What to Expect From Shabang Music Festival

This is the year I decided I will finally experience festival season! Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a music festival in person. However, I’ve decided that it’s finally time and Shabang should be the one I try out first. I want to explore the festival scene as a way to discover new music, meet new people, and spend time with my friends. I’ve spent too many years scrolling Instagram filled with fomo! Photos and videos from festivals just won’t do anymore, it’s time for the real thing.

As a beginner festival goer, I was drawn to Shabang because of the relatively cheap prices and amazing headliners. It feels like a perfect intro to the scene for newbies like me, and a great time for seasoned veterans alike. The festival is for all ages, so don’t worry if you’re not 21 like me. Twice before this, I couldn’t go to raves with my friends because they were 21 and up. I’m excited that at Shabang I’ll finally be able to be included! That being said, let’s talk about what to expect out of this year’s festival!


Shabang came about in 2014, created by a few friends who wanted to throw a concert in the scenic mountains of San Luis Obispo. Ironically, the creators initially called it ‘The Last Shabang’ and had a measly attendance of 20 people. But the friend group kept pushing on and the music hasn’t stopped since then. Since SLO is not a big city like San Francisco or Los Angeles, some of you may be unfamiliar with this particular festival. What differentiates it from other music festivals is that they feature local bands, artisans, and vendors, creating a unique representation of the SLO lifestyle. This is what I love about Shabang; people who have never been to SLO can discover the local scene of surfers, people who crochet, and thrifters who sell second-hand clothing.

“They just started figuring out that there were so many more people that were interested in creating a music festival that bases itself around the culture of the Central Coast, and bringing super cool music and awesome experiences to the people of San Luis Obispo and the general California public,” public relations specialist for Shabang Nikki Morgan said in a Mustang News article from the previous year.


If you live in NorCal or SoCal, this festival is right between the two, so no 7+ hour drives are needed! As someone who has driven from SF to LA, this 3-hour drive from the Bay Area to SLO is a breeze. When figuring out where to stay, there are several hotels or Airbnb options if you’re not big into camping. However, I would highly advocate the camping option because of the beautiful natural scenery in SLO. 

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood and considered myself more of a city girl, but being at Cal Poly for three years has changed my perspective. Several hikes in the surrounding area have amazing views and are relatively easy for beginners. We have a thing called the Tri Tip Challenge where you hike Madonna mountain, Bishops Peak, and the Cal Poly ‘P’ in one day. That said, various public or private camping options are available near Shabang’s venue. If hiking isn’t your thing, there are several beaches in the area if you want to get your tan on before the late afternoon start on Friday. Attendees cannot camp at the venue this year, but that may change in years to come.


The festival will take place at the Dairy Creek Golf Course just off Cabrillo Highway. There will be no golfing, but they have yoga if you need a break from the music. As someone who has used the driving range to practice my swing, it can be a bit hilly, so be sure to bring comfortable shoes. It shouldn’t be too dusty because of the grassy courses, but a bandana may still pair well with whatever outfit you decide to wear.


Shabang is officially a month away, May 5th-6th, 2023. I ordered my outfit this week to ensure it arrived on time with extra leeway for returns. Friday will run from 3pm-10pm, while Saturday goes from 12pm- 10pm. So much is happening during May, but try to keep these two days open for Shabang! I promise it will be worth it.


I am stoked about this lineup featuring incredible headliners. There will be four stages at the venue: Laguna Lake Stage, Funk Safari Stage, Cuesta Ridge Stage, and Hush House Silent Disco. The main stage will house headliners such as Hippo Campus and Men I Trust. I got into Hippo Campus my first year of college and loved their indie/alternative music. Recently, I wrote an article about their newer song, “Yippe Ki Yay” which is out now on all streaming platforms. Most artists have a laid-back vibe to their music which fits the SLO culture of beach-goers. However, there are much more genres ranging from surf rock, deep house, disco, and folk to cater to everyone.

I’m highlighting two other artists: Vundabar and Lunar Vacation who will also be on the Laguna Lake Stage. Vundabar is known for “Alien Blues,” with 316 million streams on Spotify. It might not be known by name, but a snippet of the song grew popular on Tik Tok. On the other hand, I have a core memory of my friend playing “Unlucky” by Lunar Vacation in the car on our way to Mcdonald’s. I immediately added it to my ‘Espresso Depresso’ playlist because of one line: “You’re in love, and I’m unlucky.”


If you want to check it out, tickets are on sale now! You can buy them on Shabang’s website or by attending the farmer’s market in SLO every Thursday. They have a booth set up and can answer any questions about the festival that I didn’t answer. But I’d recommend getting them sooner rather than later, as prices go up closer to the date. I hope to see you there!

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