I must admit I have officially covered a music festival for the last fifteen years at least and that made this a very new experience for me. Seeing a festival as a spectator, as an actual festivalgoer, and my first in the UK, was destined to be Boomtown 2016, Chapter 8.
If you haven’t heard of Boomtown before, it is a music festival with few major headliners, spread out over four days and held around Winchester. The festival is so much more than a music festival as it submerges its visitors in quite a few different ‘districts’ or ‘sectors’ that intend to immerse their audience in unique sensory wonderment.
You have the Wild West, Mayfair, Whistler’s Green (much like hippy central), Trenchtown (think Reggae people), District 6 full of industrial dystopia, Chinatown and the new Sector 6 to name a few. Problem is, four days simply isn’t enough to explore all the wonderment this festival provides. Instead of dipping from one music act to another, we spent much of our time not knowing the artists on hand but rather enjoying them as we explored the separate unique areas at Boomtown.
One night we adventured to Wild West and entered a small venue shaped like a saloon that had a DJ playing music that was both western and techno based. Also, along the way you find venues in the forest like the Raveyard or the Tribe of Frogs where we danced for ages not knowing the artist or songs played – just great beats and no reason not to dance.
Didn’t matter how long you roamed the districts, you would come across fascinating little areas, rooms of music, communities, you were never at a loss for something to do. At one point we discovered a forest lit up with fluorescent lights and these alcoves of wooden benches that welcomed passers by for random conversations and a warming sense of community. Didn’t manage to find Charlie Brown’s Casino and frankly I’m a bit disappointed in myself for this.
Boomtown, like many festivals, does have a reputation, so I was determined to remain completely sober for the entire experience, and did so. Some may say I wasn’t enjoying the experience fully but I wanted my wits about me at my first UK festival and I wanted to walk against the grain and actually enjoy the festival without any influence. Those around me didn’t judge me nor I them. We were all in the understanding we were there to enjoy ourselves in whatever way we chose to do so. That has to be one of the greatest aspects of Boomtown, acceptance and a sense of community. Random interactions were bountiful and often left with a tiny bit of joy from these brief encounters.
I also enjoyed how eco-conscious the festival was, how great the artisan food stalls were and even the loos were environmentally sound. So much care and detail goes into the building of Boomtown, that should be the reputation they have as few festivals I have attended managed to meet the standards and meticulous construction of Boomtown.
Of course I saw headliners Madness and Damien Marley who were both absolutely outstanding, but for me the true highlight of the event was attending Speaker’s Corner and listening to Maisie Williams speak about education (Arya Stark in Game of Thrones) and most of all, Jess Thom speaking about being a Tourette’s hero.
Thom was the highpoint of Boomtown for me with her passion to communicate and how she has managed to take something typically disempowering by society and make it not only empowering, but her strength. The woman is a complete inspiration and I was truly moved to hear her speak.
At only 19, Williams has a strong voice and wants to share her experiences. Much of the audience was Game of Thrones fans but I really commended her for having a platform and using it to educate people. She is bold and vibrant and well worth paying attention to.
Boomtown was a confection of dalliances, a plethora of experiences and a communal sense of oneness. Most of all, I enjoyed the experience for gathering and spending time with a small tribe of campers that enriched my experience by welcoming me and offering a helping hand for me to understand all that is delightful about Boomtown.
Journey onwards. This Lady has experienced Boomtown and found it most pleasing.