Two of the Gauntlet’s own are on the road to Shambhala. We’ve been annoying our colleagues all week with filthy drops whimpering from blown speakers, and it’s been a few years since either of us have been to the festival that goes from August 8–11.
Four days of music. Four days of inevitable schedule clashes. Moby plays at the same time as Griz. Datsik plays at the same time as A Tribe Called Red. You’ll have to make the tough choices, and we at the Gauntlet have no illusions about that.
We, Riley Hill and Chris Adams selected one must-see artist each night. You’ll get lost in the schedule. Let our choices be your beacon.
Friday, August 8
Riley’s Pick: Max Ulis
3:00 a.m. @ The Living Room
Max Ulis is the Vancouver dance music OG. Ulis plays Shambhala every year, but his sets seem to go unnoticed. Here’s the rundown. He plays house and techno music. He’s part of the Lighta! Sound crew, which hosts amazing parties in British Columbia and has some ties to Modern Math Records here in Calgary. And he has been releasing amazing forward-thinking dance tracks since I was in junior high trying to kiss girls for the first time.
Skip the headliners and give the BC boys a chance Friday night.
Chris’ Pick: Skream
9:30 p.m. @The Pagoda
Dubstep’s seen a lot of its OGs jump ship as the sound got saturated by popularity over the years. By 2013, this guy knew dubstep’s ball had dropped. Is it dead? Skream doesn’t think so, but the sound he helped create 10 years ago doesn’t get the draw it used to. Brostep jumped in with both feet around 2010 and replaced meditative low-end with contorted synth-robotics. It sucked.
Alas, Skream started playing disco and house in his sets, and now he’s one of Ibiza’s mainstays, playing alongside tech-house champion Seth Troxler and Dirtybird’s Eats Everything.
Skream will run the disco/house cube on you at the Pagoda Friday night. Expect big cuts from the likes of Maceo Plex, Dusky and probably Prince. Yes, you’ll want Midnight Request Line to get mashed up with Rutten. But it won’t happen. Don’t expect dubstep, and don’t request it. He’ll throw a CDJ at you.
Saturday, August 9
Riley’s Pick: Truth
1:00 a.m. @ The Living Room
Before Skrillex, Borgore and Rusko, dubstep wasn’t a roller coaster of drops, power tool sounds and trance breaks. The sound was dark and reflective. DJ sets rolled by with a stoned groove. Heavy sub-bass made listening a physical experience, especially when aided by a massive sound system.
Truth is a New Zealand-born duo based in San Francisco that has been around since the early days of the genre. They have released music on tastemaker labels like Deep Medi Musik, Tempa and the now defunct Disfigured Dubz. Expect an energetic yet meditative show for their Saturday night set on the beach.
Chris’ Pick: Self-Evident
10:00 p.m. @ The Living Room
Ben Ulis, a founding member of Vancouver’s esteemed Lighta! Sound crew, has been performing at Shambhala for years. He’s a staple on the West Coast, and his new album HISS is getting played by some of dubstep and grime’s biggest names (think Deep Medi signee Gantz).
He’s the brother of the other Ulis, Max, who was recommended up top. Lighta! has brought some of electronic music’s best to Vancouver and Victoria, championing dubstep in Canada before anyone else.
Their sound caught on quickly out west, and there’s a reason why they’ve been at it for so long. As his name suggests, Ben’s skill is self-evident. Check him out.
Sunday, August 10
Riley’s Pick: A Tribe Called Red
1:30 a.m. @ The Amphitheatre
A Tribe Called Red has managed to combine Aboriginal pow-wow music, a wide range of EDM sub-genres and activism into something that’s accessible and fun. The Ottawa-based trio has broken out of the EDM bubble with write-ups in news sources your dad still pays attention to like CBC and the National Post. And, again, they’re fun! Go watch one of their two sets, if only to see if the hype is warranted.
Chris’ Pick: Mark Farina’s Extended Mushroom Jazz Set/Commodo
Mark Farina: 6:00 p.m. @ The Living Room
Commodo: 3:00 a.m. (Monday morning) @ The Amphitheatre
I’m going to day-trip on the beach and listen to three hours of Farina’s cool jazz. I’ll be the guy playing the air-sax with no pants on. I’ll need some air-percussion and an air-flute for accompaniment. If you know how to play either of these instruments, look for the guy standing in six inches of water wearing water-wings and a life-preserver pretending he’s John Coltrane.
When 3:00 a.m. hits and the psychedelics have done their due, I’m heading to the Amphitheatre for some deep, deep dubstep. Commodo is playing. He’s signed to Mala’s Deep Medi imprint, and he’s one of dubstep’s current crop of young producers harkening back to the original sound. Eyes down, hearts full , can’t lose.