At one point during his Saturday night highlight-reel set (one that included an unforgettable re-imagining of the theme from “Bill Nye the Science Guy”) in the Fractal Forest at the Shambhala Music Festival, future-funk DJ Kill Paris declared, “This is probably the most human I’ve ever felt in my life.” And that right there, my friends, is what makes Shambhala such a special place. It’s a time and place that exists to break down the barriers we allow to be built up in ourselves and between the world around us. My initial instinct is to write it off as the standard result of a music festival, but Shambhala is more than that.
Maybe it’s because of the mountains that surround the festival grounds. Maybe it’s because of the live-giving river that runs through the property — a most welcome relief from the relentless Kootenay sun. Maybe it’s that after 17 years, the organizers just know what they’re doing. There are probably any number of reasons that make Shambhala such a special place but to dissect the experience too much would be to wring the magic right out of it.
The four days of music on the Farm in Salmo, BC, became a bit of a blur with moments and faces, both on and off the dance floor, strung together more by feeling than by linear time. I’ve been sitting for a few days, letting all of the things I saw soak into my brain, hoping to the heavens that it all just unwinds in front of me, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s probably better I just give you to most important details here, broken down in easy-to-digest list form, because that’s how my brain is working right now. And really, we all love lists for things, don’t we kids? With all that, I give you a few of the highlights from my second straight successful Shambhala Music Festival.
Best set – Featurecast, Saturday night, Fractal Forest
There are so many contenders for this; it’s actually mind-boggling. After narrowing it down to a couple, I must declare the mighty Featurecast the winner of my Shambhala experience. The guy was just so on point with every track he dropped. Seeped in the Ghetto Funk sound I dig so much, his set was undeniably massive, the work of an all-around expert. He even unleashed some extra funky, happy drum ‘n’ bass that I actually enjoyed, which anyone who knows me will tell you is a monumental feat. Big respect to Mr. Mintram.
Most interesting person I encountered
Like any good music festival, the cross-section of attendees is mind-boggling. Like the Best Set award, this really could have gone all kinds of ways as I met a ton of fascinating individuals (I’m beginning to think everyone is interesting if they’re given a chance to speak openly). But, the award has to go to Flip, the tow-truck driver. After locking the keys in my brother’s truck I was forced to walk around to find the only on-site tow-truck service and ran into Flip driving between jobs. He invited to ride with him until he could get to me as he knew that he would never find me again in all the madness. He even stopped to get cold water, which he kindly brought me as well. Driving around with Flip was a blessing. He was filled with Shambhala war stories, insider information and just a lot of general life-advice regarding cell phones (Flip appropriately uses a flip-phone with no numbers programmed into it to help keep the memory sharp), alcohol consumption, and the benefits of family life. I can’t imagine the stress people working Shambhala must be dealing with and Flip is the perfect example of how to handle it all with a smile and a good handshake. Let’s make sure to tip this guy a little better next year, fellow Shambhala-goers. He’s working his ass off.
Best thing I heard all weekend./Moment that filled me with the most love
Beloved members and the spiritual heart of my Sham-Fam, Mike and Jasta got engaged during DnB master Andy C’s set at the Village! As if Shambhala wasn’t already bursting with love, this news just put it over the top. I’m not personally a proponent of marriage, but if there were ever two people that should be married it is these two. Long-standing Shambhala attendees (Mike at 9 years and Jasta at 8, both consecutively), the plan is to return next year to share their nuptials with all at the Pagoda, the “main-stage” of the festival. I was planning on taking next year off, but obviously that will have to wait; there are plans to be made…