The best thing about the legendary Shambhala Music Festival – hidden away in the Kootenay mountains, in Salmo, BC – also happens to be the worst thing about the legendary Shambhala Music Festival: There is an overstuffed cornucopia of a lineup that is completely impossible for one human person to consume. With six stages thumping bass near-endlessly , Shambhala has something for everyone in amongst the chaos. Whatever your groove is, there's something on the Farm to satisfy your bass-lust. Rather than attempt to run down the near-endless list of everything Rags Music is hoping to check out, or to randomly select things with little to no regard for scheduling, I'm going to recommend an artist (or two) per stage with the “Rags Music Home-run Guarantee,” spaced out throughout the four days (Hint: Get there for early entry on Thursday. It's worth it). This being a milestone year 20 for the Festival, I'm going to try to split the list between new faces and what could appropriately be called Shambhala Legends. I promise, if you catch even a couple of these things, your ears will be very happy.
THE AMP - MAT THE ALIEN b2b The LIBRARIAN - Thursday @ 12-1:30pm
Like I said previously, I'm getting into Shambhala Legends mode this year and this begins with planning my Day 1 festivities around a few festival cornerstones. Opening the AMP with Mat the Alien & The Librarian?! Yes, please! Mat the Alien is a DJ I'm happy to see any time I can. The veteran bass master is as versatile as anyone in the galaxy, able to shift moods and genres on a dime, and a fantastic scratcher to boot! Big, big legends vibes on this. The Librarian is someone I've been wanting to see properly for a long time. Her dark, spacey bass vibes call to me. Now is the time. I caught a very tiny portion of her set at Shambhala last year and everyone I've talked to who just returned from Bass Coast (Her home bass) said hers was the set of the weekend. I blew my chance to see them when they toured together for their Mutiny tour, but honestly, would it have been as good as seeing them team up to wreck the AMP at Shambs? Nah. This'll be better.
FRACTAL FOREST – MARTEN HØRGER – Sunday @ 1:30-2:30am
Finally! I get to see Marty fuckin' Horgs, the German bass phenom in his proper environment – the middle of an old tree, armed with a bananas powerful PK sound rig. Marten Hørger has been one of my go-tos any time I need a little extra OOMPH! ZORP! BLAMO! in my breaks diet. His mixes and tracks come at your ears like a crazed monkey with a knife, but the monkey is wearing a little hat, so while it's pretty dangerous, it's also super fun! A veteran of the always reliable PUNKS label, Hørger, the talent behind of some of my absolute favourite tracks like “Blood” and “Deeper Down,” I can, in the words of the immortal Vince McMahon, “GUARAN-DAM-TEE” Horger will lay down the perfect blast of hard breaks energy to fuel through the last few hours of your Sunday night. (And he's a past answerer of the 5 Questions! Extra points!) Also, Hørger also just recently got into the world of drum 'n' bass – a world I still don't understand – with an uplifting gem of a track that hit me right away!
THE GROVE – POLISH AMBASSADOR – Saturday @ 11:30pm-1am
Okay, so this one is huge. For the past two years the Polish Ambassador has been on my official Shambhala wishlist. (See here and here.) The good homie is the creator of some of the finest dance music on planet Earth. He's the founder of Jumpsuit Records, a label committed not to genres, but to the quality music. He dedicates time to taking sincere action to live in harmony with the planet, while inspiring and helping educate his fans to do the same. Never preachy, but always aware, the Polish Ambassador has, for me, come to represent a lot of what I'd like more musicians, nay people, to strive to. His Shambhala debut promises to be an overture of joy. In the warm, earthy embrace of the Grove, I'm fairly certain the Polish Ambassador's set will remind us of all the best parts of being human – you know, all the grooviest, danciest parts.
PAGODA – EPHWURD – Friday, 2:30-4am
I don't really know how Ephwurd and their juicy, heavy-as-fuck housey bass music fell into my lap, but however I found it, I'm glad I did. Honestly, my familiarity with both Datsik and Bais Haus is minimal at best, but together these two are making hella fun, furiously thumpy and frantically energetic music. As I was writing about this, sitting in a Victoria dab bar, a young gentleman – about to attend his first Shambhala – told me about seeing Ephwurd here in Victoria back in May and being completely caught off guard, blown away by the duo's bass antics. “I had no idea who they were but they put on one of the most fun shows I've ever seen. It was incredible.” That's a direct quote. I guess I'm definitely going to check out Ephwurd on the newly reconstructed Pagoda. You probably should too.
VILLAGE – HAYWYRE – Sunday @ 9-10pm
Last year I almost lost Shambhala because last year I missed Haywyre. I don't know why, there's no excuse and I apologize to the gods of music. But not really, because I don't actually believe in gods of any kind. Thankfully those same gods I don't believe have smiled upon me because Haywyre returns to the Village! Brother is out in these streets making some of the most legitimately beautiful and engaging bass music around. His passion for music is evident in everything he does, including interacting with fans and listeners on social media, which may seem like a silly thing, but in a changing media landscape is an incredibly important and powerful tool.
LIVING ROOM – MEOWMIX feat. SWEETS Thursday @ 5:30-6:30pm
Last year I was having a rough time on Sunday night. Exhausted, separated from my friends and overwhelmed by throbbing bass at five of six stages, I wondered down to the Living Room, searching for something, anything, to sooth my weary soul and I fell into the warm glowing warming glow of Meowmix. Their swampy Kootenay house vibes rested my insides but compelled my outer shell to move in the most wonderful, flowing of ways. This group of powerful Djs (Lion-S, Emma Star, MorningGlory, Ginger and Sweets) definitely fall into that Shambhala Legends category, their rare sets becoming the stuff of aural legend as they take audiences on unpredictable sonic journeys, shifting between their wildly different but complimentary styles. As phenomenal as last year was, I imagine that getting to see them work their magic on Day 1 as opposed to Day 4, when I'm still full of energy, will be even better. A perfect way to get year 20 kicked off and running.
THE GROVE – BOUSADA – Saturday @ 5:30-6:30pm
I'm always excited to introduce the homie Bousada to new audiences because this cat really deserves it. In a world where more and more artists are incorporating live production and looping into sets, few people are doing it as well as Bousada. His energy is infectious, his beats are ultra-smooth and his emotive voice is an incredible vehicle for his poetic, thoughtful, conscious lyrics. He's certainly not coming at audiences with full-force power as much as well-crafted, finely tuned precision, but his shows routinely turn into sweaty, shirts-off dance parties, crowds swaying and grooving around him as he pours himself through the soundsystem. If you haven't seen or heard of Bousada, you would be best to rectify that this Shambhala. (Another veteran of the 5 Questions! Points!)
FRACTAL FOREST – K+LAB – Friday @ 8-9pm
The Intergalatic Funk Champion once again take control of the mothership that is Fractal Forest, as he is set to take us on a goddamned journey through the heaviest parts of known Funkiverse. K+Lab has been a pretty consistent part of the listening diet for a couple of years now but I didn't get the joy of taking in a proper full set from the New Zealander until Tall Tree Music Festival this past June where he obliterated a packed main stage. I lost count of the number of times the crowd gasped/awed as he rocked our faces off. If you like your funk with extra bottom-end frequencies for your earholes, get over to Fractal and get blasted into your Friday night with K+Lab.