SLO music festival Shabang returns after COVID hiatus

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Hot Flash Heat Wave plays at Shabang on Friday, May 13, 2022. More bands are coming to the Laguna Lake Park festival on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Catherine Allen

San Luis Obispo’s music scene has long been rooted in house shows and young, local bands.

That scene is amplified and celebrated at this year’s Shabang Live Music & Arts Festival, which returned this spring after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-day festival kicked off Friday and concludes on Saturday at Laguna Lake Park.

Shabang was founded in 2014 by a group of Cal Poly friends. Over the years, the DIY festival has grown from 40 attendees to upwards of 7,000.

With local bands, art and a so-called “silent disco” located behind the front frame of a house — a homage to SLO’s local house shows — Shabang’s DIY brand rings true today.

This year, the festival featured four stages with more than 50 musical acts — including several up-and-coming bands.

SLO music festival kicks off with energy and excitement

Performing on Friday were TV Girl, The Knocks, Levitation Room and Hot Flash Heat Wave, who released a new album a few weeks ago called “Sportswear.” Headliners on Saturday include STRFKR, Walker & Royce, VNSSA and Neil Frances.

Other bands included The Charities, a local band that lives on a ranch in Creston, and Creative Differences — a band from Huntington Beach that played multiple original songs, including one with about a million streams called “So Beautiful.”

TV Girl performed with Brooklyn-based bassist Zoe Zeeman. It was Zeeman’s first of many concerts with TV Girl as they gear up for a tour in the United Kingdom.

Immediately after stepping off stage, Zeeman said she loved the excitement and energy of the crowd.

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LA-based indie band TV Girl headlines Shabang on Friday, May 13, 2022 with new bassist Zoe Zeeman. Catherine Allen

As they watched TV Girl perform at the end of day one, San Luis Obispo band Honeyboys said playing at Shabang has been a goal since they first got started.

The band, which consists of Cal Poly students, is making its festival debut on Saturday.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Honeyboys frontman Ari Eisenberg, a fourth-year student at Cal Poly.

The band will perform their hits like “I Just Wanna Know” and “Grapevine Pt. I” along with their newly released album, “Come to the Show.”

Honeyboys guitarist Reese Gardner said band members were very “critical” during practices, so that by the time they’re finally on stage, they could “be in the moment.”

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Yael Bouzaglo sells handmade jewelry at Shabang on Friday, May 13, 2022. Catherine Allen

Event features vendors, art and more

In addition to live music, this year’s Shabang features several independent vendors — such as Ventura resident Yael Bouzaglo of Evida Co. She creates handcrafted jewelry pieces using natural stones and detailed beading.

“This is actually my first real festival that I’m selling at so it’s really exciting,” Bouzaglo said.

Bouzaglo had her first Shabang experience on Friday, and early on into the event she said she was already loving the atmosphere.

“Everybody’s just been so nice; I feel like with some music festivals it can feel very clique-y, it can feel like just an Instagram contest almost,” Bouzaglo said. “Here it just feels grounded, very warm and welcoming.”

Bouzaglo planned to set up her booth on Saturday, too.

“I love doing the beaded pieces, because that’s what I started with and it just feels like I’m connecting back to my original process, so I’d say those are the most creative and cathartic for me to make,” Bouzaglo said.

Other attractions at the 2022 festival range from local art to miniature car speed racing to structures built by Cal Poly architecture students.

The festival also offers Shabang University, featuring activities such as yoga and a “breath and booty grooves” class.

Attendees at Shabang on Friday included San Luis Obispo locals Maddie Sandoval, sporting a neon green top she thrifted in San Francisco, and Elysia Miller, who was showing off her handmade snake earrings.

While Friday was Sandoval’s first Shabang experience, Miller said she’s been to the festival many times in the past.

“I feel like it’s the only local thing that happens where it’s like a whole community coming together for arts and music,” Miller said.

Admission to Saturday’s Shabang festivities costs $95. For information, and to buy tickets, go to shabangslo.com.

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Shabang Live Music & Arts Festival is back Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14, 2022 with around 7,000 people expected to attend. Tickets for Saturday are still on sale on the Shabang website. Catherine Allen

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LA-based indie band TV Girl headlines Shabang on Friday, May 13, 2022 with new bassist Zoe Zeeman. Catherine Allen

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An entertainer on stilts welcomes people entering Shabang on Friday, May 13, 2022. Catherine Allen

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The Hush House paid homage to the house show culture of San Luis Obispo, according to festival organizers. The Hush House silent disco was just one attraction at the Shabang Live Music & Arts Festival, held from Friday, May 13, 2022 to Saturday, May 14, 2022. Catherine Allen

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Fans cheer on TV Girl at Shabang on Friday, May 13, 2022. Catherine Allen

This story was originally published May 14, 2022 11:15 AM.

Catherine Allen is a reporting intern at the San Luis Obispo Tribune covering breaking news and business. She is a second year journalism major at Cal Poly.