Boomtown Fair 2017: Our A-Z of Chapter 9
Boomtown Fair: Chapter 9 – Behind The Mask
For the ninth consecutive time August’s second weekend played host to the Boomtown Fair. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, Boomtown has built itself a reputation on its truly unique and immersive experience. Winchester’s picturesque Matterley Bowl once again greeted citizens of Boomtown with open harms to establish the next chapter of the festival’s ongoing story. Chapter 9 – Behind the Mask opened up a new part of the tale in the Boomtown saga, bringing together new ideas, themes, art and production to the festival.
After announcing that 2017 would see another increase in capacity to 60,000, expectations for the festival were high. Teething problems on day 1 saw the majority of punters queuing upto ten hours to get into the festival after wristband/ticket scanners supposedly malfunctioned. From then on though, Boomtown once again proved its ability in running a festival; a masterclass of pyrotechnics, lasers and dazzling stages. It’s a weekend of extravagance, ridiculousness and fun and the excitement for the festival’s ten year anniversary in overwhelming.
Although Boomtown has an impressive roster of bands and DJs, it is the exploration of more than 100 venues and the ever-evolving story that makes the festival truly unique. Here are our twenty-six highlights from this year’s festival:
A is for Arrested Development
US hip hop group Arrested Development made a debut appearance at Boomtown this year. Since starting in 1988, the group has had a colourful career, and making waves throughout the genre on both sides of the Atlantic. It was an enthralling experience to see Arrested Development plough through their impressive back catalogue of tracks; a band that hold true to the very musical nature of what Boomtown is about.
B is for Barrio Loco
The festival’s infamous Barrio Loco District was once again the hub for techno, house, grime, hip hop and electronica. Built into the centre of Downtown, Barrio Loco played host to some of the best DJs and artists in the UK scene at the moment. The massive Vamos stage was headed by Ben UFO, Mr Scruff and Joy Orbison in a very special three hour b2b2b set on the Saturday night. Grime/hip hop stage Poco Loco saw the likes of AJ Tracey, Loyle Carner, Ocean Wisdom and more, with Boomtown proving for another year that it can host an incredible roster of modern artists and the top of their games.
C is for Cypress Hill
This year Boomtown made one of their biggest headline bookings to date. Iconic American hip hop group Cypress Hill took to the Lion’s Den for an incredible performance; arguably one of the best UK headline performances of the festival season so far. The multi-platinum selling band have sold eighteen million records in their near thirty year careers and bringing them to a field in the middle of the Hampshire countryside was something truly spectacular. The Californian foursome showed us how it was done with a unrivalled live performance of some of Cypress Hill’s best known and most popular tracks. If Boomtown continue to make bookings of this stature, who knows how far this festival could go.
D is for Downtown
Downtown is arguably Boomtown’s most popular area. Encompassing three districts: China Town, Barrio Loco and DSTRKT 5, Downtown pulls together a huge number of musical genres and a maze of street venues to explore. Going into room by room you’ll discover hardcore drum & bass, techno, grime and so much more. Not to mention the bizarre settings and scenery of some rooms. DSTRKT 5 is an immersive dystopian world, sci-fi themed with a futuristic dress code. The exploration of Downtown is one for any Boomtown citizen.
E if for Elf Kid
For someone that’s not hugely into rap music and doesn’t review rap gigs, it’s always interesting to get to see this side of the industry during festival season. Young artist Elf Kid is one of the rising stars of be UK scene and his performance at Boomtown really highlighted his talents. The 20 year old MC played a number of tracks from his acclaimed debut record ‘Golden Boy’ and was greeted with a positive response from an enthusiast crowd. Another artist that could not be left out of our talking points at this year’s festival.
F is for Flava D
Bass queen Flava D never fails to deliver a high energy set, selecting only the freshest bassline tunes around. The Birmingham based producer has been making waves since 2014 and has helped, along with My Nu Leng, pioneer the bassline genre. Playing at Boomtown’s newest stage, Sector-6, Flava D made sure an excitable audience got a set of immense quality and top notch bass tracks. We hope that she continues to be a regular at the festival for years to come.
G is for Grand Finale
Boomtown’s infamous Grand Finale took place at every main stage at the festival after the final set on Sunday evening. This spectacular pyrotechnic display and video, accompanied with some jump up drum & bass, closed the festival’s ongoing story for another year and left everybody wanting more. The video, which has become a crucial part of each chapter in the story, lead us onto next year’s chapter 10. We will see in the next few months how the story will develop. It is this element of the festival that makes Boomtown unique, and will keep people returning year on year to find out the next chapter in this epic saga.
H is for HiTechnicians
DSTRKT 5 is full of venues to explore. HiTechnicians is one of those establishments deep in the dystopian district. The venue promises to deliver citizens with the ‘psychological tools for your own internal revolution!’ Another of the festival’s clever details to link you back to the ongoing story. Viva la revolution.
I is for Immersive Experience
Three years on since my first Boomtown experience, and it still astounds me the level of intimate details which give you a truly immersive feel. Dive headfirst into a one of a kind event that offers one of the most unique weekends in the UK festival calendar. Actors, scenery and sets allow to get lost in the story. If you have no other reason to go to Boomtown, make this be it.
J is for Job Centre
Boomtown’s infamous Job Centre was once again on hand to provide some of the best underground bassline that the festival has to offer. This haven of office furniture and comical signage is just another highlight that marks Boomtown on the proverbial festival map.
K is for Kaotik Kartel
Another venue that we just couldn’t leave off our list of highlights is Kaotik Kartel. Set deep in the heart of Barrio Loco’s favela, the venue brings the best in underground garage, grime and rave music. Koatik Kartel features rising stars of the scene and the secret backstreet venue has expanded giving punters an extended after hours party. Look hard for this one, it’s well worth a visit.
L is for Lion’s Den
Arguably the most impressive stage at Boomtown. The Lion’s Den sits in a natural amphitheatre in the South Downs, allowing the perfect view of the stage from any angle. Some of the festival’s most impressive headliners have graced the Lion’a Den including Madness, The Specials, and M.I.A to name just three. The Lion’s Den has everything; lights, lasers, fire, even cascading water. It’s a spectacle in the dark.
M is for Money
Boomtown has its own currency! This money gets handed around the festival and by Saturday people have fistfuls of cash. You can trade this money with some of the festival’s characters and gain access to secret rooms and speakeasy’s. The town’s rich area, Mayfair, is a place to use your cash. Explore the streets and you may even come across a casino.
N is for Nicky Blackmarket
A pioneer of drum & bass music, Nicky Blackmarket has enjoyed an incredible career in the genre playing all of the world. Blackmarket has been a regular at Boomtown for a number of years and it was a dear pleasure to watch an artist who is still very much at the top of his game.
O is for The Original Blues Brothers Band
Watching the iconic film that is The Blue Brothers as a kid, it was a trip down memory lane to get see the Original Blues Brothers Band at Boomtown. Playing through all the hits from the movie in an energetic set at the Town Centre, it was a great way to round of the final afternoon at this year’s festival. It’s surprise bands like this that help make Boomtown something special.
P is for Psy Forest
Situated just outside the city, the Psy Forest features the world’s best trance and psy-trance music. The sandy floor and colourful decor coupled with an incredible sound system makes for a serious foot-stomping experience. Dance the night away under the cover of the woods.
Q is for Quests
Boomtown is not solely about music. Embark on adventures in the different districts of the city. Explore and discover new venues and secret doorways. Boomtown is a festival of immersiveness, and a full experience comes from delving deeper into the festival’s mysterious underbelly. Use Boomtown money to enter unseen venues and talk to those involved to gain a deeper understanding of the story unfolding in front of your eyes.
R is for Rockwell
Sector-6 once again received another exhilarating set from dnb/bass mogul Rockwell. He is without question a master of the scene, heralded by Billboard, Fact Magazine, Resident Advisor and Mixmag among others as a world class DJ. Rockwell has some incredible releases on arguably some of the world’s biggest labels including Ministry of Sound, Sony Music and Critical. As well as his own residency on BBC Radio 1, Rockwell is a formidable DJ whose sets are known to light up clubs and festivals worldwide. His high octane sets and his tendency to change BPM’s during sets truly set him apart from the rest. This was no different in the limelight at Boomtown this year. Don’t miss any opportunity you get to see this guy in action!
S if for The Specials
Ska band The Specials were this year’s Saturday night headliner. This has got to be one of the best live performances of the year. The group have not lost their touch, even though their careers began in 1977.
T is for The Machine Cannot Be Stopped
Although Chapter 9 pulled out all the stops, we just can’t wait for next year! Festival organisers announced that Boomtown’s tenth anniversary year would be called ‘The Machine Cannot Be Stopped’. The story continues…
U is for Unbelievable stages
Boomtown has arguably the most incredible stages of any UK festival. The colossal structures that tower high above the ground feature some of the best light, laser and pyrotechnic shows the the industry has to offer. These stages provide the bases for some of the world’s greatest DJs and artists to perform.
V is for Vamos
The home of Boomtown’s house and techno scene, Vamos celebrates global dance culture and gives some of the scene’s greatest DJs the platform to perform some epic sets. 2017 played host to a number of big names most notably German producer/DJ Boys Noize. Vamos May look like an ordinary festival tent from the outside, but on the inside it features an incredible wall-like structure, which has images projected onto it. This makes up the huge DJ booth. Yet another venue at Boomtown that cannot be missed.
W is for Woodland Rave
The festival has multiple woods to explore all playing an exciting assortment of tech, hardcore and trance music. The woodland settings are colourful and give a safe space for dancing the day away. The sound system means music pours through the trees attracting people in.
X is for Xtrah
For the second year Sector-6 has proved its might with some incredible drum & bass and bassline sets. The producer/DJ from south London. has an incredible ear for beats and has now released a number of bangers on some of drum and bass’ biggest labels. Xtrah is a true advocate for some of the tip top talent emerging in our capital of late and there’s no doubt Xtrah has made an indelible impression on the scene since his introduction in 2011. Progressing further, Xtrah is also now the boss of his own label dubbed Cyberpunk and with endorsement from some of the scene’s biggest names expect even more from this man in the near future. His set was second to none, and arguably the best dnb set at Boomtown this year. We hope to see at the festival again very soon!
Y is for Your Unique Experience
Boomtown is solely about having an incredible experience, listening to some of the world’s best musicians and DJs and creating memories that will last a lifetime. The weekend’s exploration of the vast site and discover the weird and the wonderful in every single one of the festive’a unique districts. The festival is contagious; it’ll keep you returning year after year.
Z is for Ziggy Marley
A true master of reggae, Ziggy Marley donned the Lion’s Den with an epic set. The forty-nine year old played through a number of his iconic tracks as well as throwing in a couple of his late father’s songs. Reggae music is at the heart of the Boomtown Fair and it was an absolute must to see this talented artists in action. We hope that 2018 will bring even more reggae tracks
Boomtown is a catalyst of hype, and with Glastonbury taking a break again next June, all eyes are on the festival to be the UK’s best. Boomtown will celebrate their tenth birthday in 2018, which means expectations for something truly spectacular are very high indeed. Tickets for Chapter 10 go on sale in October. Watch this space!