At 1:47 PM on October 7th, a hop on my bike up Santa Rosa street, a cruise under the Madonna overpass, and a quick jaunt down the bike path adjacent to the freeway led my sweaty self to the entrance of Laguna Lake park.
With music already blaring in the Saturday afternoon heat, I took my camera and pen in hand into the venue, ready for the experience ahead.
Upon entrance, any festival goer can sense the intimacy of the event. You might recognize a food vendor from class, a ticket salesperson from around town, or even know the musician jamming on stage. The organizers of the event do an unbelievable job of establishing an environment that enables curiosity and connection.
Shabang is reminiscent of that youthful Christmas morning euphoria; this event is worth finishing any homework early in order to attend. Amidst stressors of daily life, Shabang is an enormously comforting and invigorating hug, reminding its festival goers to enjoy the present, as it’s brimming with live music, art, fresh food, and SLO’s funky community.
I sat on the grass as the Super Trio rocked out, took pictures long enough to realize my camera had not been charging. I decided to fully immerse myself without hiding behind the lens, and jumped in.
Walking around, you’ll find that humans are at the heart of this festival. A student named Nate is painting abstract scenery, and another named Noah is selling paintings and hand-crafted glass-blown creations made by local students and community members.
In the next tent over, CP Ski Club provides a space to chat and make friendship bracelets, promoting conversation and creation. Next door, Cami Gonzalez’ (KCPR DJ and content editor) curated clothing and jewelry line attracts the eye with a bursts of bright colors and design. Shabang has created a space for the worries of college life to dissipate, even if just for a few hours, inviting people to mingle and engage in the attractions.
As time ticked on, blankets unraveled on the grass, ciders were popped in the sunshine, and the eclectic crowd wandered through the front gates. Glitter-covered dancers and crowd surfing hooligans dominated the dance floor. Shabang lives and breathes as a being, evolving with the crowd and the times. The festival continues to retain the integrity of its’ previous year’s jovial, creative, and carefree atmosphere, as well as the enduring virtue (and sweat) of the mosh pit.
The creators of Shabang put action to their idea a few years ago when they were just a small group of college sophomores in hopes of establishing an environment for attendees to have a good time. This festival’s exponential growth is proof of their continual hard work, striving to reach broader circles of young and old, and to support fledgling ideas, businesses and expression of all kinds.
The power of Shabang is palpable; the musicians alone elicit ecstatic energy from the crowd, never ceasing to fling sweat and entertain, even if the sound blows out. This year’s killer lineup rattled my ears from 2pm to 9pm. The event opened with the Super Trio rocking out with a cover of “Purple Haze” and an ode to Tom Petty, to subsequent covers of Grateful Dead jams, to crazy guitar and flute solos, and finished with a ghost stage piece and requested “boo’s” from the audience of Depressed Specter.
Shabang is a conglomeration of creatives investing in the talent of each other, enabling the sharing of heart and skill. Photographers, designers, musicians, yogis, hula-hoopers, painters, glass-blowers, creatives in the kitchen, brewers, slack-liners, clothing crafters, jewelry designers, and dancers of SLO unite as one at this event.
With amicable festival-goers and vendors, anyone is sure to have a pleasant and enlightening afternoon of feeding the soul with the warmth of community, the intensity of music, and harmony in being alive. Pausing amidst the shuffle of it all, the combination of community and unity flavors this sweet atmosphere.
Shabang is not just a party, it is an experience.
Erin Regan is a Cal Poly Psychology junior and KCPR’s air staff instructor, gracing the FM airwaves as DJ Burnt Toast from 2-4 PM on Tuesdays. She attended this edition of Shabang, took the pictures, and wrote the article. Ivy Kolb is a Cal Poly graphic communications junior and KCPR staff member. She created the artwork.