Two canopies perched at the top of the West Cuesta Ridge Trail were all that stood between Shabang and the onslaught of wind and rain on Saturday.
The crowd — some in windbreakers and others bundled in makeshift trash bag ponchos — did its best to keep the air festive for the charity music event.
A beach ball bounced in the main canopy, holding vibes that were more tropical than tropical storm, while drinks peeked out from the safety of ponchos to keep the illusion steady.
While a few seemed sullen because of the rain, the energy was mostly enthusiastic.
“It was still really, really fun,” Shabang co-creator Greg Golf said. “There were just really good vibes, with everybody meeting new people and being willing to help out and have an awesome time.”
But band members at the beginning of the event were less enthusiastic. They had to push all of their equipment up the grade — about a 20-minute trek — while trying to protect it from water damage. Rain could ruin the instruments, and the sharp rushes of wind weren’t ideal for carrying sound.
“It’s just like — it could ruin your equipment to play in this weather,” electrical engineering sophomore and Shoot the Mariner drummer Dan Potts said. “Like, hundreds if not thousands of dollars.”
A few gave the impression that at that point, they’d rather not perform.
“It’s a shitshow,” said mechanical engineering sophomore Nickie Gurney, guitarist and vocalist for Honestly, Nothing. “Like, my amp is in two garbage bags right now … and I’m already cold and wet — it’s a mess, I don’t know.”
But about 30 minutes into the event, a guitar growled to life under the main canopy, and Shoot the Mariner started to play.
The crowd packed in tighter, swarming the stage space and cheering for a show they thought might not happen.
Most of the band was just barely protected from the onslaught of rain under the canopy, with Potts looking like he was getting the worst of it, stuck behind his drum set at the very back of the canopy. But they kept at it, looking confident on the stage despite the wet bursts of wind that kept slamming against the crowd.
And as music started to echo down the hill, more people hiked up the grade in droves.
It was impressive for Golf to see how an event that was once just a quick gathering of about 40 friends, a generator and a live band, two years ago could grow.
After all, it had only started from a short conversation between co-creators Golf and Carson Stone while they were volunteering at a homeless shelter, where they wanted to have one last ‘shabang’ with each other.
The addition of co-creator Alexander Schwend to the team shortly thereafter helped Shabang draw larger crowds, growing to about 100 people by the second and up to about 500 by the fourth. And even with the weather this year, Shabang managed to draw more than 300 people, according to Golf.
After the second Shabang, the creators decided to utilize the event’s growing popularity for good.
All of the profits this year are set to be given to a charity voted on by the attendees via Facebook poll. The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County looked to be the big winner by Sunday morning, with more than 120 votes.
“I think one of the big things about Shabang is that it looks over some of the best parts of California. People who came here wanted to keep that land pristine, and keep up the aesthetic beauty so it retains it’s natural qualities,” Golf said regarding the land conservancy’s win.
Shabang’s online donation page raised about $580 by Sunday — about 58 percent of its $1000 goal. But Golf said that despite the fact that final totals haven’t been tallied yet, he’s still confident that Shabang brought in enough money to be able to donate a large profit to the land conservancy.
Golf also admitted that this event highlighted a few things that they needed to improve, citing organization as the most important. The trashcans were a big problem, he explained. Despite the fact that they had 10 around the site, they weren’t being watched carefully enough, and the Shabang staff had to head back to the ridge to pick up trash the next morning.
“We didn’t want to damage the land,” Golf said. “Even though we picked (the trash) all up, it was just like, we’re donating to a charity about land conservation. So I wish we had been more proactive about keeping the area clean and communicating the importance of that to everybody there.”
However, Golf explained that he was proud of how much more coordinated the event has become over time, explaining how happy he was with the Shabang staff’s ability to provide safe and accessible transportation, as well as give mostly local performers the chance to play in front of a large crowd. And, more importantly, help a local charity while having fun.
“I also just want to thank everybody who came, though,” Golf added. “Everybody worked hard together so that we could all come together and put all of our effort toward a good cause”