Photos: Lucas BarlasWords: AlexUp in British Columbia this past weekend, tens of thousands of people travelled from all over he world to attend the 21st annual Shambhala music festival. And while music is a huge part of it, there is so much more to Shambhala that makes it a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Located on a beautiful farm on the edge of a river, Shambhala strives to bring people together on an adventure to celebrate art, life, and nature.Friday afternoon kicked off with some opening ceremonies at the mystical Grove stage. Nestled in the middle of an ancient cedar grove, the ceremony was a beautiful and atmospheric display of performance arts. Between the soothing yet upbeat music, the singing speaking words of tradition and reawakening, and the two costumed dancers putting on a dazzling display, it was the perfect start to a magical weekend. After the opening ceremony, a parade was led through the festival grounds, spreading energy throughout the entire place.As the sun started to descend in the sky, Liquid Stranger took to the Amp stage. Playing a mix of heavy and energetic bass beats, he got the crowd dancing immediately and kept the energy coming 100% of the time. With a pair of enigmatic dancers on stage to match the music, Liquid Stranger set the tone for the rest the night despite being one of the earlier sets.Just after the sun had set, Fisher began his set at the Pagoda stage. While spinning his groovy and unique house beats, the gigantic backdrop that is the Pagoda was lit up with flashy animations and high powered lasers that cut across the entire night sky. The beats never stopped, and while the crowd danced along below, a party had also gathered behind Fisher on the stage. The huge crowd of people dancing and hugging and having a good time on stage with the DJ added to the crazy yet loving atmosphere present throughout all of Shambhala.After that it was time to wander into the Fractal Forest to watch Opiuo. They brought a great mix of funky and jazzy house beats featuring horns and keys, creating an upbeat atmosphere. The entire forest was filled with light and movement. His set ended by transitioning into a heavy, bass-centric breakdown that really amped up the energy.As the clock hit midnight, Snails began his set at The Village. With its wide open dance floor and upper-level balcony that goes around the entire area, it was the perfect place to open up the pit. The energy inside was crazy, and matched perfectly with his heavy bass sound.The night continued back at the Amp stage, where Whipped Cream took the stage for her 3 AM show. She came out swinging right away with heavy bass beats and didn’t pull any punches. Halfway through her set, she began playing Darude’s infamous “Sandstorm”, only to psyche out the audience and drop her own nasty beat at the breakdown. Her high-octane energy kept the crowd moving for her entire set.Other day 1 standouts: Soup, Stööki Sound, Claud VonStroke, The Funk HuntersDay 2: With music from the night before going well into 7 AM, the start to the second day was a little bit slow for everyone. But it was a perfect day to get some rest in down at the water, where many attendees spent their time enjoying the weather while soaking sore muscles in the cool Salmo river. As the day progressed, signs of weariness were no longer showing and the energy in the festival grounds was high once again.With the sun having set, Alix Perez brought his signature drum and bass beats to the Amp stage. His engaging sound combined with some incredible visuals created a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere, and those walking by were quick to be drawn to the stage. Before long, the entire dance floor was packed and full of people dancing along to his eclectic mixes.Back in the Fractal Forest, mashup genre pioneer Z-Trip was putting on an incredibly unique and exciting show. Starting off with catchy funk beats mixed with bass and a variety of samples, Z-Trip turned the forest into a circus and had the entire place grooving. After some time of this, he would switch it up and drop a heavy bass breakdown for a few minutes before blending it right back into more funky beats. He seamlessly transitioned between these two sounds, keeping his set refreshing and surprisingly cohesive and it really fired up the crowd.After finishing that incredible set, many wandered over to the Pagoda stage to catch Adventure Club’s midnight set. The Canadian electronic duo are well known for their dubstep style, however they did not hold anything back for this appearance. They catered to the audience perfectly, constantly sampling catchy mainstream dubstep songs before transitioning into much more heavy and grimy beats. Towards the end of their set, they played some their old school music while shouting out longtime fans. They really know how to rock the crowd, energy for the night was at an all-time high.At 3 AM, Boogie T brought his southern-influenced electronic riddim music to the Pagoda stage. He adds another layer to his music by featuring many live instruments in the set, including playing some funky saxophone and shredding an electric guitar. A perfect mix of funk, bass, and dubstep, Boogie T’s enthusiastic music was a great way to keep the party rolling despite it being the late hours of the night.At 4 Am at the Pagoda, the night sky was just beginning to lighten up again as Destructo took the stage. He immediately kicked off a groovy drum machine beat, and played incredible house music with the occasional hard hitting bass. As his set went on, the bass seemed to hit harder and harder, until his music transitioned to a heavy bass focused house style filled with heavy drops. Even this late in the night, the crowd was feeling the vibe and the dance floor went on strong even as the sun rose into the sky.Other day 2 standouts: Stylust, Kursa, Skeptical, Boombox Cartel Day 3: The weather on the last day was finally bearable, however this meant the river was a lot less appealing to most festivalgoers. Instead, many people spent their time walking around the grounds, perusing the Artisan Market and getting some much needed fuel from available food vendors (which is all incredible, by the way). As with the day before, the vibe throughout the grounds was pretty relaxed. But you could feel the anxious energy slowly accumulating in the air, and as time went on, it was obvious this was the last bit of calm before the storm.The night kicked off at the Pagoda stage with electronic duo Chuurch. They brought their signature sound of hip-hop and bass influenced house music, the perfect mix of grooving and getting down that raised everyone’s spirits through the roof. The sun slowly set throughout their upbeat performance, getting everyone ready for the final night (it might have also helped that there was a giant robot dancing on stage).The party at the Pagoda continued with the intriguing and talented Black Tiger Sex machine. Decked out in their state-of-the-art light up tiger helmets, the trio took stage and immediately got things going. With their aggressive and in-your-face style of music, BTSM rocked the crowd and blasted heavy drop after drop. With some incredible light displays on stage that were in-sync with their helmet lights, it was an amazing experience and one of the most energetic sets of the entire weekend.As midnight rolled around, Oshi took the Amp stage and played some incredibly heavy trap music. This very young DJ had no troubles getting the crowd moving and kept the energy up with heavy bass and dubstep infused mixes. A surprising highlight from his set- stopping the electronic music to pay homage to Vanessa Carlton by playing A Thousand Miles and having the whole crowd sing along with him.At 2 am back in The Village, London native Delta Heavy began his incredible drum and bass infused dubstep set. Once the music began the energy did not stop, and the area was full of people dancing along to the fast and loud mixes. The entire balcony that lined the outside of the dance floor was also alive with movement, and it continued throughout the whole set. Delta Heavy was relentless with his music, dropping beat after beat and stoking up the audience. It was an incredible moment as his set finally winded down and the place went crazy over the performance.Finally, back at the Pagoda for his 2:30 am set, Malaa kept the night festivities going. Sporting his usual balaclava (his identity is technically unknown), Malaa quickly got the crowd rocking to his future house style beats. Mixing in a steady dose of bass and the occasional breakdown, the dynamic set was an excellent place to dance out the last few ounces of energy left from the festival.Other day 3 standouts: Feed Me, Rezz, Quix, MoontricksShambhala is a truly unique experience. It stands out from other music festivals in a variety of ways, but perhaps mainly in it’s commitment to creating the best experience possible for attendees. From the very beginning, Shambhala’s guiding principle has been “it’s all about the people on the dance floor” and they accept no corporate sponsorship. This festival is by the people, for the people. The fun, crazy, loving, energetic, and safe atmosphere created in Salmo for the weekend is certainly unlike any other event I have ever attended.
EYES & EDGE