A colourful, crazy and slightly curious affair, Shambala is a haven for creativity; breaking the confines of generic festival attire, wonderfully bizarre and mismatched outfits are safely the norm. This year’s program of daytime activities reflected its guests’ inventive flair, as workshops, spoken word and theatre performances provided never-ending entertainment.
The worldly sounds of soul, hip-hop, folk and jazz were this year’s musical status quo. Despite my initial scepticism, Friday night headliners Sister Sledge proved they could still bring the party. Sifting through their back catalogue of endless R&B/disco hits, the iconic 70s trio pleased with synchronised dance moves, heavy funk-induced rhythms and numerous sing-along moments. The bold and boisterous sounds of the Hot 8 Brass Band were equally as commanding. All wielding instruments bigger than themselves, the New Orleans ensemble fused jazz, funk and hip-hop in effortless style. Covers such as Ghost Town and Basement Jaxx’s Bingo Bango invoked further excitement amongst an enthusiastic crowd.
Other musical highlights included Romare and Afriquoi. Mainly performing tracks from his 2015 LP Projections, Romare beautifully blended tribal drumbeats, heavy percussion and soft vocal samples. The Afrocentric electronic grooves of Afriquoi then followed. With songs like Pane-Madzimai a faster tempo was instilled, providing a livelier atmosphere in contrast with Romare’s mellow selections. With the routine decrease in volume at the 2am mark, the crowd’s slight disillusion only paid testament to Afriquoi’s crowd-pleasing expertise.
With its perfect balance of fun, vibrancy and eccentricity, it is no wonder that Shambala is so appealing to families with young children. There are so few festivals I can think where young people and families coexist in such an easy and carefree way. With the ever-growing number of festivals each year only set to increase, it’s refreshing that Shambala has maintained its authentic and welcoming feel.
Words: Arnaz Marker
Photography: Scott M Salt