Shambhala 2019 Recap: 10 Remarkable Moments Of Magic
When a festival is celebrating an unprecedented 22nd anniversary, it’s common sense to realize there must be a few reasons its been able to stand the test of time. In the case of Shambhala Music Festival, those reasons are nearly endless. If you were to ask any member of the Shambhala Farmily they would each have their own cherished aspect of the gathering that speaks to their soul. Some of us wait all year just to submerge ourselves in the pristine waters of the Salmo while others simply can’t wait to taste that sweet, sweet poutine. Shambhala can offer gifts that are simply inconceivable at other festivals, like the most breathtaking sunrises as clouds crest over the evergreen expanse and a night sky bejewelled by the cosmos.
However, no matter what niche sensation draws us back to the farm each summer, one thing that binds all of us Shambhalovelies is our love of the music. Whether you’re a house lover who gets lost in the lights of the Pagoda, a bass head who spends all weekend head-banging at the village or a low-end fiend that prowls the nooks and crannies of The Grove, Shambhala is more than willing to supply you with moments of musical magic that brand your very being. Shambhala is truly a world onto itself and each of the six main stages is a wormhole into a fantasy that feels more authentic than your reality.
Perhaps the only annual complaint that we can lodge at the festival is the fact that the artist curation is simply too good. When the schedule drops each year there’s always a slight feeling of dread knowing that you won’t be able to be in 4 or 5 places at once and that sacrifices would have to be made. Yet, when we’re finally on the farm, lost in the moment with the bass throbbing through our bones, there is an assurance that we are exactly where we’re meant to be. During this Shambhala, as with all of them, we sadly couldn’t be everywhere and hear every incredible set, but we were elated to experience the ones that we did. Here are our 10 moments of magic at Shambhala 2019.
Deep Dark Dangerous TakeOver At The AMP
Where else to begin besides the madness hosted by The AMPhitheatre on Friday night. As industry leaders, it was only right that Truth and the Deep Dark & Dangerous horde invaded Shambhala to kick off the festivities in earnest. Its a been a massive year for the groundbreaking bass label that is redefining the genre’s place in the world of electronic music. While head honcho’s Truth graced the stage for yet another one of their trademark Shambhala sets, it was the DDD lieutenants that really stole the show this year. Distinct Motive and Khiva set the tone with gritty, technical and cutting edge sets that further underline the pair’s position as innovators in their own right. Abstrakt Sonance closed out the night with a savage performance accompanied by Vandull as MC. East coast crowds will soon become very familiar with this bass maven who has already built his legend up north and out west. Legends Alix Perez and The Librarian leant their talents on the evening rounding out a bass lover’s paradise of a lineup. Plumes of smoke filled the air as The AMP percolated and throbbed with energy like no other. Daps were given, the bass was thick and grins stretched from ear to ear as the thriving, diverse and extensive Deep Dark & Dangerous community celebrated the label that has now become a global icon.
TMSV Standing In For Mala At The Grove
Few, if any names in the world of dubstep hold the same gravitas as Deep Medi Musik co-founder Mala. The South London pioneer garners major respect from every corner of the bass community and he was certainly one of the artists we were most hyped on seeing this year at Shambhala. Unfortunately, Mala wasn’t able to make it to The Grove on Friday night, leaving a gaping hole in the schedule. Luckily, the ideal replacement was on hand to fill Mala’s legend-sized shoes.
When the full Shambhala lineup dropped a few months ago, we were a little disheartened not to find Dutch bass music phenom TMSV somewhere on the roster. His dark, intricate and eclectic sound has been a joy to discover recently and we couldn’t help but imagine him slaying the Funktion-1 rig at The Grove. Well, his surprise inclusion at this year’s 22nd anniversary in place of Mala has truly made us appreciate the power of manifestation. There was something poetic about watching one of the rising stars of dubstep and bass step in to receive the baton, in a sense, from a living legend.
Expansive, meandering and yet tight as a drum, TMSV unleashed a spellbinding set upon The Grove that left the contingent beneath the stacks awe-struck and entranced. Stage performers added a hypnotic visual stimulus that paired perfectly with the vast and perfectly woven soundscapes emanating from the owl-etched stage. With nods to the past like dropping Digital Mystik’s unruly remix of Skream’s classic track “Midnight Request Line” and his own flavor in the form of heaters like “Modification,” TMSV crafted a set that truly announced him to the Shambhala faithful.
Chase & Status Brings The Jungle To The Village
This year’s storms brought an added dimension to the festivities. While conditions could be classified as hazardous, that didn’t stand in the way of epic moments being had. Floodwaters made the path to the village nearly impassable, but with some ingenuity and determination crowds flocked to the bass Mecca to experience some of the most earth-shattering sets of the weekend. In our opinion, paramount of these was Chase & Status’ triumphant conquest on Sunday night.
With their critically-acclaimed album, RTRN II JUNGLE primed like a warhead the London natives tore through The Village with a visceral swagger that permeated throughout the crowd. The scene was cinematic as the infamous duo, accompanied by the world-famous MC Rage, led us on a journey to Kingston, Jamaica and London, England all whilst nestled in the forests of the Kootenay Mountains. Beenie Man’s “Girls Dem Sugar” boomed on the PKs as the boundaries between drum & bass, dancehall and jungle blurred. Although the album only dropped in May, RTRN II JUNGLE has already produced undeniable classics like “Murder Music,” “Retreat2018,” and “Program.” However, the highlight of the outstanding 90-minute set was by the far the exclusive premiere of Chase & Status’ remix of Shy FX’s “Original Nuttah” which is out now.
New York jungle massive rejoice, as Chase & Status will be showing the Big Apple love on November, 1 when they play Kings Hall at Avant Gardner.
FKJ’s Splendid Sonic Voyage At The Grove
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated set at Shambhala this year was FKJ. The Parisian multi-instrumentalist is easily one of the most captivating musicians of our time. His set dripped with old-soul appeal and borrowed its way into the deepest corners of our musical beings. Truly a pallet cleanser from the rest of the artists on Shambhala’s lineup, FKJ’s mastery of live instrumentation and vocals created a truly unique atmosphere that we’ve never experienced before on the farm.
While space was certainly limited and the packed nature of The Grove may have adversely affected some of the crowd’s experience, we clung to the wooden supports atop the stone outcroppings as though we were being washed away in a biblical flood. As spots became permanent and the audience settled in, there were no words for the majestic atmosphere that blossomed from the Frenchman’s unmistakable talent. Jazz, R&B, hip-hop and indie-electronic elements blended together in kaleidoscopic ways as lovers held each other close. It’s not often that you get to sit back and behold the work of a true savant, but this was one performance that left an indelible imprint on our souls.
Sweet Anomaly Grooving At The Living Room
Shambhala is never complete until an artist we’ve never heard of blows our minds and exposes us to something completely new sonically. This year the BC spotlight shone on us when the enigmatic Sweet Anomaly stirred things up at The Living Room. In the sand along the banks of the Salmo, a party ripe with an international flavor welcomed the first rays of the morning. Sweet Anomaly showcased his mastery over a wide array of genres, gliding between Latin, reggae, hip-hop and house influences with debonair flair. At times the set flowed into rougher waters as bass growls began to slice through The Living Room subs and low-end frequencies muscled their way betwixt bewitching melodies.
The breathtaking beauty of The Living Room was on full display as the dance floor was layered in a blanket of technicolor lasers while revellers twisted and shimmied amidst a verdant canvas of endless pines. The calm river lay between the two opposing elements all three bound by the music and infused into the crowd. Music has the ability to transport us to far off lands and distant times and Sweet Anomaly acted as a master conductor, guiding his locomotive through space and time.
Goopsteppa Cleansing The Grove With Sonic Therapy
One of the aspects of Shambhala that make the festival so personal and deeply transformative is the culture and shared history that all of the Farmily share. This interconnectivity and mutually shared traditions are what bring us all back year after year to feel the acceptance and camaraderie that can only be found in the Kootenay Mountains. The source of this incredibly strong bond undoubtedly stems from the intimate connection shared between artists and festivalgoers. Shambhala holds a special place in the hearts of artists and fans alike. No matter what color your wristband is, everyone retains the same affection for the long-standing gathering.
In our opinion, no artist better embodies the cutting-edge nature, eclectic style and uplifting energy of Shambhala than Goopsteppa. The Montreal native performed at his 11th straight Shambhala this past August and his set at The Grove was a deeply emotive sonic whirlwind. Stylish hip-hop angst married beautifully with left-of-center glitch elements and low-end bangers that rumbled through the F-1 stacks. Every drop and transition warmed the soul and moved the body as The Grove crowd surrendered to Goopsteppa’s deft touch behind the decks. Despite the rain, Shambhalovelies flocked en masse to experience the healing soundwaves and share in a moment of magic that has become a Shambhala mainstay.
Goopsteppa was one of the first artists who blew our minds at the festival 5 years back and his annual inclusion is one we always look forward to. Despite no longer holding down the sunrise set slot, The Goop still crafted awe-inspiring sonic therapy that only he is capable of.
Ivy Lab At Sliding Through Dimensions At The Grove
The true measure of an artist is their ability to alter our perspectives and force us to see the world in new and bold ways. That ability to knock down our mental walls and expand the boundaries of consciousness through sound is undoubtedly a strength of halftime pioneers Ivy Lab. The 20/20 LDN purveyors have an uncanny aura about them and wherever they set up shop unconscionable sounds certainly follow.
Far more than a simple DJ set, Ivy Lab’s performance was an immersive experience in which the body and mind slid in opposite directions coaxing a sense of dissonant symmetry. Nearly geometric in its composition, the 90-minute voyage was as bewildering as it was enlightening. Big hits from their latest release Stars were front and center while the duo’s monster collaboration with Two Fingers “Orange,” was probably the most played track of the weekend.
CharlesThefirst Debut At The Pagoda
One of the biggest surprises from this year’s lineup was CharlesTheFirst’s arrival at the Pagoda. A usual suspect at The Grove, Charles brought a low-end edge to the festival’s unofficial mainstage. The towering Pagoda was alight with mesmerizing 3D-mapping and Charles stretched the PK’s out with his unmistakable brand of effervescent yet meditative bass music. The Lake Tahoe beatsmith has enjoyed a meteoric rise into the dance music stratosphere and his arrival at The Pagoda underlined his incredible journey so far. Tracks off of his massive 2018 album The Ascent ignited the dance floor like a powder keg. Perhaps festival-goers unfamiliar with Charles’ style have been exposed to one of the best young talents in the game.
ATYYA’s Sunrise Set At The Grove
A master of weighty yet organic vibrations ATYYA’s ethereal sunrise set at The Grove was a mesmerizing moment crystalized by calms skies and tranquil energy. Friends held each other close and snuggled warmly in hammocks and on benches as ATYYA dug deep into his arsenal of enigmatic tunes. The serene scene was painted with a brush as ATYYA used broad strokes of bass to balance out light synth-full flourishes. Spell-bound, the dancefloor of morning-greeting groovers succumbed to ATTYA’s dulcet yet heavy style
Rich-E-Rich Closing Out The Fractal Forest
There is perhaps no more quintessential Shambhala performance than Rich-E-Rich at the Fractal Forest. The Shambhalegend’s one performance each year is always the most anticipated of the weekend and the maestro certainly delivered yet again. Beyond the absolutely fat beats that spiralled from the 360 stage, the Monday morning tradition is a nearly religious experience where the Farmily comes together to partake in one last supper of the wild, weird and bizarre.
While Shambhala is a festival that celebrates individuality, creativity and kinship, nowhere is that more on display than at The Fractal Forest on the final morning of music. Connections were made, laughs were shared and the promise of next year’s Shambhalove was forged. The bittersweet end of the festival is always draining as we look back on all the moments of magic and take stock of how much we have all evolved. Rich-E-Rich is like our personal whacky shepherd guiding his flock safely home year after year.