Where music festivals usually make the music the most important part of the festival, I would consider the music a distant third in Boomtown’s approach to festivaling. First and foremost is the story where an existential world is envisaged that crosses paths between a hard copy of Orwell’s 1984 and 1930s Germany where anything alternative was frowned upon but hidden in every nook of the city for those citizens willing to embrace difference. Then the music…which in itself is also quite marvelous.
What you can expect from Boomtown is the unexpected and with a core story at the centre of the festival that amplifies current political issues, foils societal tropes and subverts present day idiocies, you get a cohesive story that runs throughout the entire festival and all it’s districts.
Following the revolution of 2017, Comrade Jose has since fled the city of Boomtown never to be seen again. Over the winter months the citizens of Boomtown stand silent as they wait for the new leader, the one and only mask man to rise from the darkness and walk them into the light.
Speaking of which, Boomtown revels in a multitude of experiences emerging into one place and time. A little of everything for everyone is at hand to play with here. From the Hilltop with its gentle and loving hippy vibe to Sector 6 with its raging drum and bass beats amidst post-dystopia, to the Wild West and the out right scariness of Dstrkt 5 clashing against the mellow vibes of the Psy Forest, but everybody loves Trenchtown and the Lion’s Den at the end of the day.
The mask man did not step forward and the citizens of Boomtown could feel the chaos of a leaderless society approach. They questioned his morals and many started to feel that it was in fact a better state of affairs under the rule of Comrade Jose…
I truly think the best bits of Boomtown are the quiet moments you uncover amidst the 60,000 visitors where you all sit around the massive fire pit at the Hilltop at the end of the night and talk to absolute strangers like they are friends, or making it a necessity to spend at least ten minutes a day at Tribe of Frog because it makes you feel immense or watching the sunset over the festival in perfect synergy. In fact, if we had to miss a sunset for a musical performance we were solemnly gutted.
At this year’s annual fair a new leader, the C.E.O of Bang Hai Industries will step to the forefront, telling citizens that who needs a leader anyway! We are all individuals and all that needs to be believed in is the free market…encouraging people to waste what they want and spend all they can. The C.E.O brings the new Bang Hai Tower to life – Boomtown’s first multimedia centre.
But these are things that people who visit Boomtown have come to know and love and yet we are on the precipice of evolution. Once known as a hardcore drug festival, the beauty of the event has taken over and with more of a clamp down on narcotics entering the festival, organizations like The Loop being proactive on site to raise drug awareness and frankly a more community feel to the festival, even though you still saw solitary people off their faces and in their own little world ‘livin’ large’ (or possibly spending a lot of money to miss the actual pleasures of the festival?) what you did see more and more of was families, a much more diverse demographic and a wonderful sense of coming together. This evolution has brought a huge benefit to the festival that struggled to cope with the bottle neck of attendees entering the festival, something that will no doubt be remedied next year as the festival has a notorious talent to find solutions and make plans that makes the ‘citizens of Boomtown’ at the forefront of all their innovations.
Over the weekend citizens were encouraged by BHI to consume, waste and be the individual within while sporting uniformed outfits. However, those with a nose for the truth and the energy to look a little deeper will be able to discover what is really ‘behind the mask’. A strong, intelligent and well teched out Hacker collective will be on a mission to take down the machine, the Bang Hai Tower and all its evil once and for all.
The music was top notch this year with the likes of Cypress Hill, M.I.A, The Specials, Ziggy Marley (see my interview here) and I also partook in the delights of Frank Turner (who appears to be exceptionally handsome), Beans on Toast (yes, that is a real artists name, check him out, he is pretty fabulous and has an admirable love for his life and wife that is well worth watching him chat on about live), Newton Faulkner, who was suggested to me as worth a see and now I own all his albums, and Arrested Development which fulfilled my young teenage 1990s heart.
Even though the ‘big’ performances were showstoppers, we also ended up playing a game that involved following the sound when we were walking around – if something sounded good, we followed it and discovered some of the most delightful artists that we would have never found had we set ourselves an agenda of only artists we knew. Quite often we ended up in the Floating Lotus up on the Hilltop – a small cafe in a tent that hosted some very small artists with big talent. One such artist was Anjelo Disons and his saxophone player who both seemed incredibly young but brought so much talent to the stage. The audience was thoroughly engaged in Disons sultry Michael Kiwanuka style vocals that poured out of him effortlessly in between equally as sultry saxophone interludes. Such a delightful find and many days were at Boomtown were filled with such talented artists in a collective right across the festival that gave festival-goers a pleasure around every corner they turned.
I give my best food recommendation to Bunnymans for making chili go inside half a loaf of bread that was carved out and topped with a massive piece of garlic bread. This made me so very happy….twice. And the duck burger place that makes the most delicious burgers known to man.
What I did note this year was a few banners dotted around the site that suggested the Bang Hai Industries would be redeveloping the festival next year and construction was underway shortly. A change is afoot for the next, and tenth, chapter of Boomtown. Next year’s citizens may very well be in for a treat and an unveiling of the evolution of Boomtown….
…and that sunset though….
Article by: Lady Wordsmith
Photos By: Eleanor Barnes (aka: Lady Awesome)
Credit: Chapter 9 – Behind the Mask Story Overview (ie: story in italics) supplied by Boomtown publicity.