Shambhala 2014: The Biggest and Best Year Yet
Hannah and Maddy take Shambhala 2014
This is an account of Shambhala Music Festival 2014 by two die-hard Shambhalovers. This was our second year spent at the farm, and although we wouldn’t consider ourselves true Shambhala veterans, like many of the attendees who were there for their seventh, eighth or even seventeenth year, we were excited to share the magic of Shambhala with many of our friends, who were first-year “virgins.” With the usual six stages, but more attendees than ever before, one question we could not help but ask ourselves this year was: ‘Is Shambhala getting too big for its boots?’ The 2014 lineup was astonishing, even in its earliest stages, and it drew in a different crowd than the usual gang of Canadian hippies and a smattering of Americans.
Less than one week before the gates were to open, Shambhala Music Festival made a big announcement; the allotted 10,000 tickets had sold out and they were releasing 1,000 more tickets. This was unprecedented in the history of Shambhala, and the result was the biggest crowd the festival had ever seen.
Amazingly, even with the record-breaking number of attendees and scorching hot days, there were no fatalities this year. In fact, Shambhala Music Festival has only seen one drug-related death in its’ 17 years. Among many good things, one thing Shambhala does right is harm reduction. The Canadian festival takes a different approach to harm reduction than we’ve witnessed in mainstream American festivals. In addition to the Sanctuary, there is also a Women’s Safe Space tent as well as a drug-testing tent. In addition, the ‘farmily’ really does take care of each other. Each time I took a seat on the grass by myself, I was approached by a friendly fellow attendee just checking in to make sure I was okay and happy. Our account of the festival is limited to the sets we were able to see. If only we had a time-turner and could see every single artist on the Shambhala lineup. Each and every artist, from the ever-popular Bassnectar, to new talent such as Hannah Wants, to lesser-known names such as Smalltown DJs and Stylust Beats, is incredibly talented in their own way. The Shambhala team sure knows how to curate a fantastic lineup. Here are our favorites, broken down by day:
To our surprise, Thursday was, by far, our favorite night of Shambhala. With a much smaller group of attendees present, and only two stages playing music, the vibes were right on point. The Ampitheatre, a stage we neglected for the rest of the festival, was full of people just happy to finally be back home at Shambhala. One of the best surprises of the night for us was seeing Freddy Todd when Thriftworks, unfortunately, could not make it for his set. Followed by Robot Koch, The Librarian, and Astronomar, the Ampitheatre kept a laid-back, groovy feel all night. With one (okay…two) poutine breaks, we were able to dance all night and kick off the festival feeling stoked to be there, but not too overwhelmed with the amount of music there was to see.
The best set of the night for us was, hands down, The Librarian. Not only does she epitomize the look of a sexy librarian, she also lays some pretty sexy beats. Check out the rest of her music here.
Friday, the moment we had all been waiting for– the debut of music at The Village, The Grove, The Fractal Forest and The Pagoda, in addition to The Ampitheatre and The Living Room, which had been open the previous night. The music began at 11am, and after a morning dip in the river to refresh ourselves from the heat of the day, the first set we were able to catch was sun:monx in The Grove. If you’re familiar with Opiou, you really need to check out the downtempo, live stylings of his live band, sun:monx. All the funk you’d expect from Opiou WITH LIVE INSTRUMENTS! Following sun:monx in The Grove was Saqi, who toured this past year with The Polish Ambassador, and played an equally funky set beneath the trees. After his set, the group headed back to camp to recoup and gear up for the night’s festivities. Once again, although we wish we could have seen everyone on the schedule for Friday, we were only able to catch a limited number of sets. Here are our favorites:
Stylust Beats, a longtime resident Shambhala DJ, and one of our favorite lesser-known artists on the lineup, laid down some sexy, bassy beats at the Village as the sun was beginning to set.
My Nu Leng of Black Butter Records was the first house music set of the weekend, and it did not disappoint. A little deep, a little dark, and a whole lot of amazing.
Moby was one of our most anticipated sets of the weekend. However, we were a little apprehensive about it after reading some negative reviews of his set at Hudson Project. We were not disappointed with his upbeat electro-house set in the slightest.
The number one highlight of Friday for me (Hannah), was seeing the legendary Skream at the Pagoda. I, for one, am very happy about the uber-talented producer’s recent venture into house music.
As per Shambhala tradition, the majority of the day on Saturday is meant to be spent lounging in the icey Kootenay River, just off of the Living Room Stage. And because one must keep with tradition, our camp headed down to wade just as the sun got a liiiiittle too hot.
One of our most highly anticipated acts of Shambhala was a two-hour set from Organic Mechanic, a lesser-known downtempo DJ we had the pleasure of discovering the year before. As we walked down the beach and staked ourself out some prime real estate in the shallow water of the river, we all heard the sounds of his set beginning. Next up at the Living Room was a FOUR hour set from Mr. Scruff, an English DJ who played a wide array of music ranging from soulful disco to reggeton. You can listen to his set in its beautiful entirety below…Which is AWESOME.
Mat The Alien was another highly anticipated set for me. He played in the Pagoda right before Bassnectar, and we enjoyed every minute of his glitchy, sometimes trappy, out-of-this-world bass music. I’ve been a Mat The Alien fan for a while, and I still remember his set at the Pagoda two years ago. This year’s was even better, and I predict big things from this Canadian DJ in the future.
Bassnectar’s set was a lesson in how to rage with three centimeters of space around you. The Pagoda just wasn’t meant to host the majority of the festival attendees. I felt very overwhelmed navigating the sea of people crowded into the Pagoda, and had to keep a close eye on my friends at all times to make sure I didn’t end up stranded. With that said, there’s no crowd I’d rather be packed in like sardines with than the Shambhala Farmily. Bassnectar opened his set with a little message to his fans;
“I’m not trying to blow anyones minds tonight, I just want to have some fun and play some tunes I like.”
Well, Lorin, you dirty dog, let me tell you… minds were blown. It took me a while to pick my brain up off the floor after two hours of, hands down, the best Bassnectar set I have ever heard. In my humble opinion, it was much, much better than his Paradiso 2014 set. It was a perfect mix of old school Bassnectar, and highlights from Noise vs. Beauty. Everywhere I looked, people were raging harder than I’ve ever seen before. I was actually slightly concerned for my safety at times, as I was dancing atop a swaying balcony.
While Hannah continued to headbang to some gnarly ‘Nectar bass, I decided to venture out with a couple of our friends to see what else was going on. We ended up wandering into the Grove, and boy am I happy we did. I absolutely love Emancipator, and, of all my times seeing the live band, this was by far my favorite. The atmosphere of The Grove was perfect for their set, and quite honestly, I felt like the entire crowd vibing and we were moments away from a group hug. As they played one of their most recently released songs, ‘Diamonds’, I was legitimately overcome by tears (I wish I was kidding…).
Though Paper Diamond’s set was ragy and enjoyable as always, it felt as though he was doing more dancing and partying on stage with friends than actually DJing live, which was somewhat disappointing. Though, because it was still a fun *prerecorded* set, we will give it a solid 3.5/5 stars. What So Not was another contender for best set of the weekend. Don’t believe me? Just take it from my friend, and fellow festival attendee, Jah’di, who described the set as…
“One of the best sets I’ve ever seen from an artist in my life, period. The mixing, glitching and transitioning from song to song was flawless, and the atmosphere was dripping wet with fun energy and heavy BASSSSS. Do yourself a gigantic service, and DO NOT miss a What So Not set the next time you have the opportunity to see them. I feel like that set literally increased the quality of my life, just for being able to witness it, as bizarre as that sounds.”
As any festival-goer knows, the final day can be the most difficult, especially when temperatures are hovering near 100°. In order to beat the heat (and our exhaustion) we set out for some food and of course, the river. When nighttime fell, however, the exhaustion of the day faded away instantly and everyone geared up for one last hurrah under the full moon. For us, Sunday was all about the house music. It was a house-lovers paradise, and it was very difficult for us to tear ourselves away from The Pagoda, which was bumping deep house beats all night long.
I know this may be a bold statement, but I (Maddy) think that Gorgon City’s set was my favorite of the weekend. We had heard wonderful things about their set at HARD Summer and they had set a pretty high bar for themselves. And they exceeded it. The set itself was dancey and emotional and they really did play some killer remixes. So, Gorgon City, you’re my #1.
Justin Martin is a longtime favorite of these two dirtybird fans, and we were really looking forward to his set after seeing him break it down at Q Nightclub in May. Justin Martin played a beautiful, ~15 minute-long remix of “Don’t Go” that sounded Cashmere Cat-influenced, and made me melt. Justin Martin has a fantastic talent of making tech house that is also melodic and chill-inducing.
Y’all already know that we have a major lady boner for this chick, so it’s no surprise she made it onto our list of faves. Her set was just as bad ass as we were expecting, with even a little bit more tech house and garage than we had previously heard from her at Foundation Nightclub. And, by judging on the looks on our friends faces during the set, I think they’d agree with us that Hannah Wants can throw down some sexy ass tunes.
As it started to get late, we were able to tear ourselves away from the Pagoda to catch some killer trap at the Fractal Forest. All I can say about their set is DAMN, that was unexpected! Although I felt like my legs were about to fall off at any moment, I could not stop booty-shaking. It was definitely some of the best trap I’ve seen live. Dimond Saints:
After discovering Dimond Saints at What The Festival earlier this summer, we were eager to see An-Ten-Nae throw down some sexy future beats once again. As tired as we were, we forced ourselves to stay awake, and it was the perfect way to wrap up Shambhala 2014. So, now that we have re-lived Shambhala 2014 together, try not to slip into a post-sham depression again. For those who have not yet attended, you’re lucky you don’t know the sorrow of returning “home” (pssshhh more like leaving home).
Just remember, friends… only 336 days until Shambhala 2015!
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