most talented artists that we had the pleasure of seeing over the weekend. She could bust out a booty shaking bass track while playing the guitar and singing all at the same time. She made us giggle when she spoke to the crowd in a fake British accent when she admitted that she was a little nervous. However, we would have never guessed nerves, because she had us all hypnotized. Then to spice it up a little, Lynx brought a friend out on stage to do an a cappella beat boxing track. Lynx was the perfect way to wind down on Sunday night after a jam packed weekend of upbeat bass music.
2. Rockin’ the Hell Out to Two Nights of GRiZ
Seeing Griz one night is enough to knock our socks off, but the chance to see him two nights in a row brought a whole new meaning to smashing the funk. GRiZ did a fully electronic funk set of crowd-pleasing remixes of some of our favorite songs during his set at the Fractal Forest on the first night; we had never experienced a GRiZ set like this before. It was like he was playing a house party for all of his closest friends and everyone was getting down. Playing everything from Michael Jackson to Led Zeppelin, and some funky hip-hop in between, GRiZ’s Fractal Forest set was a good ol’ fashioned get down with all of our new Canadian best friends. The next night we climbed to the tippy top of the treehouse Village Stage to watch GRiZ bust out his sexy sax man sound from the crows nest of the fest. It was such an unforgettable experience to watch GRiZ from a bird’s eye view, while also watching the crowd get down from high above. The roar of the saxophone on the second night was such a contrast from the pervious night. These two completely different sets were two equally fun times.
1. Watching the Best Bassnectar Set of Our Lives From on Top the Speaker – Bassnectar has long been a pioneer in the underground electronic community, and his Saturday night set at the Pagoda Stage was a reminder of why he has earned that unparalleled reputation. The best type of electronic music is both seen and heard, and we got to do both while literally dancing on top of the giant PK Sound Speakers to the music of the world-renowned sound shaman. What can truly be appreciated about this specific set is the fact that Lorin took it back down to some of his downtempo roots, while still mixing in his hard-hitting basstasticly aggressive sound. The set was both high-energy yet reflective, basscentric yet beautiful, and wild yet humble. The treehouse-like stage known as the Pagoda was completely packed with ecstatically dancing bass heads, and the energy of the set was incomparable to anything else we’ve experienced this festival season. It was truly incredible to catch the man himself in such a rare form in the midst of a wonderland stage.
[Written by: Jacki Moon and Maranda Corbin]