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Favorite ThisHow does Shambhala stay on top after 19 years? We think we know.

Published: August 15, 2016

Photos by: Jack Anderson (Jack Anderson Media)

Story by: Mitchell Treend

It was about 1:30 PM on Sunday afternoon. I was taking shelter at the press tent after a bolt of lightning exploded over top of my tent. They say the PK rigs at Shambhala are some of the loudest speakers around but let’s not forget that Mother Nature is packing the real punch when it comes to pumping out decibels 

An absolute angel brought me a cold yerba mate from the tap, talk about a godsend after 16 hours of straight dancing and 5 hours of sweaty meditative napping. That first sip was like an IV.

The rain was letting up, it was close to 3 and I was ready to hit downtown for the early set of shows but something was nagging at me. It was a question that stuck with me all weekend and before I could enjoy the rest of the day I had to take a moment to work it out.

Shambhala Music Festival is a unique place that offers these little spaces to sit and have a think, a complete rarity in today’s life.

“How does this festival stay successful after 19 years?”

Somewhere in between a chat with The Russ Liquid Test, an icy dip in the Salmo River and sharing a dance with 15,000 other human beings under a starlight summer sky, I realized that Shambhala has retained such intense support for so many years because it is fueled by the power of community.

This place dissolves the barrier between reality and imagination. From the expertly curated music lineup, to the wide array of interactive experiences and thought provoking presentations, Shambhala provides a fully immersive environment to live life through the lens of the creative spirit at work.

This festival is built on the hard work of local artists and the members of their communities who all combine to create a truly special feeling of symbiosis.

I could make a long list of sets in testament to the insanely contagious energy of the local community in support of their hometown heroes. A few however, stand out especially.


This was my second Shambhala and I knew that this was a “can’t miss” set to kick off the weekend. Replanted from Whistler, British Columbia this duo attracts quite the crowd. Even in the 95 degree heat, you best believe that everyone adorned their finest snow apparel in preparation for the get-down. 

The Funk Hunters

Another institution at the festival is heading to the Fractal Forest to catch The Funk Hunter’s bring the spirit of the funk alive amongst the trees. Based in Vancouver, BC their seamless understanding of the craft spreads across the dance floor in the form of a couple thousand booties bouncing unashamedly under a cascade of lasers and unassuming space characters. 

Pigeon Hole

Boasting releases for the sleeveless warrior Stylus Beats under Sleeveless Records and tastemaking German bass imprint Saturate Records, this duo have some serious flavor to offer along the airwaves. Hailing from Victoria, BC this is an act to notice.

These shows boasted crowds rivaling any other performance of the weekend. The energy exuded from the fans born at the core of the vibrancy of human connection is something inexpressibly magical. It is the energy that drives the success of this festival and supports its renewal each year.

I would be satisfied to leave it at that, aside from the fact that there are about 500 other incredibly exiting things about this festival that still must be highlighted. Let’s take it stage by stage.

The Pagoda

Highlights include the Pumpkin tribute set, my lord, what an emotional roller coaster. Justin Martin, the man is a class act and potentially a genius. Rezz, fierce and insatiable, she is up to some next level business. Finally, What So Not, returning to Shambhala a force to be reckoned with.

The Living Room

Highlights include The Librarian closely followed by DJ Laura Low, definition of mental innit? A 3-hour daytime set from Nightmares on Wax, I mean, need I say more? En Fuego. Bumping into An-ten-nae after his set and sharing a chat along the sandy pathways back into town. 

The Fractal Forest

Highlights include K+LAB! What a showman, keep your eyes on this one in the near future. The Funk Hunters doing what they do best. Most significantly the cast of legends gracing the LED drenched booth including, but not limited to, DJ Nu Mark, ?uestlove, Green Velvet, and Felix Da Housecat. The nostalgia was real folks. 

The Amphitheatre

Highlights include one of the most forward thinking and exciting lineups at the festival this year. Alix Perez + EPROM = Shades, VNDMG, WYLN, The Gaslamp Killer! Sporting a heavy hitting cast from Saturate Records including label boss BIOS and a heap of other intense international flavor, Stage manager S2 did everyone a real service this year and should be generously thanked a few times over. 

The Village

Highlights include the 4 AM set from Marvel Years, G Jones making his Village debut, Caspa & Rusko reminding us all why we fell in love with dubstep music all those years ago. This place gets wild, tread lightly. 

The Grove

Highlights include the stage that perfectly captures our spirit here at The Untz. Stage director Byron Whitlaw AKA Footprints and Funktion-One bossman Darrin AKA OCTABAN, have created an incredible addition to an already sterling festival. Clozee, Emancipator, the DEEP sounds of Truth and The Widdler, The Russ Liquid Test. The list goes on and on. The interactive art instillations, hammock webs and dreamy canopies were everything I could have asked for to hide away for a quiet moment of rest in between periods of intensive physical gyration.

It was a sincere pleasure to be apart of the community that creates Shambhala Music Festival every year. The fans, the artists and the crew are some of the most interesting, kind and special people I have had the pleasure of sharing a weekend with. To reiterate my wish at the Wishing Tree this year, “I hope everyone gets to experience a place like this once in their life” For music lovers, dancers, or those looking for a place to feel welcome, Shambhala is the place of legends. We can only imagine what might be in store next year for the 20th anniversary, but we can bet that it is going to be absolutely off the chain.

For even more info on the artists from Shambhala follow us here at The Untz for exclusive new music, and the first look at emerging artists from all across the globe. We believe the community is essential to a healthy and happy society and Shambhala is the perfect example of exactly how true this statement is. To experience it for yourself, stay tuned for news on tickets for the 20th year at Shambhala Music Festival and even more!

Tags: BreaksDeep HouseDowntempoDrum and BassDubstepElectronicaGlitchHip HopHouseLivetronicaTech HouseTechnoTrap