And, so the world was changed forever, and yet still hauntingly familiar. Boomtown Fair returned to the Matterley Estate near Winchester yet AGAIN for another year of madness in the world of Nicholas Boom. With the Sector 6 reactor going into meltdown creating the ‘no-go’ Area 404 and former Bang Hai Towers, now Relic, erupting new sound waves, the attendees were taken on a journey into the next chapter. Jam-packed with an amazing lineup, unreal infrastructure and unforgettable day and nightlife, Boomtown: Chapter 11 – “A Radical City” offered everything you would expect from a modern festival and more.
Boomtown believes strongly in sustainability and this could be seen with the use of recycled and hand-made items used for set design, which also contributed majorly to the authenticity of the production. Their reusable water bottles and recycling bins were available across the site and they held an eco-bond system upon exit – a bag of rubbish in exchange for a tenner.
There was a vast offering of cuisine and the variety of foods and flavours found across the districts were great. Catering for meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans and those with allergens alike, those early morning or late-night snacks were on hand – and they did not fail to hit the spot! A clear festival favourite was the Fish and Chips at the bottom of Paradise Heights – stumbled upon by many of our friends on their journey back to the campsite.
Entry to this year’s festival was faultless, both Wednesday and Thursday entry was relatively easy leaving us with a quick two-hour process from arriving at the initial gates to putting our tents up! Security on site seemed to be in high spirits even towards the end of their long shifts – we turned up as they were shutting the gates for the evening, however, they were humorous and wished us on our way. One thing which we were shocked by was the huge number of campers who had arrived early on the Wednesday and occupied the site. It added immensely to the atmosphere on the first day in comparison to last year. Even with many more people on site, it seemed an effortless process.
After 11 years, Boomtown continues to pull their lineup out of the bag every single year. With an extensive roster of talent being on hand years on end, A Radical City was no different. Hidden gems and evident headliners can be seen left and right with many days and nights being spent arguing about the artists on offer. Decisions on whether to see Carl Cox at Area 404 or Brockie and MC Get at Relic and if it’s worth the walk – it always is; every time. Strolling through Downtown you may catch a glimpse of 24 Hour Garage Girls or Ocean Wisdom down in Barrio Loco, or Inja and Shy FX by Relic – or Inja again at Mr Whompy in Paradise Heights, who kindly jumped on our close friends’ at House of Hi-Fi’s set, after their resident DJ AMA dropped Benny L ft. Inja’s – Vanta Blackin‘. A must-see if you haven’t already!
Tangled Roots takes it back providing the ultimate chill Reggae and Jungle vibes across the weekend and as you head up into the Town Centre for the Punk and Ska sounds, there is always a door or path to get lost down – you could end up in the Croaker Club in Copper County or the Post Office in Old Town.
After an amazing response to ‘Wizville’ it was only fair that Camden-born Ocean Wisdom was at Boomtown to give fans what they wanted! Showcasing his raw flows, provocative lyrics and slick timing it was nothing less than expected but everything more than you could want. Poco Loco was treated to a low-key, late-night rave as event security closed doors promptly at the beginning of the set due to being at capacity. The crowd were in full flow as the instrumental to Revvin’ dropped and even without Dizzee Rascal on stage it was still an unreal show. We’re looking forward to further releases from Ocean Wisdom in the future and undoubtedly, you’ll find him high up on festival posters!
If that was your first time seeing Mike Skinner live then you definitely won’t forget it. And, if you’ve seen him before then you’ll know that he was in great form. The Lion’s Den was full to the brim with people expecting a party – and that’s what they got! Playing a mixed set of old and more recent songs we were kept entertained throughout but you can’t help but wonder what he’d had to drink before he’d gotten on stage. Stumbling around, much to our humour, we were then treated to some much-loved rambling from Mr Skinner – “Tomorrow, when Lauryn Hill’s on, I want one of you lot to climb up on stage and get in the waterfall.” He then made his way towards one of the two waterfalls onstage and took a dip for himself. He’s nuts but my God don’t he know it?! And, with that being said the unforgettable set, for many reasons, ended with a proper party. ‘Fit But You Know It’, unbelievable lights, great sound and intense energy – what a way to end the night. We love you, Mike.
We’ve only just gotten rid of my Boomtown blues at inSYNC but we’re ready for our next hit of madness with a Halloween party at the festival organisers’ new Bristol venue not too far away. We’d love to see more of the same from Boomtown as it’s clear to see they’re at the peak of festival creativity and immersiveness in the UK and we look forward to what it is they have to offer. No doubt we’ll be strolling up to the Matterly Estate with the same enthusiasm next August, but until then we’ll leave it upto you to conjure up your own idea of what to expect in 2020!
GUEST WRITTEN BY THOMAS MEHARI