Trenchtown, a celebration of Jamaican music and soundsystem culture, is at the heart of Boomtown, with its musical influence heard across the entire festival. Home to the UK’s biggest dedicated reggae stage, The Lion’s Den stands a staggering 40ft tall; an ‘ancient temple’ adorned with cascading waterfalls and explosive pyrotechnics, providing a jaw dropping setting for global reggae legends and homegrown talents. Boomtown’s additional reggae focussed stages include the long established Hidden Woods which transports to a woodland reggae beach party and the mighty Tangled Roots which takes soundsystem appreciation to another level, programmed by London/Bristol collective Lion Unit.
The Lion’s Den once again plays host to some of the scene’s most iconic acts with a record breaking amount of Jamaican artists leading a staggering line-up of authentic reggae acts; including Ziggy Marley making his debut in the heart of Trenchtown, the welcome return of 45-46 legend Toots & The Maytals who last played in 2010, and reggae’s original MC’s Big Youth + U-Roy. Perhaps reggae’s most famous family after the Marley’s The Bonner Brothers, will also be in attendance consisting of Richie Spice, Spanner Banner, Snatcha Lion, Shepherd Bonner and influential crossover artist Pliers with Chaka Demus!
Going from strength to strength over the past few years, reggae music has had an exciting resurgence of conscious, organic music, dubbed the ‘Reggae Revival’, elevating the scene to the strongest it’s been in years. Alongside the line ups authentic founding fathers, The Lion’s Den will be hosting some of the most prolific new-wave reggae acts from Jamaica. Protoje’s philosophical lyrics, articulating the ‘righteous anger of an emerging generation’ puts him at the helm with new track ‘Blood Money’ calling out governmental double standards. Raging Fyah’s intricate harmonies matched with roots rock reggae has secured them as one of Jamaica’s most promising young acts and Jah9’s improvisational ‘jazz on dub’ style is elevated by hard hitting lyrics. Iba Mahr & Harar Band brings a fresh flavour to lovers rock with Rastafarianism at the centre of his sound, promoting spiritual consciousness and Suns Of Dub reimagine dub music, incorporating live instruments such as melodica, steeply, nyabinghi drums & vinyl into their innovative sets.
Over at the oasis of Hidden Woods, a beautiful woodland glade complete with, hammocks and treetop walkways sitting atop a sandy canvas, those who reach this hidden beach inspired area will find the party in full swing. Whether day or night, this soundsystem is heard swelling through the trees with some of the highest quality in reggae, dancehall and jungle. Randy Valentine and Runkus & the Old Skool Band will be continuing a showcase of reggae revival with their modern take on the genre. London based Nice Up! Records will be vibrating the woods with a massive carnival flavour takeover complete with afrobeats, dancehall, soca and jungle vibes courtesy of label runners Shepdog & Seani T as well as Mr Benn feat. Lorna King & Gardna, Ghost Writerz feat. Serocee & RTKAL, Blend Mishkin, Red Eye Hi-Fi feat. Fox & Kiva, Cut La Vis, AAA Badboy Vs Dub Boy (Soca Set), Riddim Punx, Origin One & Parly B and Jahkron – in the words of Nice Up! they’ll be ‘taking in the rich history of soundsystem culture and spitting it back out for modern dancefloors’. Conscious lyricist Nattali Rize brings heavy beats whilst reggae roots bands such as Italian group Shanti Powa who bring influences from across Europe, Brisbane based Australian weighty bassers Kingfisha and UK’s own Kioko will be providing reggae inspired vibes from across the globe.
Tangled Roots curated by Trinity Music London and powered by South London’s Unit 137 along with Bristol’s Lionpulse soundsystems, one of the most coveted rigs, is known collectively as Lion Unit. Presenting a collective of DJs, producers, vocalists, engineers and instrumentalists drawn together by a shared passion for conscious, forward thinking bass music. Set to send vibrations throughout, this stage is topped by one of the world’s best known soundsystems, Channel One’s tight vinyl sections of dub classics, old and new, show how they became such heavy influencers of dubstep. RSD of Smith & Mighty fame playing alongside Hippy Lee as Riddimwize, hosted by MC Joe Peng. Old school Rinse DJ Uncle Dugs will be reaching for bangers whilst Sinai Sound fuse classic and modern dub and reggae, pushing the boundaries of soundsystem culture alongside established trailblazers, Real Roots and so many more whose domination of the dance will educate and entertain, leaving each in attendance with eyes closed and minds opened.
A global celebration of reggae and dub from all corners of the world, this year at Boomtown sees artists which represent each step the evolution of reggae; from the great influence it’s had on heavy hitters such as legendary ska headliners The Specials, political dub poet, activist and musician Benjamin Zephaniah, and Australian loop pedal extraordinaire Dub FX. Prolific artists representing the past, present and future in reggae with one of the heaviest Jamaican line-ups makes this a festival not to be missed for all inspired by the roots this genre has provided to the music scene. TICKETS HERE