After years of hearing from lots of people I love and respect that Shambala is the ‘perfect festival’ we spent this August bank holiday having our own Adventures in Utopia.
Taking the shuttle bus down to the site was encouraging as it seemed to be full of interesting lovely people, which is always a good sign. As we approached I got my first burst of full on excitement. Although I had been vaguely looking forward to this, I hadn’t gotten properly excited until we were actually walking in. You can really see the efforts that the organisers have put in just walking up, it really feels like a lot of love, thought and attention have gone into it.
First impressions were of glorious sunshine, people meandering about all looking genuinely pleased to see everyone and anyone and lots of glitter and dressing up. You walk through pools of live music, bass and engaging conversations. It feels like as soon as you get on site everyone’s barriers just drop and we can all revert back to being the friendly lovely creatures we all should be.
I managed to kill my phone battery before we arrived (HOW??) so used a disposable camera. My logic being that if/when I lost it it wouldn’t be as painful or expensive as losing my DSLR.
The next day was glorious and we really explored the site. We found a tent filled with board games and couches, so Matt of course sat down to play chess. For 3 hours. There is a real nice family feel to the festival with lots of stuff for kids to do. I think the fact that there are so many kids and families means people are on better behavior. Nothing like a child’s youthful glow to make you pause before racking up a line.
We also stumbled across the People’s Front Room and saw a wicked sick band called Toyface – Completely captivating and strangely comforting for content that at points managed to upset me. So yeah, that was delightfully confusing.
Eska also really impressed and we grabbed an EP. Clever and brilliantly put together, these guys were amazing.
Night time is always a little more blurry but at some point we definitely ended up at the top of a tree in the woods with Walk. We met a lovely girl who looked like she had collapsed on the floor, it turned out she was just having a very intense trip. We stayed with her and found her friends. Having someone insist that they can see your love dancing between your eyes is always enjoyable to be near, even if they do think that we’re currently in Kyoto. Karma decided to full on reward us and we ended up getting free whiskies at the bar, seeing some amazing bands we wouldn’t have, bumping into a friend from Matt’s studio who was DJing and generally having an incredible night.
Sunday was a bit of a struggle, a highlight definitely included being in the Social Club with some friends listening to Captain Hotknives. Classic one liners and getting group of children screaming ‘I hate babies!’ – hilarious and warming. The Social Club also were responsible for the cutest thing I saw over the weekend which was a line of kids learning to beat box. We then rounded the whole thing off with some good old Honeyfeet. I have already expressed my love for them here so will keep my gushing to a minimum but it was a special way to end the whole thing.
Everyone was on a really similar wavelength and I felt so free and accepted there. To the point where sometimes I’m on the tube now in London genuinely sad that life cannot be Shambala everyday. What I took from it though is that it is possible to create and build Utopia ourselves, everyday. Especially when we collectivize and treat each other with love and kindness. Usually after a festival I’m completely wiped out but after I got home I actually felt invigorated and full of positivity. I don’t know about ‘perfect’ festival, but better would be difficult.