Published Aug 10, 2011The reputation of Shambhala precedes itself, and all legends are true. There is nothing else like it, not of this magnitude. Free from the shackles of corporate sponsorship, the family-run festival maintains a smooth flow of over 12,000 beautiful people between six stages and infinite happenings on an otherwise functioning farm. Artists and crew camp alongside cows and creatures of the nightlife, there to perform rituals, hug strangers, seek enlightenment, express themselves, hold nothing back and worship music, with any moment here being able to change your life forever.
The party got going on Friday at the Rock Pit thanks to the gorgeous Lyssa. The Mexico-via-Victoria DJ's sexy, saucy style of Chicago come Latin house made smiles form and hips wiggle in the blazing afternoon sun. But Friday was highlighted by Siriusmo droppin' science at the Pagoda. The Berlin producer (born Moritz Friedrich) pushed his limits with this elusive set, making difficult, abrupt mixes between myriad formations of bass covered with a layer of tasty cheese that kept people on their toes and feet, sort of like the quirky French mania of SebastiAn.
East Van Digital bigwig Joseph Martin's flawlessly mixed, incessantly funky 8 a.m. disco set capped off a great Friday night for some, and started others' days on a note so upbeat that no one had to buy any coffee.
Up from the Australian outback, aboriginal trio Oka played two killer sets during the fest: a comparatively subdued set in the Labyrinth on Friday afternoon and a raucous Rock Pit set on Saturday night. With the super talented Charles Wall on the kit alongside didgeridoo and slide guitar, heaving masses sweated and flailed in the Pit as the band projected good vibes and social awareness through their electronically altered indigenous and reggae sounds.
Saturday at the Pit also saw Basketball. The Vancouver four-piece's unique brand of trance-inducing, world-tinged electronic rock hit the sweet spot between absurdity, excess, love and awareness, with lead singer Tome Jozic taking every opportunity to say, "We are your friends, Basketball," as the band came off like Monotonix meets the Rapture.
Meanwhile, the legendary Ed Rush & Optical hammered a Village stage that begged for a relief from a little too much dubstep with a set of nasty sci-fi drum and bass, expertly teased out to save the masses from otherwise perpetual, uncontrollable writhing.
Sunday was all about Spoonbill's set at the Living Room. Looking something like Frankie Wilde dressed as Beetlejuice, Jim Moynihan left a trail of blown minds down the beach with his seamless MPD-tweaked Ableton mix, momentarily aided by a three-headed flamingo. His astonishing glitch funk stands out as one of the most unique sounds in the worldwide scene, and he's a treat to see in the flesh.
One of the most anticipated sets of the festival, Dub FX, lived up to the hype at the Village on Sunday. Honing his skills as a busker, Benjamin Stanford's stunning style of beatboxing and loop-tweaking connected with the capacity crowd, using the human voice to create grimy electronic sounds, skittering and warping beneath the assisting rhymes of his fiancé Flower Fairy and, in a moment of inspiration, the fanciful Funginears.
Kootenay man Rich E Rich closed down his Fractal Forest stage, and ultimately the festival, with an epic four-hour set that basically went everywhere, did everything and involved everyone. Though it made the survivors stay up until 10 a.m., he kept the mood fun and funky throughout, ending Shambhala 2011 with a bang, not a whimper.