Review: Boomtown Fair
"One of the best Boomtown Fairs to date"
As the second weekend of August draws near, festival fans across the country find themselves brimming with excitement for one reason: the arrival of the wild, colourful, hedonistic and downright mental annual spectacle of Boomtown Fair.
I’ve had the good fortune to attend Boomtown for seven years in a row, and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what “the UK’s maddest city” has to offer.
This is about as far from your average summer festival as it’s possible to get: Boomtown stands completely unparalleled in terms of stage design, musical eclecticism, party atmosphere and theatrical immersion. From adventurous family groups, old-school hippies and the more inquisitive of the Home Counties types, through to seasoned techno ravers, excitable teenagers and dreadlocked reggae heads, you’re unlikely to find a wider demographic of attendees anywhere else in the country – and for good reason.
With most festivals, the lineup of headline acts is the main draw, but the beauty of Boomtown is that you could quite easily pay no attention to the programme and have the most life-affirming, memorable and utterly hysterical weekend of your life regardless. The countless city “districts”, from aristocratic actors throwing wads of cash in ‘Mayfair’ to the illicit cowboy hangout of the ‘Wild West’, via the anarchic power plant of ‘Sector 6’ and the dystopian, bass-driven future of ‘DSTRKT 5’, leave you immersed in the truest sense of the word: there is very little to remind you that this isn’t some insane, permanent city structure, as opposed to a 4-day event that has to be erected and then dismantled over precious few weeks.
Having said this, if you do go to festivals on the basis of the lineup, you’ll almost certainly be catered for regardless of your musical preference. Ska and reggae fans had the privilege of seeing The Specials, Ziggy Marley, Toots & The Maytals and Gentleman’s Dub Club all on the monumental Lion’s Den stage; those of a folkier persuasion were treated to Frank Turner and Newton Faulkner; house and techno heads were hypnotised by Booka Shade, Solardo and Dusky; and the drum ‘n’ bass crowd were pummelled into submission by Dub Phizix, Fabio & Grooverider and Mefjus B2B Emperor.
In terms of development, this year mostly stuck to the previous year’s formula, but that’s hardly a criticism. The mind-boggling stages, ludicrous mini-venues, side-splitting character acting and unmatchable community spirit continue to impress, year on year, and aside from a few logistical challenges with the entrance queues on the Thursday, this was one of the best Boomtown Fairs – and one of the best UK festivals – to date. Long may it reign.
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