Shabang: the Local Festival Putting San Luis Obispo on the Map

The most liberating part of the creative process is the opportunity for introspection.

For the 11th iteration of San Luis Obispo’s local festival, Shabang, their goal was to give that opportunity to hundreds of attendees with their new theme: “Find Yourself.”

Since its inception, Shabang has seen an unrivaled and exponential expansion. The event has transformed from being a secret show on top of Cuesta Ridge to a bi-annual gathering of the community’s most prominent local creatives. In recent iterations, Shabang has even been drawing in more well-known bands as headliners, including Dante Elephante, Sugar Candy Mountain, and this year’s Leven Kali.

It’s true: “one of the most dramatic changes in the concert landscape in the past 10 years: the spawning of hundreds of new music festivals worldwide” (Keene). Even among the clutter, Shabang still manages to find its niche in the pocket of San Luis Obipso’s Laguna Lake Park.

I had the opportunity to talk to the marketing director of Shabang, Greg Golf, to talk about this year’s event, how the festival is changing, and what they have planned for the future.

8Track: It goes without saying that Shabang has come a long way since starting atop Cuesta Ridge. What has played the biggest part in expanding Shabang into what it is today?

Greg: We’d love to say it’s us, but it’s not. It’s the people we collaborate with to create the incredible experience Shabang is today. Everybody has their own passions, and we want to inspire others to not be afraid to go after them.

8: Shabang has been on top of community collaboration. From booking local artists, vendors, and booths to collaborating with SubSessions and Respect the Funk to make the silent disco happen. How important is community involvement with Shabang?

G: Community involvement is Shabang. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without our various partners, the local music scene, several different organizations and most importantly, the fans.

8: Shabang is one of the only events in SLO that brings creative people together at that scale with consistency. Do you feel that Shabang has an important role in the community as a platform for expression?

G: We hope so! More than anything, that is what we attempt to accomplish. There is so much talent here! We are in between the two biggest music scenes on the West Coast.

8: I heard that the theme for this year was “Find Yourself.” In what ways do you feel like Shabang allows for its attendees to find themselves?

G: It gives people the opportunity to express themselves in a way that you couldn’t at class or at work. We strive to be in an environment with friendly people, music, art and like-minded people.

8: Leven Kali briefly mentioned during his set that he was the first R&B artist to appear at Shabang. How important do you think having the diversity in the lineup is? Is this something that you think can draw in an even larger audience for the festival?

G: Being able to bring out artists from different genres helps us to provide as many people as possible with the best experience.

8: What keeps the people coming back bi-annually? How has Shabang retained its audience and created a following?

G: People keep coming back because of the unique atmosphere that has been created by the fans themselves. One that is welcoming to all and encompasses different ideas, music genres, and overall love for the people.

8: With the expansion that you guys are experiencing, are you looking to make Shabang into a festival that people travel from across California (or farther) to attend?

G: Yes, the idea is to highlight the greatest parts of SLO and the Central Coast and eventually California in order to provide everyone with one Shabang’n experience!

8: What is your favorite part of Shabang?

G: Seeing such a diverse collection of people and artists enjoying themselves.

8: What would be your dream lineup for Shabang?

G: You’ll find out soon enough!

8: What should people look forward to for the next Shabang this Spring?

G: We’re sending it… harder than anyone has seen before! Stay tuned.

Take a look at some of the pictures from this year’s Shabang below:

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This interview was published, in part, at KCPR.org. You can check it out here, where it is accompanied by images taken by the fantastic Jo Anna Edmison.

Works Cited: KEENE D. The Future of Music Festivals: Disparate Trends Power Growth of the Festival Phenomenon. Sound & Video Contractor. 2017;35(6):72-75. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.calpoly.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=123727696&site=ehost-live. Accessed October 27, 2018.

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