Few things have ever struck me so hard as Shambhala Music Festival did this year. There are so many things I could talk about, but I’m going to just give it a general overhaul from day to day. One thing I would like to say first is a HUGE thank you to Farmboy and CAZ Productions for allowing this to happen every year and for being amazing people and allowing us into your backyard for this madness.
Another big up to Jeremy Bridge PK (aka Subvert) and the rest of the PK crew for the crazy bass assault this year and every year. Things like this happen because of you and your killer staff and volunteers. The Village is THE stage in my opinion, and the amount of time and energy you guys put into it really shows. Its going to be pretty hard to raise the bar on this one, but I know you guys will do it.
Last and not least, thank you to the volunteers who give their time and effort to this festival. I’ve done my work on it, and I know it can be stressful. But without you guys, this festival would not happen at all. Volunteers have been and always will be the life-blood of the electronic music scene.
And so without further ado, I bring you into the world of Shambhala Music Festival 2009:
EARLY ENTRY – Wednesday and Thursday
So for something new this year, and I suppose it was also to keep people off the highway, they let us into the lineup at midnight on Wednesday, which was pretty chill considering it allowed for me and the massive throng of people to get properly acquainted with some new faces and of course meet some old ones. Pretty much just spent 8 hours in the field waiting for actual entry. I’m not going to lie, I got a little drunk and meandered around.
It was kind of dark and I lost my car a few times. I was chilling in my ride for a bit just cranking out some new tunes that I’d been working on just before leaving and Datsik, a Dubstep producer from Kelowna who I’m a fairly big fan of popped up and said he was digging the beats. Pretty much made my day right there. Around noon we finally get through the gates with the basic questions asked; “Any drugs or alchohol?” or “Do you have any weapons on you?” And on we go into fairyland.
Ended up finding my buddies pretty quickly and got hooked up with a super sweet camping spot with tons of room to play and grass growing all over the place. Of course, the best part was the tons of trees protecting us from the glowing hot Kootenay sun (Trust me, it’s important). One thing about this site was that it was picked out by my friend Devon (Philthy City Eradik) and was kind of a secondary party place for us cats and a few of the PK guys. Even so, it was pretty rad.
Pretty much just spent Wednesday and Thursday walking around checking out the vendors, eating the food and trying to find people that I could remember. Other than that, swimming at the beach and hanging out with my buddies at the campsite. Made sure to get good sleep for the next 3 days of madness. I did manage to catch a couple shows at the Rock Pit; once again – a great mash up scratch set from Mat the Alien. And though, I didn’t see it – there was an awesome ZOMBIE BURLESQUE SHOW done by Sweet Soul Burlesque which if I’d known, I wouldn’t be kicking myself in the ass for missing. Also checked out Poirier, who made some intense psychedelic sounds infused with reggae and hip hop accompanied by lots of basses.
FRIDAY – It Starts
Woke up, took a dip in the river, grabbed some growlies and patiently waited for The Village to open. Upon entry, it was apparent that there had been a massive amount of work done on the stage; both for sound and artistic design. Towering aroung 70 feet in the air, the gigantic dome was laid casually with what looked to be fauna and tiny little Ewok shelters. An amazing array of lights and screens poked their heads out of here and there hiding amongst the decor. Hanging to the right and the left of the DJ booth were two rows of high end speakers reaching roughly about 30 feet vertically. Directly to the front of the booth were enormous bassbins some 8 feet high each with people dancing on them and rocking out. To the right, a pleasant little waterfall cascaded serenely into a small pond.360 degrees around, walkways with the pointed and psychedelic patterns emblazoned on them reached for the sky and boxed the dancefloor in.
With a solid opening set done by Vancouver’s own Glitchy and Scratchy and a little help from their counterpart Ill-Esha from the Integrated Grime Unit doing some amazing vocals, the party was on. Fierce Dubstep bass and Glitch Hop vocals resounded from every corner of the stage permeating the air with a solid expectation of things to come. The crystal clear 110000 watts of crisp and delicious audio wizardry were by far one of the greatest highlights for me. I’ve never heard such a large system actually pump out such high quality madness (On a side note, I had heard that some dude was kicked out for rubbing his junk all over the speakers – which is both alarming and gross, but also pretty awesome because I know that I’ve joked about it with friends.). Needless to say, Glitchy and Scratchy did an amazing opener and it really kicked off the entire Village stage with a great start.
Glitchy and Scratchy rip it up opening @ The Village
As it started to get dark, I suddenly realized that I had been in the sun for quite awhile and probably should have chilled out a little more because nap time chose to jump me and steal my wallet… or at least put me to sleep. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed – I had wanted to hit up Taal Mala and Daega Sound at the Living Room around 1 in the morning. Both of these are insanely talented, rattle some serious bassbin bidnizz and I love hearing them every time they come into Victoria or the surrounding area. Alas, it was not meant to be. Either way, I still had 2 of the hardest days to party like a rockstar..
SATURDAY – The Showcase
Waking up Saturday was a bit of an ordeal, I think I had gotten a light case of heatstroke and was super dizzy – either that, or all the party favors. Regardless, I found myself waking up next to my buddies truck using a rolled up tarp as a pillow and was wearing another friend’s sandal. This for me was the concrete evidence that I had begun Shambhala. Forcing myself to go to the river and cool my head down, I relaxed a little bit and tried to find the shadier parts of the beach. It was then that hunger overtook me and I made my trip to the food court. After a scrumptious meal of chicken donairs (God these were so good. It should be illegal to put that much tzatziki on anything.) and some fresh cherries. I decided I would check out the hip hop showcase in the Village. Hosted by Maestro Fresh Wes, a legend of the hip hop scene and an amazing showman to boot, there was some seriously great talent lined up for this showcase. I cannot for the life of me remember any of their names, but I was left impressed. Finally Maestro himself started his set, and did he rock it hard. If anybody thinks that this man has lost his talent, than they need to rethink a few things. Maestro slayed the crowd, got the party moving and like that – Saturday night was at full tilt.
Maestro Fresh Wes rocking ‘er oldskool
Coming right after was Zajko, with a fusion of dubstep, breaks and drum and bass. Although the music was pretty good, I have to admit that it didn’t really set up the mood for the rest of the night coming in between hip hop and drum and bass. It was still a pretty epic set nonetheless and some amazing grimey basses spewed their awesome all over the dance floor. The second half his set however, did end on a drum and bass/tech/glitch step note and really got the floor pumping for the inevitable craziness. I’m super glad that I was able to see him though – I really wanted to be there and support any and all Glitch Hop Forum crew. Stepping up to the plate next were the Spiral Architects, a coupling of Benny B-Side and Deception PK smashing the dancefloor senseless with hard-hitting, bass punching tech step. A really good mixture of rough basslines, intense drums and mad amounts of scratching. Putting these guys on where they were was a really good choice and I felt that they were one of the best acts throughout the weekend. Followed by Fat Pat, an old-timer on the decks for the Village – His mean, crunchy basslines describe what I best like about glitch hop and I’m glad to see someone to rep it this well. His new tracks really kept in time and style to his older ones and thank god. That Dirty Bird track always gets a laugh out of me. One of the things that really got me going was his intro, which was a piano rendition of the Imperial March from Star Wars. Props up for this solid-as-hell set.
Spiral Architects tech out and slay some speaker
An old time favorite, Fat Pat brings Glitch to another level
Now with the party in full motion, Jeff Abel – better known as Excision decided to grace us with his evil taunting basslines and MASSIVE dubstep attack. I have never been disappointed by this mans ability to shake the ground and all surrounding areas, this set was no exception. Even buddies of mine who aren’t into dubstep were rollin’ hard out to this wompfest. As a huge international producer and dj that volunteers for shambhala, I really have to give respect and thanks to this man. At this point, it is pitch black out and the lights are just going crazy – flashing blues, reds, whites and various mixes of all of these while colored fixtures flash on and off giving off some sort of large scale massive strobe. Every year I find myself looking around about this time and for some reason, it always feels like I’m inside and that the village is just in some gigantic arena. It isn’t, and this is the madness that I’ve self-prescribed myself to fall into.
Track by Excision: Listen and be amazed
Dropping some of the hardest beats I heard all Shambhala, Ewun – a drum and bass machine from New York, destroyed the Village with a bassquake that left a hollow feeling where my brain should have been. Easily covering at least 7.5 on the Richter scale. As I drifted into overdrive, the sound just got more severe and I’ll admit. Speaker hugging at this point was a definite must. The only time I even went that close to those speakers without some sort of ear protection. It was worth it. By far, one of my favorite sets this year. He stopped for awhile just to say, “Well damn, if this isn’t the best stage here!” I really don’t think that anyone could disagree.
Ewun makes you eat bass sandwiches
Phone Tap by Ewun
If you don’t know this next dj and producer, you’ve been living in a time warp and it’s time for you to pull out. I speak of the one and only UK master of dark drum and bass – SPOR. This for me was the highlight of pretty much all Shambhala and this man did not disappoint. Some huge respect out to this guy for being one of the people actually revolutionizing drum and bass. The tearing, evil basslines that come out of the speakers when he played drove a spike of sound into me and completed my transformation to a pure bass entity. Though, around the end – there was a little more experimentation with some newer sounds, the entire set was something to be cowed by. It was seriously that intense. He came up to the VIP after his set and tagged the beer fridge, hung out with us for a bit and I can honestly say that he was a pretty chill guy and that I am glad that I got to see him. He definitely deserved his due on the scene and it was amazing. If you haven’t already, check this man out and support his radness.
Thank you Spor for throwing down and replacing my faith in drum and bass
The last man of the night that I saw was Eprom, one of the groundbreaking glitch artists from San Francisco and a person I’ve had the pleasure of talking with via Glitch Hop Forum. While I was a little sad that Glitch Mob wouldn’t be playing this year, I’m pretty sure that this was a better replacement. Fresh and new, hyphy as hell and bass face on. His style is just so fresh and his production value amazing. As far as I’m concerned after seeing him, he can be the new Glitch Mob. I pretty much spent the entire time he played hanging out with the Vancouver duo, Ill-Esha and Dewey db and rocking out to this massive crunkdown. This was a great way to end the night and everything after that was a blur of colors, magic and happy. My bass needs had been sated and I was content. The rest of the night was pretty much just spent stumblimg around and talking with random people.
Eprom: Next level Glitchmaster
SUNDAY: The last man standing.
By the gods was I angry when I woke up on this morning. I was sore, tired and dazed as hell. I was supposed to be at the Living Room for Heyoka at 6:00 but I didn’t wake up until 8:00 (ish). Hustled my way to the beach where I caught the tail end of his set. Like the last two tracks. I was a little pissed at having slept the entire day and still kind of groggy and not all there but I’ll give the man credit for his last two tracks. Subswara came on after and I chilled there for about half an hour. Super glad I got to see them. These guys are pretty much just audio candy. Glitchy, tribal rhythms and some great vocals really set my early (morning?) mood and kind of shrug off a little of the grog. From that point I decided I would just hit the Village stage again and cut my losses with everything else. So off I went back to home sweet home.
I chose a nice little spot off to the side on the stairways and chilled out with my friends from the Whimsey Crew, and listened to Max Ulis smash the Village in the ears with some gigantic bass. Some pretty dope tracks went off and I started to really get a feel for what the night would be like, or at least what I thought it would be. Either way, Mr.Ulis is the man, and he played a sick set. If any of you don’t know – he is one of the masterminds behind Lighta! – A Vancouver crew jumping up as hard as they can get it by combining sick new dubstep talent, heavy hitters in the scene and probably the best sound system in Western Canada (aside from PK of course). In the last few years, Lighta! has transformed the West Coast Canadian scene and really put Canada on the map. With awesome selection and top-notch dj’s like Max, it’s no wonder.
Max Ulis Pumps out some insane bass magic.
Finally, the man of the hour arrives with over an hour of face-punching bass. Subvert (aka PK) got up on the decks and threw down large enough to convert nuns into wild orgies. This is his show, his stage and his tunes are off-the-hook. Heavy wobbles, broken glitch beats and massive energy catalyzed the entire crowd and everybody sprung into a massive frenzy of flailing arms, pounding feet and a flurry of screams and haze. I really have to give it out to this man. I’m pretty sure he’s some sort of superhuman cyborg capable of making the word cool happen. Being there and watching him play his set to a packed house on his mammoth system at full volume was a treat and a half. I was thoroughly mesmerized and bewildered at the level in which everything had culminated to this point, preparing to boil over and saturate every person with THE SHAMBHALA VIBE. Hearing his new ep’s songs from Speaker Humping was a special treat for me, they are tracks that almost always end up in my sets, and on that system… well, you get the idea.
Subvert tests his system
As Subvert gets off, UK dubstep sensation Benga hopped up to jam a mouthful of awesome in everybody’s face. One of the original creators of dubstep, Benga has really carved a niche out for himself in the electronic music world. I heard that his Saturday set on the beach was rather rudely interrupted by a belligerent Craze who really had no place being there in the first place. So kudos to Benga for being twice the man and still giving it all your best on Sunday. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge Benga fan when it comes to his tracks, I’ve got a few on my computer – but they rarely get played if at all. I was a little surprised to find myself rocking out as much as I did to him and I think he played a really good set. Mixing seemed right on cue and there was a massive amount of bass. That’s really all that I could ask for.
Londons Benga gets a little crazy
I was a little worn out by the end of Bengas set, so I ended up taking a nap to his subsonic vibrations for the last bit of his set right there at the Village. I don’t really understand how people have trouble falling asleep to electronic music. It has always been super awesome to pass out to. Dubstep especially with all the low frequencies coming out. Mind you, I wasn’t directly next to the speakers, but still – great power nap. I had a magical dream where Shamik was beatboxing in it, but I didn’t come to really until Bassnectar donkey punched the crowd with a massive wall of bass. As always, Lorin killed this shit and retained his title of Bassnectar. Not that anybody thought differently of course. I have always considered him to pretty much be the resident DJ of Shambhala. This year he actually played a few older tracks that I was happy to be reacquainted with. I’ll let you in on something really neat. It is AWESOME to wake up and have Bassnectar smashing away on a 110000 watt system 30 feet from you.
Yup, Bassnectar. Nuff said
At 2:30 N-Type hit the decks with some EVIL monster dubstep. This was a great producer to put in after Bassnectar and it just kept the party jumping. This dude killed it in so many ways. Really good variance in music and those basslines… oho. Benga started going after the mic and just blew away what was left of my fragile bass punished mind. So many original tracks and I got to hear them LOUD AS FUCK. Dark Matter was disgusting to hear on that system. I’m really looking forward to seeing him again in Vancouver with Eskmo on September 19. That show is going to slay.
N-Types Dark Matter
Last show of the night was Ill.Gates himself aka. The Phat Conducter. I can never get enough of this guy. Amazing production skills, seamless mixing and humble as hell. I have been consistently impressed by this man for several years now and I can say that he is probably the poster boy for Canadian electronic music. This was essentially an hour and a bit of pure AWESOME. Glitch hop, dubstep, breaks, wobble, you name it… bordering on the edge of genius insanity is what this man does and I was incredibly happy to be a part of his show. The only true depth of how to explain what he sounded like on that system would be for me to literally turn you into a giant subwoofer and feed you large amounts of bass all day. Since I can’t do that (yet), I will let you know that he dropped some completely unknown tracks that were just as equally awesome as every track that I already do know. With the end of his set, I decided to retire for sometime to get a little brainpower back in me for the ride home.
Ill.Gates finishes my Shambhala
A HUGE THANK YOU
This was my eighth Shambhala and by far the best time I have ever had. Literally, everything was perfect and the vibe was spectacular. I enjoyed reuniting with old friends, making new ones and all the wonderful people who take the time to not only come to this festival, but for those who give their time and effort to make this show run so well. I feel so privleged the entire time to live in such a beautiful country like Canada and to be able to attend such magical things as this festival. Stuff like this really does remind me that this is the greatest country on the planet. I feel so lucky that I live in this age where we can do stuff like this. It really is an amazing feeling. A couple years ago after leaving Shambhala, I got back home and promptly cried when I realized the truth about things like this – I still do cry internally, but it’s more of a happy feeling that floods through my body and tides me over until the next year. One more time - huge shout out to Farmboy, CAZ, PK, Sue, Rich, the staff and volunteers, every stage and every person that comes – no matter what you’re there for. This festival is made by ALL OF YOU.
I’ll see you on the road to Shambhala.