When alumni Greg Golf, Carson Stone and Alexander Schwend gathered their friends for an end-of-the-year night of music on top of Cuesta Ridge, they couldn’t fathom that a couple years down the road their quarterly gathering with some 40 friends would become a music festival attended by more than 2,500 people.
The biannual Shabang Live Music and Art Festival is back at Laguna Lake Park Saturday, May 6 from 2 to 9 p.m. The festival will be an hour longer than previous years with the addition of bands such as the Cosmonauts, Runner and Dog Party. The organizers said they hope this year’s Shabang will be a more immersive festival experience with a small petting zoo, a volleyball net and a face painting booth alongside Cal Poly clubs like Yoga Club, Cornhole Club and SLO Glo. There will also be more food vendors, including Real Food Cooperative, Woodstock’s Pizza, Javed Kabab Paradise Food Truck and Poke Chef.
Though Shabang was free for most of its existence, it can no longer be funded solely by student donations. Tickets are $5 online and $7 at the door. A shuttle pass and ticket is $12.
“[It’s] not conducive to our growth, we couldn’t sustain ourselves by having a free music festival,” Stone said. “College students don’t want to donate money that much … we wanted to keep it cheap, we wanted it to be a place where people can have fun for a reasonable price.”
The revenue from Shabang will fund the festival’s expansion this year, as well as a local charity. In past years, proceeds funded El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO). This year, people voted in an online poll to donate funds to the Women’s Shelter of San Luis Obispo.
Shwend organizes event management and finances for Shabang. He said he’s excited to local participation in the festival this year.
“One thing we like about this is that we get the opportunity to provide a platform for people that normally wouldn’t get it,” he said. “If they want to showcase a new idea for a business or a new art collaboration or if they’re playing music, to be able to play on a stage [they can].”
Golf helped organize Shabang since its inception, but now lives in Texas where he still helps put together the festival remotely. He coordinates the advertising campaign, sponsorships, vendors and volunteers over the phone and keeps in contact with the team through weekly Skype meetings.
“It’s really fulfilling work. People will come to us and say Shabang has been a constant in their college experience,” Golf said. “Just knowing that it’s giving people these euphoric memories, it makes all of us want to continue this work and grow the local music scene, keep giving to charity and just making sure Cal Poly and SLO don’t lose another stable event.”
Golf and the other founders said they feel Cal Poly students have lost many traditions that were once big parts of the college experience, such as Wildflower and Mardi Gras.
“College students need a place and time where they can go and have fun with their friends without being pestered or getting in trouble,” Stone said. “It’s in a safe environment; it’s legal. We want to put on something that people look forward to every year like they used to look forward to all of those events … Not parties, but events you can go to with your friends and know it’s going to be a blast and it’d be one of the highlights of the year.”