Twenty-one years of floor shaking, groundbreaking, state of the art, festival production and performance recently took over a beautiful farm tucked away in the thick and luscious forested mountain region in British Colombia. None other than one of the most revered music camping festivals in the EDM scene – Shambhala Music Festival. To many, ‘Shambhala’ makes us think of Excision’s nasty live mixes at this festival. When I was younger and getting into this scene, those mixes are a huge factor that pulled me into this lifestyle. Unfortunately, Excision wasn’t there this year. However; it gave everybody at the festival a different aspect of enjoying the festival and other artists to look out for. The talent that Shambhala brought was extremely diverse and made it so you had the option of consistently hearing dank music all day & night at this festival! From 6 massive stages that you can choose from, each with a different theme with a unique artist booking, the opportunities to see new music or your favorite acts were practically near endless during the festival duration.
Supported with PK Sound on 5 of the 7 stages, with the other stages being loaded up with Funktion One Sound, the stages literally rocked you no matter where you were. The bigger stages, such as; The Pagoda or The Village, were loaded up with PK Trinity Sound, the newest product from PK which actually remotely opened up the range of sound depending on the size of the crowd. Not only was the sound top notch, the visual production was absolutely mind melting! Again each stage had its own vibe and theme… so did the visual production. With this variety in quality visuals, the concept of being able to enjoy intimate visuals at one stage, to extreme lasers and screen projection at the other to LED chaos at another is just one of a kind. This festival does the best of combing intimate vibes with a massive…mind-blowing experience that will last a lifetime. Want to read how Shambhala rocked my face, ears, and soul into another Dimension? Then be sure to check out the rest of our in-depth review below!! Make sure to give us a like on social media and share this around if you can’t wait to be on the farm (again!)
Click on the picture to enlarge the 2018 Schedule for Shambhala (some artists did not show up due to unexpected Reasons…)
Like any camping festival where they have the pre-party on Thursday making it so the event started lightly, Shambhala had only two stages operating and it offered a slight tease of the wonders that were to be experienced later that weekend. Two of the more intimate stages set the vibes of Shambhala for the pre-party, as they had The Living Room and The AMPhitheater running as the only stages for Thursday. The Living Room was packed tight with deep dub and west coast lo-fi rap & hip hop while the AMP ran a different route. The AMP hosted a variety of different genres but basically stuck to the underground bass scene. From TLMZN, to Digital Ethos, to even Born Dirty, the first night was just a small glimpse of the adventures that were about to unfold.
Day Time Art Installations
Before getting devoured by bass at any of the stages, I had to take a gander through the festival grounds to not only get a layout of the grounds but to revel in some of the art installations. They were best to experience at night, but by the Grove Stage, an area surrounded by trees, wooden structures, and nature-inspired art, the installations there were best seen in the daylight where you could see the sheer talent of the art. Check some of our favorites of the various art installations below.
Wakaan Kickstarted Friday into GNAR GNAR
Friday stirred the pot of mixed genres, heavy bass, amazing tunes, and the best of vibes! Before nightfall, Wakaan’s main wizard and founder, Liquid Stranger, took over the AMPhitheater stage for probably some of the craziest two hours at Shambhala. An extended set for the legend and one of the most hyped performances of the weekend. *Yes It was Liquid Stranger but he played a plethora of Wakaan beats that made this performance a Wakaan spotlight. Especially when Space Jesus joined the set for a mini b2b! From Liquid Stranger playing tracks from Minnesota, Mersiv, Peekaboo, and other acts who have released on Wakaan. This performance from Liquid Stranger was the perfect time for him to flex Wakaan’s muscles and show just how gnarly the music that they putting out truly is.
House Music on The Pagoda.. All Night Beaches
To clarify, the beach on the river by Living Room and at Muscle Beach was open 24/7 and so the beaches were open “all night”. But back to the house…music – on Friday of Shambhala, one of the main stages, The Pagoda, hosted a wide variety of world-class house music. They brought in acts like; Fisher, Claptone, Justin Martin, Claude VonStroke and many more! Not only was it a house party from sunset to sunrise, but the visuals on the stage were just outrageously humorous and yet intense. Check out a little sampling of the beautiful house music in the depths of Friday Night by Claptone.
Workshops are always a great amenity to a festival! They offer the attendees the opportunity to gain more knowledge and view other perspectives while also potentially getting the help you need. Workshops vary from Physical activities such as yoga, flow arts, and more and into educational and inspirational workshops such as; Riddim Ferenadez‘s Music Production or a workshop on agriculture/ self-sufficiency. The festival brought in a great number of amazing workshops for many to enjoy, it’s just getting people up early to get to these workshops before the chaos from the music begins!
Village Hotbox Stylust’s Style
Some true party people had come to really elevate the vibes at Shambhala during Stylust‘s performance at the Village. Partially brought on by thousands of free joints gifted to bystanders in the crowd from some generous people. This was a pure delight, but the nasty music that Stylust was throwing down was the true kicker. One of the more anticipated sets as Stylust has been honing in on his production and nailing his sound design really hard for the last couple years. Lately, he finally converted his name From Stylust Beats to just Stylust, trimming the fat in his name and lighting a fire that has sparked across the world.
Musical Chaos at Night
Saturday was an absolutely bonkers night for music. All the stages were absolutely loaded up with talented musical acts that cater to the ears of many and being an avid lover of all types of music, the diversity that took place this night was like being in musical heaven…only stacked with PK sound and the craziest visuals to date. Let’s start it off at the Pagoda stage where the whole night was one of the best stage lineups of artists that I have ever seen. Mat The Alien took many by surprise with his Rastafarian guest vocalist, unique take on record scratching, and most excellent music selection! He lead the vibe into the musical chaos that was about to ensue throughout the grounds. Following Mat the Alien was one of Kannibalen Records prized artists, Dabin. He took Shambhala through an emotional roller coaster as he played out vibey future bass music and mixed it in with some nasty filthy music. From the bangers in our scene to some of the tracks that Kannibalen records have released, Dabin was “on one.” On top of the prime music selection, he incorporated his guitar and had adorable visuals that took us into the nightfall for a night we will never forget! ‘Changing the Game,’ Kursa took over the Pagoda Stage for a one a kind performance. Showcasing halftime music through their own production and record label, Slug Wife, Kursa took the vibes to the next level. They had incorporated some of the oddest but fitting and disturbingly trippy visuals that could be projected on that stage. From aliens with devilish tongues to eyeballs, and sacred geometry, the visuals matched the wonky music perfectly. What a way to end our their debut North American Tour at Shambhala.
Defunk followed the halftime artists up with his funkadelic bass music that took all of Shambhala audience away! This Canadian producer has performed for the past 4 years but this year was his first official performing at the Pagoda stage! A massive upgrade from the previous years because this allows for visuals to take the performance to the next level. He had his close friend, Ben L of Beama Visual Entertainment, customize the visuals for this performance which included the funk bot! You can check out more about his performance with our exclusive interview here! His performance was perfect for the bass-heavy crowd that attended Shambhala and loosened the crowd up perfectly for the following artists who also are Canadian. Renowned dubstep producers, Adventure Club took the already worked up crowd and took them to a whole different playing field. Mashing up heavy dubstep with metal, Adventure Club has yet again re-defined electronic music. Several years back they had been a huge influence on melodic dubstep and yet again they are a massive influence on metal-dubstep. Check out this little snippet of their performance below!
During Adventure Club, The Glitch Mob had a DJ set that took over the Village for a bumping set of glitch hop and bass. They had led the vibes perfectly into Boombox Cartel that then took the crowd for a wild & unexpected run. Boombox Cartel had turned the woods of the Village into a loco fiesta! Mashing up ethnic dance music with heavy bass, Boombox Cartel made sure to make his performance stick out from the rest.
After getting my face annihilated by bass, a necessity of liquid drum n bass/neurofunk was at an all-time high. Thankfully, one of the most iconic names in drum and bass, Koan Sound, was a performance that was hosted on the Pagoda Stage where the liquidy and glitchy visuals came in the clutch in matching with the beautiful music. Koan Sound had their heavy bass parts during their set to keep up with the vibe of the festival, but they also didn’t hold back from their classics such as Dynasty, Slyfox, or other old-school tracks like that. They kept their performance fresh though by mashing up unreleased beats and other songs that made for a Koan Sound experience by the likes that I have never seen before. Their powerful ending to their set was an emotional tear-jerker. Koan Sound, who rarely talks on the microphone, thanked the audience for a wonderful time and then had told us that the following song will be their last song of the night, which the song was inspired from their last trip in Canada where they spent several days in nature. As soon as they said that and lead to this song that embodied the vibe of Canada’s Nature, it changed everything! The visuals matched the water droplets and the snaps of the snares were mimicking the sounds of fallen branches cracking. Even the breeze and flow of water could be recognized in the song, but with the Koan Sound touch of expertise, it was an experience that wasn’t just pleasing to the ears, it was relaxing to the soul, while energizing the mind and making the audience a melting pot of emotions. Truthfully, this experience is one that could have only been witnessed at Shambhala. Check out this video of some funky drum n bass from the Don’s below: (And if anyone has any video of their last song, please share with us in some fashion, we would be so appreciative!)
Not keeping the chill vibes for long, Koan Sound ended and Boogie T. quickly turned the place upside down and into a rowdy town. Obviously with the other stages having talented acts, a lot of the crowd was split up between stages, but for this one quick hour, the Pagoda was jam-packed for this riddim-funk-dubstep performance from Boogie T. He incorporated his guitar and vocals along with tons of unreleased songs and nasty collabs for a set that rocked the floor of Shambhala! Check out a snippet of this bass pumping performance! (Following this set was the last artist of the night on the Pagoda, the man who helped house music get a foothold in the states, Destructo. Before he took over for his 4-hour set, he had started a chant for an encore by Boogie T, which led into 5-8 minutes of grimy before, it turned into a house party.)
Before we knew it, the sky was beginning to illuminate with a pink/purple haze that ever so slowly grew into the jaw-dropping Canadian Sunrise in the Mountains. On the Amphitheater stage, a deep, dark, and dangerous producer took us into the beauty of the dark dubs. Khiva, a female deep-dub producer had some Shambhaler’s hooked with her luscious womps. One of my friends/crew members went absolutely bonkers during this set with the biggest smiles and had repeatedly told me that this was hands down his favorite set! Listening to the ominous beats that had traces of O.G sounding dubstep while leading into the Sunday morning sunrise was unlike anything else and was one of the clear highlights of the weekend.
Unfortunately, Khiva’s set didn’t completely make it to the sunrise as it was scheduled to end around 5:30 am. Thankfully though, there were plenty of options for other stages to host a prime sunrise experience at and for us, that lead us back to the Destructo performance rocking the Pagoda Stage. He was scheduled at 4:00 am and was supposed to end at 6:00… well…it wouldn’t be a true house party if it didn’t go for longer than expected with some gnarly b2b’s! The man himself, Gary Richards, brought Canadian lean bass duo, Chuurch on stage for a while for an insane b2b that lasted a while. After that b2b, Destructo had the stage to his own for a while until the stage owner and manager joined his side to do a b2b that Shambhala will never forget. This Sunrise performance held true to its name as the Pagoda stage rocked house music until 8:30am… another two hours of music that we got graced with! Even the stage owner of the Pagoda stage couldn’t believe his eyes with the crowds response and how many people were still wanting to party. Truly it was a bonding experience for all of those who were there because that was something extraordinary that yet felt so right as Destructo has performed at Shambhala a handful of times beforehand. A perfect end to Saturday night and a precious start to the last day of music at Shambhala! (?)
Sunday is for Church
Don’t we all know, Sunday is for Church? Well, apparently Shambhala does because they loaded up righteous music all day. Not only that but they brought several artists who have a cult-like type of following and Church-related references in their production to the Pagoda stage for a holy experience. They kicked off the religious vibes with some lean bass from the Canadian duo, Chuurch. These guys are redefining house & electro music as their sounds are a ‘club like type of feel’ with squishy sounding electro. Chuurch made the vibe perfect for the following artist who comes from deadmau5‘s record label mau5trap, Blackgummy. His subtle yet heavy electro blew up on the pagoda with lasers that matched his ravey feel oh so perfectly. Next, another church session ensued on the Pagoda stage with Kannibalen founders, Black Tiger Sex Machine. For an hour an half, the Pagoda got rowdier than usual as this church session grazed the sounds of electro, drum and bass, dubstep, and future bass/trap! They brought the headbangers out of the house heads for a clash unlike any other.
The energy was high that led to Feed Me taking advantage of the energetic performance. They followed up BTSM with some nasty and impressive visuals on the pagoda stage along with a unique blend of his classic music and new beats. But that was not all, his wild set led Shambhala into the Cult of Rezz. Seriously, a cult for Space Mom. The crowd expanded past the gates of the Pagoda into the dining area for the food vendors. She rightfully deserves the amazing crowd response too, coming from mau5trap records as well, Rezz, is the biggest up and coming name who is only getting bigger & bigger. Recently she released her newest album, A Certain Kind of Magic, and thankfully she performed a handful of those songs on this stage for a mind-melting and skin wrenching wonderful experience… and she did not hold back on the nasty beats nor those gnarly visuals! She opened with “Life & Death” and led into “Hex” with another massive up & coming producer, 1788-L. You can view the opening below!
The last big act that I personally caught on the Pagoda stage was the masked magician, Malaa. A French house producer, no one really knows who he is! For a while, many speculated it was Tchami or Dj Snake, but those speculations have seemed to die out. None the less, whoever it is, the deep house/bass house that was played was just ‘Notorious.’
Fractal Forest Was Irresistible Late Sunday
One of the stages not really mentioned in this review article is Fractal Forest and that is because “the staff wishes to keep it a unique experience that not even media can cover that way it makes people have to physically check out the stage.” This stage was nested in the woods that had 360 coverage of lasers over the audience and the stage was located in the middle of the area, with random art circling the perimeter, making it an experience you can only truly get there. There were definite amazing artists that I caught at Fractal Forest throughout the weekend but on Sunday with a special 2¢ 30 minute power set and an extended Dr. Fresch set that breached the morning hours, the Fractal Forest was irresistible for me! Especially having done tons of walking and coverage of the festival throughout the weekend, getting some time to rage to some of my favorite music was a huge need!
2¢ is a back to back project between heavy bass trap artists, CRAZE and Four Color Zach. Together they combine their sounds for an ultimate showcase of trap & bass music. They turned the trippy looking environment into a wild party that was lit with heavy and nasty sounds. Their performance was right around midnight time, peak time to get lo’ with “Shambhallers”.
Not too much later in the night, Dr. Fresch, an innovator of Ghetto House music, had a plump 2 and a half hour set. For his production, he does a wonderful blend of modern hip-hop music & beats and combines it with extremely bass heavy and groovy house music. This was the sound to listen to as the last hours of Shambhala was winding down to a close. His performance mashed the classy house and the pump up bass house that gave the Shambhallers at Fractal Forest a wild two & a half hour performance!
Final Sunrise on the Farm for the 2018 Festival
During the Dr. Fresch gnarly-ness, I had to go see the brothers end out the Amphitheater stage, none other than the duo from a small town in Ohio, Yheti and his little bro, Toadface. Together, these experimental bass artists are a one of a kind sound. Hitting odd frequencies and notes but wrapping it together for a ‘beautiful.beautiful.beautiful’ experience! Seeing them throw down while the sun was slowly rising in the mountain range behind was truly a sight to see!
When that set finished and I had gotten my fulfillment of house music, I had to go see the wizard of magnificent sunrise performances. The musical genius himself, Random Rab. I had happened to get to the set early to catch the tail end of the debut performance from 29 Palms who is two of the three members from The Glitch Mob who came together for an exhilarating performance. They threw down sounds that closely relate to ambient dance music and mellow house music. A perfect sound for the waking hours of Monday. As soon as 29 Palms finished, Random Rab took over with an awe-inspiring opening. He busted out the microphone to sing melodic lyrics with a gentle backbeat. Sometimes his performances can get really full with ambient sounds, but this introduction was full of excitement and energy. I personally couldn’t have been happier with who I had chosen to catch my last set at Shambhala.
Beyond appreciative and thankful for this opportunity
Words can not be put together to form an expression of how grateful and thankful I am for this AMAZING opportunity of covering a bucket list festival. Bucket List Festival: is a festival that is on a bucket list of Must Experiences and for me, this was the first Camping festival that hit the Music Festival Bucket List. It is absolutely mind boggling to have been able to work with some of my long-term idols. Huge shout outs to The Confluence (Press team who brought us on) and Shambhala Music Festival Crew…. I Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for not only curating one of the best festivals that I have ever experienced, or gotten the privilege of covering, but for being one of the best weekends of my life. A rejuvenating weekend with some of the most inspiration that comes from around the world tucked away on an intimate farm in an absolutely beautiful location in the mountains of Canada. There is a reason this festival has been going on for 21 years, soon to be 22… and to truly grasp how a festival can hold their reign for that long, well… you just need to experience it in person. (Thank you for your patience on this article as I had several major life events happen to me after returning from Shambhala.)
Remember tickets are on sale for next year! Hop on them before they sell out! Relive this year’s event with this official recap!
Author: Dom Ragusa