From heavy metal to bass weight, here are eight things we learnt at this year’s Boomtown.
Ahead of Boomtown Chapter 10 there was much online discussion around the changes to the micro-venues, the option to include big headline acts such as Gorillaz and Die Antwoord and sound problems. Whilst this year’s edition definitely saw a noticeable lack of smaller venues (ALAN we miss you!), there seemed to be hundreds more incredible storylines, treasure hunts and even a huge piece of experiential immersive theatre via AMI (Artificial Machine Intelligence) – more on her later – which made this year’s Boomtown a truly spectacular edition; a party where punters could immerse themselves, and ask big questions while sipping cider and brocking out.
CH10’s theme was for festival goers to be ‘part of the Boomtown story’. Though a little of the independent sparkle was missing thanks to the closure of a number of smaller venues; Boomtown still feels revolutionary, reactive and politically charged. With the exception the Desperados micro-venue, the only visible brands were the ones being served by the bar staff. Boomtown is a festival for the people, by the people; powered by a team of creative minds, musicians and performers all looking to push things forward through basslines, dramatic sets and narrative.
Here are eight things we learnt at this year’s Boomtown:
Our chests were rattled at Tangled Roots with Uncle Dugs; bodies bounced around by Ed Rush’s 20 Years of Virus Records at Sector 6, and totally finished off by Zinc b2b Eats Everything b2b Special Request at Bang Hai on the Sunday evening. But it wasn’t just the main stages that appealed to our Amen persuasion, we were also jungled out in the mini-venues and at Robotica with Aphrodite.
Give me body!
The programming at The Pagoda stage spanned house and techno, with incredible dancers on stage to boot. Our highlights were Honey Dijon with her ravishing dancers, Dusky’s late night set and last but not least, Moxie. Idris Elba also caused a total gridlock, with Luther fans queuing around the block to get a taste of his four to the floor selections.
Micro-venues with purpose
Whilst there were less micro-venues this year, the LGBTQI+ Red Rash Inn and Itchy Disco came through with the goods. Behind dirty shop windows, subversive genderless dancers and fake hamsters gyrated in the window to the tune of disco and soulful 80s bangers.
Throughout Boomtown you’ll find nods to political campaigns; from graffiti daubed on a fake mining town – ‘FRACK OFF!’ – to signs like ‘The Land Is Ours’. It might not hit you immediately, but after a day or two you will start to clock that Boomtown is one huge piece of social commentary. This year there were a host of talks at Speaker’s Corner with LGBTQI+ activist Dan Glass and Calais activist Liz Clegg talking at length about their causes.
Drug testing is in high demand
Festival goers queued for hours in the rain to test samples. Hosted by The Loop, this year the organisation tested a whopping 2000 samples, encouraging punters to rave safe. They also provided a giant periodic table where ravers could cross reference their drugs. The friendly and approachable Loop team were on hand to offer practical tips and advice.
Don’t deny the metal
This year Earache Records programmed the Earache Factory stage where the metal vibe was strong. Saturday night’s headliner Soul Fly tore the roof off with circle-pits aplenty… Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Limp Bizkit, whose performance was more akin to a soggy 00s rock covers band. Sorry Fred!
Bang Hai have one eye on A.I
The Bang Hai district presented one of their most impressive pieces of immersive theatre to date. Artificial Machine Intelligence (AMI) was an astute subversive critique on the data-obsessed machines and programmes that are ingrained in modern society. There were actors pretending to be malfunctioning robots, mad scientists, digital transmogrification, VR goggles and social ranking. AMI nailed the sentiments and fears around big data.
Creative freedom is king
From volunteer set builders to painters, carpenters and musicians, Boomtown is a festival where the best minds can come together. Vibrant creatives build and concoct story lines, and dramatic cycloramas to take punters away from the everyday.
For more information about Boomtown Fair, visit their website.