Arriving through the winding roads of the south (yes we’re northerners), you enter an enchanting world so far away from reality you have to double take, and rub your eyes in amazement. Not only on the sheer grand scale of the event, but the attention to detail to each ‘mini town’ that the creators have painstakingly built. Like a kid in a sweet shop you’ll peek around each corner, only to be amazed at what you’ll discover next.
For four days you can truly immerse yourself in the story of the rise of the revolution, watch it unravel with electrifying performances across the towns and even be a part of it, choose which side you wish to follow in this pop up world. Everything is executed to perfection, from words of wisdom imprinted onto trees, the freshly printed ‘Daily Rag’ newspaper to the details of the 9 city districts and 24 main stages to explore. A film set in which you play the character.
We first stepped into the town centre, an eccentric hub of BoomTown, styled to look like the centre of London (at least that’s the feeling we got with the mock base of Nelson’s column in the centre). Surrounded by propaganda artwork, this area is definitely not a part of the revolution scene. Fake armed guards and people dressed with cctv cameras on their heads patrol the upper balconies to ensure that the dictatorship’s rules are put into effect whilst subliminal messages are projected onto the town hall building. Regardless of this, we wondered around key places such as the job centre (if you ever fancy working on your precious day off), the bad apple bar, and caught one of Boomtown’s Saturday night main acts Leftfield, who electrified the crowd with their performance, which in true Leftfield style, started off with deep grooved baselines and then progressed with their sophisticated arrangement whilst being blanketed in an amazing full stage visuals. But this mammoth of a stage also houses a variety of sounds from folk, ska, punk and hip hop with performances taking place throughout the day and night.
Leaving the town centre we went to swanky Mayfair where the bandstand in the middle plays host to a variety of amazing performances, even bluegrass renditions of rock songs, surely it can’t get any better than this. In the corner of mayfair (once you’ve walked past the burlesque women offering passers by their charms and spanking naughty bankers in the streets) you’ll find the Bank Of Mayfair, where the elites of Boomtown, (think bowler hats and drag queens) dangle money on a piece of string from a balcony to torment the paupers. Inside the bank we see similar sights of bank tellers throwing fake money across the floor and getting poor punters to do demeaning acts to gain their wealth. After rolling in our new filthy richness and stepping back out we see the same bankers relieving their throbbing spanked bottoms with a chilled refreshment from the sky bar which offers a birds eye view of the festival and it’s colourful 50,000 participators.
The Wild West is somewhere that even Clint Eastwood would be envious of, at night we found a variety of music hidden inside calamity styled doorways and alleyways, honestly, every turning we took led us to a new venue with yet another band or act playing. Resting on a rustic hay bale we watched a toothless man ramble on at the ‘perverts’ peeping through the peepholes (we won’t tell you what we saw in those holes) and outlaws receiving their punishment on the stocks outside the sheriff’s courthouse.
If you go down to the woods…. (which we did) we entered yet another world, out of the glorious mayhem and into the forest parties, trees and sand delivers an amazingly bizarre sight. Various rave venues with moss cocoons and reggae wooden shacks were there to suit everyone. We often took refuge in these littler venues to catch a break, a well needed breather or even just a moment to rest our feet from the miles of walking. One of our favourite rest breaks was the wandering word where freedom of speech is embraced in rhythm and rhyme through talented performances and even open mic sets.
Headlining Saturday night down at the Lion’s Den, an Aztec style stage in a grassy bowl were ska legends Madness. Holding a crowd of 15,000 people this stage was fascinating, waterfalls decorate each side of the set and as for Madness – they truly set the bar with Suggs on top form, and Sunday night saw Fat Freddy’s Drop and Damian Marley close the festival (on that stage at least)
Let’s talk belly, Food on offer here is plentiful and not just offering your average festival burger, a variety of vegan, vegetarian and nutritious delights awaits your pallet, some outlets even open 24 hours!
What we truly loved about this festival is the fancy dress element – the wackier the better, with so many themes and messages to embrace this is a place where people can truly escape from their real selves and re-imagine themselves as anyone they want to be, who could put a price on that.
We did it, we entered the insanely wonderful chapter 8 of BoomTown which did not disappoint. A festival which can only be described as mind blowing and an experience like no other. More than just a great lineup of performances and artists, it carries a deeper meaning and creates a community of happy souls. No genre of music is left out at BoomTown and whatever tickles your ear drums you will find it right here. Our only regret for this year is not being able to be at every district or stage at once, this festival could go on for a month and you still would feel like you had missed something out.
So…… bring on Chapter 9, Behind the mask 10th – 13th August 2017.