Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Going La La at Shambala

Usually when I go to festivals, it's all about the music – discovering new bands, hero-worshipping favourite ones and generally jumping up and down in a field (or tent) for three or four days. Of course many of the more interesting festies these days also have other stuff on offer – theatre, comedy, cabaret, craft activities and more - but to me the music is always at the heart of the festival experience. So it was a bit of a shock to the system to go to Shambala, where the music turned out to be more of an afterthought. Unless you are big into smugadelic funk and uber-jolly world music, you would probably feel the same.

Apart from the odd burst of more moody and interesting bands - Kid iD, My Panda Shall Fly, The Legend of the 7 Black Tentacles - variations on a funky theme was pretty much the order of the day. I can handle this kind of music in small doses, maybe even enjoy it for a night, but four days solid is a bit much. Luckily there were plenty of other diversions on offer, not least the hoardes of like-minded, friendly people. After music, people-watching and photography are two of my favourite pursuits, and there was plenty of opportunity for both at Shambala. Once I'd got over the lack of musical inspiration, I threw myself into the spirit of the occasion wholeheartedly, working the colourful fields and woods of Kelmarsh estate with camera in hand and mind firmly open.

The things I remember most from the weekend were the random encounters and conversations, though I am sure there are plenty of those I have also forgotten. As is so often the way, the best party action was all going down in the tiniest tent in the far corner of a field, where those who dared to venture found kindred spirits and music to lift the soul. Saturday's fancy dress parade provided a feast for the eyes, with highlights including the complete cast of Sesame Street, a Tetris troop and a pack of Crayola crayons. I'm sad to say that my own costume efforts were rather more understated, but thankfully more than made up for by my illustrious friends' various ensembles – which you can see in glorious technicolour above.

After dancing and ranting the night away on Friday and Saturday, Sunday brought more sedate activities in the form of a chin theatre, an animatronic horse display and some excellent cabaret, including a pole-tango-acrobatics routine (it has to be seen to be believed) that rounded off my weekend beautifully in a flourish of theatrical splendour. And in the absence of interesting music, theatrical splendour is the next best thing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the name check. Shambala was a blast. The Hypnotic Brass Band and The Destroyers were my personal highlights.

    - Vex from The Legend of the 7 Black Tentacles


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