Reviewed: BoomTown Fair: Chapter 9
Situated on the picturesque Matterley Estate near Winchester, BoomTown Fair has spent the past nine years ensuring its place in the UK festival circuit where it is deserved; the top.
Anyone who has visited BoomTown will tell you that the range of genres available to punters is unbelievably diverse. One moment you’re standing in front of Cypress Hill, the next you’re trapped in a tiny room with a gypsy swing band you’ve never heard of. But it’s this mystery, the sheer unpredictability, which catapults Boomtown right to the top.
The first thing you realise at BoomTown is that despite the huge site needed to entertain everyone from first timers to festival demi-gods; nothing has been forgotten. The stages are incredible, from a huge temple; the Lions Den to Bang Hai Towers, the whole site is a spectacle in itself. Some of BoomTown’s finer points are in the detail, from the actors which parade around the festival’s various ‘zones’ in full costume to the quirky features: such as a telephone box in Chinatown, which randomly rings, and when answered you’re sent on a wild quest to rescue some forlorn rebel who has been captured by the establishment.
This attention to detail isn’t just noticeable in the site and its own staff, but the effort to which the regulars make in order to become part of the city is also unprecedented. Everywhere you look people are dressed in wild costumes, often in big groups; all trying their best to outdo their friends with the best post-apocalyptic regalia. Production value is clearly something which hasn’t missed out as a result of consistently delivering a myriad of world class acts.
And this year was no exception. Whether you’re a reggae fan and were only there for Ziggy Marley; or a DnB head craving some Optiv & BTK, there really is something for everyone.
And the whole weekend presented some of the best sets I have ever seen.
Kicking off the weekend was Toots and the Maytals. Having just listened to the opening of the festival, the crowd around the Lion’s Den was huge and they were ready to start one of the most anticipated weekends in the festival calendar. Commanding the crowd with ease, in the glorious southern sun (I’m northern and not bitter at all…) we were lulled by the familiar reggae sounds we all wanted, and being treated to such a classic as 54-46 Was My Number is something which I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Another highlight of the weekend was that of drum and bass don Icicle. There’s no question of ability when it comes to such a prestigious DJ, however, when you scale up your performances to be live, with your whole production set up; this is where things get mind blowing. He seamlessly transitioned from ‘track’ to ‘track’ whilst laying down drums on the spot for an hour with no mistakes (he may have made a few but I was too in awe to notice). And to do this atop a 60-70ft tall platform overlooking the crowd was no mean feat.
As I’ve already said, with so many stages, there is plenty of acts to be seen at any one time, but there are also a lot of areas on the site which many take in as you’re walking past whilst out adventuring.
These stages; such as the Dubtendo, the ASBO Disco and the Block Party in Barrio Loco always showcase the best talent and the Block Party, hosted by Loose Lips hit the nail on the head with a wide variety on offer all weekend. And they didn’t struggle to hold a huge crowd at the front of Vamos enjoying the beats each day.
Keeping them rolling through the weekend were a slew of DJs and rappers, from their own residents Rommek, Paxman, Juggins, Medallion Man & Treece, who were serving up their self described stupid, bombastic bass music; to some sneaky features from Real Life Drama Records finest Smellington Piff, Sean Peng & BVA to unbelievable DJs such as Warlock and Luke Handsfree. Whenever I walked past, irrespective of whether the guys were playing hip hop or garage there were people loving the sounds, powered by the amazing Void Incubus rig.
Whether you want a bit more of a chilled weekend spending your time Uptown listening to reggae or folk; or you’re there to descend into complete anarchy Downtown with its monumental stages and huge pyrotechnics, BoomTown’s recipe for success is the same.
BoomTown excels because the team has created not just a festival, but a community of like minded individuals. And when you combine this amazing community with some of the best acts the world has to offer it’s difficult to feel anything but joy; and an innate sense of belonging when you attend.
I challenge anyone to go, open yourself to what BoomTown has to offer and come back with anything other than a massive grin on your face. BoomTown is an unmistakable 10/10. And it’s, for this reason, I will be attending again next year, and the year after, and the one after that…