Shabang Music Festival 2023: Official Review

Last Friday, May 5th, I woke up to the bright sunlight emanating from my window. I checked my phone and realized it was 10:30 am, it’s gonna be a big day. You’re probably thinking my excitement is for Cinco de Mayo, but I had a different celebration planned. I was getting prepared for my first music festival ever!

To get in the zone, I took a shower while listening to Men I Trust, the headliner for Shabang Day 1. I kept the tunes going as I did my makeup on the floor, I went for a graphic eyeliner look. Festivals are the place to try out fun hair and make up, so I attempted bubble braids but scratched that plan. I looked at my watch and realized it was noon. It was a surprisingly calm morning, so whatever excited nerves I thought would be present had to wait. Follow along as I take you through my experience at the Shabang Music Festival!


Because it was a Friday, a school day for some, the festivities didn’t begin until 3 p.m. At that time, I was panicking, trying to figure out a new outfit to keep me warm. I was disappointed that due to weather, I couldn’t wear my matching flower power top and skirt set. So I opted for black high-waisted cargo pants and a long-sleeve top with a peek-a-boo shoulder. Pockets were my absolute friend that day. After that slight delay, my friend and I hopped in my car. Since I am not of legal age and cannot drink, I used a parking pass which gave me optimal parking across the street from the venue. However, it was time for the walk of our lives since the entrance was still a half mile away.


Once we got into the venue, I browsed the local vendors Shabang had to offer. This festival is big on supporting local artists from San Luis Obispo, the heart of this event is on highlighting the Central Coast and the SLO experience. This vibe was clearly communicated through each booth in their own way. Some sold hand-painted tote bags, vibrant sunglasses, and crocheted clothing. Others had festival essentials like fanny packs and earplugs. One seller told his buyer that the clothing item fits her like a condom and got a good laugh out of her.

After going through most clothing stands, I went to the food vendors for a snack. Silly Willy Waffles stood out most because their selling point was dick-shaped waffles. While in line, I heard many jokes because of it. While putting on a chocolate glaze, one girl noted it was getting “creamed up.” Their chocolate-covered waffle, known as the “I’m in Love With the Cocoa,” was delicious. While waiting, I went to our local boba stand called Sequel and got their mango milk tea. You know what they say, hydrate or die-drate!


While at the food stands, it was clear that one stage was going off and had loud, bass-heavy music. I couldn’t help but follow the music to the Funk Safari, the EDM stage. I jogged over with my waffle and danced to the killer beat drops. Be sure to bring earplugs for this stage, as you can feel the bass reverberate through your body. After a while, the music got repetitive, so my friend and I went to the main stage to listen to Vundabar. The one song I knew was “Alien Blues” which was a low-key headbanger. I was surprised that people were moshing, but watching it was fun. My friend and I held onto each other so we didn’t get thrown into the moshpit.

Before things got too chaotic, my friend and I grooved over to the silent disco. The entrance, shaped like a house, represented the many backyard shows around SLO. We grabbed our headphones and started dancing to the beat. I was surprised that the two channels you could alternate from were at the same BPM as the other. It was more chill here because of the smaller crowd, but the DJs went hard. We probably looked crazy to people who didn’t have headphones on, but it was a fun experience and one of the best parts of Day 1.

People brought light-up hula hoops and barbells to the dance floor as the sun went down. As the temperature dropped, I was thankful for my last minute outfit change to wear pants. Being in a crowd helped with warmth because of body heat and other people acting as wind blockers. It’s no surprise that the headliner was my standout performance of the night. Men I Trust dazzled us with a live rendition of their infamous song, “Show Me How.” It was the perfect, calm end to a night full of festivities.


The exhaustion from a full day at a festival had fully sunk in, so it was a struggle to get up. Today’s lineup started at noon, which meant no sleeping in. I opted for a black pleated skirt with a chain detail on the front and a black bralette as my top. Because I had no pockets this time, I brought a small fanny pack that I wore around my waist. My friend and I arrived at the venue with a game plan this time, so we weren’t rushing to get from one stage to another. The night before, we planned out which performers we wanted to see and mapped out the amount of free time we had. I highly recommend doing this to get a sense of who you want to see and plan possible breaks for food and shopping.


The day before, my friend and I noticed Shabang offering a beauty bar. However, by the time we got there, it was closed. We told ourselves we would check it out the next day, which was one of the first things we did. There were tons of available services like eyeshadow, jewels, glitter, and even hair. We went for gem accessories. Since we were already in the area of other vendors, I went to check out a stand that sold earplugs tethered to earrings. After last night, I needed a pair of earplugs to prevent damage to my hearing. They had cute options that ranged from red mushrooms to alien spaceships.

Since the festival started around lunchtime, my friend and I went to get a Bear City Burger from the food truck. We both got the Cali Smash with avocado, swiss cheese, and green chilies. It was messy but very filling. We also stopped by Silly Willy Waffles again, this time getting their mozzarella-filled garlic herb waffle called the Ooey Gooey. The savory take on the waffle made us love the vendor even more. Lastly, we had to revisit Sequel, the boba stand, and try their guava drink this time. I liked the mango more, but this one was a close contender.


This day was stacked with headliners and performers. The first band we saw was Lunar Vacation, who performed on the Laguna Lake stage. That stage is designated for the surf pop/alternative genre, and they didn’t disappoint. After their set, we headed to Funk Safari again because they simply had the jams. That stage stayed packed. Since it was one of our favorites the day before, we returned to the silent disco and jammed for 30 minutes. Then, we went full circle back to the main stage, where we stayed for the rest of the day. We watched JAWNY, who you may recognize from their song “Honeypie.” The band’s set was super hype, and he had great audience interactions. The lead singer had us scream lyrics back to him and got everyone excited for the headliner Hippo Campus.

There were about 30 minutes between JAWNY and Hippo Campus, so my friend and I stayed at the front and to the left. That ended up being the best choice we could ever make. Once Hippo Campus started with “South”, the crowd grew, and I almost lost my friend. The lead singer, Jake Luppen, went to our side and sang to us. He got so close that I touched his very soft sweater. They played their classics such as “Suicide Saturday” and their newer song “Yippee Ki Yay” from their recent album. To end their set, they played “Buttercup,” one of my favorite songs from them. The crowd chanted for an encore, but they were packing and taking instruments off the stage by then. It was a great way to end a 10-hour day.


Not many negatives come to mind with my Shabang experience. I would say Day 2 was my favorite, but both offered great talents. In terms of cuisine, I wish they had more variety. It was primarily American cuisine. It was your typical hamburger, hot dog, pizza, and sandwiches, making it feel like food at a baseball game.

Besides that, I loved the festival overall. The pyrotechnics and production quality was really well done, especially for a smaller festival. The choice to move to a bigger venue was great. It made the festival feel spacious, allowing the 10,000 people to dance without feeling claustrophobic. From the gorgeous art installations, to bass heavy EDM, to the silent disco; I really feel like there is something for everyone at Shabang. I would absolutely go next year, and you should too. Thank you, Shabang, for my first-ever festival experience!

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