As a Boomtown Fair virgin, I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived at the site in Hampshire on the 9th August. I’d heard it was amazing. I’d seen colourful photos, read rumours of secret sets and quirky experiences and spent far too long trying to choose my wardrobe for our four days there.
Once we got inside the site – laden down with bags – a curious looking man came up to us and asked us what took us so long. ‘Where were you guys? We’ve been waiting for you!’ he cheered at us before ushering us in further where we found ourselves surrounded by colourful outfits, bubbles and all sorts of performances.
It was the perfect welcome to sum up our time at the festival. The entire festival was filled with oddball experiences like this one. In Old Town, we stumbled across a tiny room with an eccentric lady looking for a husband – the only catch was, if he wasn’t a virgin, he had to sit in a trunk as she washed him of his sins (using a telephone). In Dstrkt 5, we found rundown sets that made us feel like we’d stepped into the world of twenty one pilot’s newest videos as punks ran riot with water pistols for guns. At the forest parties, we discovered floating pods above the water where people relaxed and lazed, listening to the music around them.
In short, it was like walking into a whole other world where we could be who we wanted; by day or even by district. Each time we stepped out of our tent there was something new to discover whether it was a secret set, a church choir or a crazy post office.
Let’s put it this way: you’ll never get bored at Boomtown.
We threw ourselves into the experience and yet there was still so much we missed. One day, guests ran past in a flurry with a secret task to interview the scientists of Bang Hai Industries. I asked them what they were doing and how we could get in on this crazy adventure and we were simply told to ‘follow the story’. Unfortunately, we found out too late that by mentioning a secret phrase to a secret person at a secret venue could send us on a journey all around the site – taking part in different tasks – but this is definitely something we’ll be doing next year.
As well as being entirely immersive, Boomtown Fair also had, of course, lots of music on offer. Luckily we split our days up well, we spent most days exploring and trying random things whereas the evenings were dedicated to seeing as many performances as we could.
We saw far too many to count. Oh My God, It’s The Church, for example, was one super quirky band that encouraged us to confess – and indulge – in our sins, all whilst singing along to sexy Jesus. The Dub Pistols provided a much needed pick me up on the Saturday afternoon when the tiredness was getting to us, whereas endless DJ’s kept us up all night, dancing in tiny smoky rooms.
Stand out performances of the entire weekend had to be Enter Shikari and Die Antwoord, however. Enter Shikari put on the performance of a lifetime and even though I’d seen them live many times before, to see them at a festival of this capacity was an experience in itself. I cannot explain the raw performance given on stage that night but everyone definitely felt it – there wasn’t one person in the audience that wasn’t singing or moshing along. Their final song, Live Outside, was quite simply emotional and passionate. It was the perfect end to their set and thinking back about it now gives me goosebumps.
At the slightly bigger Lion’s Den, Die Antwoord headlined on the Sunday night. Despite being a little late on stage (which personally I am thankful for as I had to run from one venue to another – and find time to pee! – in a mere half an hour slot so luckily I didn’t miss any of their performance), the band more than made up with it with an energetic performance. I almost forgot how many well known songs they have and kept expecting them to play songs I didn’t know but, like Enter Shiarki’s performance, everyone sung along and really got into every song. Die Antwoord are almost a band destined to play festival headline slots – with their crazy live performances.
Even the venues impressed. The Lion’s Den offered actual waterfalls and rope bridges and Bang Hai Towers was like something out of the future.
Overall, Boomtown Fair offered more than any other music festival I’ve ever attended. To me, it was a mix between Lost Village and Reading Festival, only with a much more diverse range of music. There was simply something for everyone – if you wanted to go just for the music, there were performances on all day. If you wanted something a little more like me, there were more experiences to shake your stick at, including Slime Rooms (which unfortunately we didn’t have time to attend!), Church confession booths and even a library.
The 10th closing ceremony announced the launch of a new start for Boomtown Chapter 11: The Radical City. I’ll be buying my tickets the moment they go on sale, eager to get involved with the fresh new storyline for 2019.