Sham­bhala: the electro festival that never sleeps


Shambhala is arguably Canada’s best-kept party secret.

Nestled in the heart of the Kootenay mountains, the electronica festival brings together some of the world’s most innovative bands and DJs for five days of legendary audio/visual entertainment. Heart-stopping, brain-fracturing beats were broken down in dizzying excess as 10,000 wandering souls engaged in enough sleepless, drug-induced mayhem to make Keith Richards blush.

While Lollapalooza probably wrapped up around sundown, the Shambhala’s lineup literally thrived until sunrise and beyond. Like a trooper, buzzworthy New York DJ Treasure Fingers played at six in the morning, deep in the venue’s Fractal Forest. (Yes, that is actually the name of one stage).

From dubstep to psytrance to glitch hop, there was no corner of the electro market left untouched. Enormous stacks of amplifiers ensured rib cages were reverberating from every angle, while light shows rivaled the visual effects of any acid trip.

Names like Bassnectar, the Beatnuts, Adham Shaikh, Atomic Hooligan and Spor attracted armies of sweaty dance-a-trons while Sub Swara, Delhi 2 Dublin, Benga and You Say Party! We Say Die! all made impressive first appearances.

All this took place on a remote cattle farm on the outskirts of Nelson British Columbia, which happens to be surrounded on all sides by mountains, rainforest and crystal-clear water. Needless to say, this was not a weekend anyone will soon forget.

Published August 2009. Photos by Sarah Berman.

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