Boomtown, in Winchester’s Matterley Bowl, is the perfect pairing of utterly insane standards of creative, outrageous production, and a rough and ready music policy that is sure to have you doing bass-induced squats all weekend.
Musically speaking, Boomtown offers an eclectic variety of all things low frequency, accompanied by hard-working, energising live bands, and a bit of house thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, one of the main headliners, Barrington Levy, had his visa denied. However, this twist of fate turned out to be fantastic for the crowd at the epic, fire-breathing Mesopotamian temple that is the Lion’s Den. He was replaced by an incredibly talented dub reggae band known as The Skints, who allowed their stunning multi-instrumental lead singer Marsha to absolutely shine all over the stage. Shy FX and David Rodigan tore up the grassy dancefloor in true badman style on the same stage, while Caravan Palace presented a tour de force of live electro-swing at the Town Centre stage (featuring its very own Post Office for all your communication needs) on the last night. Mr. Scruff also represented his eccentric, sunshine vibes over an all day long set in the expansive, impressively dressed Boombox arena, purveying a perfect blend of disco and classic world music tracks on the hottest day of the festival.
We counter-acted the heavy injection of bass with a bit of Will Varley in the Floating Lotus tent, enjoying the sublime sounds of his folky, singer-songwriter vibe, whilst drinking ginger tea and replenishing our minds. Dirty Dike and the High Focus crew provided a heavy dose of high quality UK hip hop on the Friday night, including the intricate sounds of Jam Baxter and the Four Owls.
Still, describing Boomtown without waxing lyrical about the production would be a true crime. An unbelievable amount of effort goes into constructing a highly creative, multi-district town, accommodating a luscious, highly friendly crowd of 50’000 fabulously dressed citizens. Each zone offers a completely unique, intricate vibe, with secret bars, massive elaborate stages and walkabout performers (in unbelievable outfits), all combining into one ecstatic orgy of festival excellence. From Mayfair, to Downtown, to the Hidden Woods, to the Wild West and China Town, each area brings its own rude little vibe to comprise one hell of an electrifying city.
After meeting the 1920s dream of a female that is Sparkles Galore in the elite speakeasy bar Charlie Brown’s, we spent time drinking whiskey with a bunch of no-good hoodlums while watching a seriously saucy lady taking off all of her clothes, playing roulette, and revealing our deepest, darkest secrets in the backstage interrogation room.
We were also completely astounded to witness a water-tight car being driven by an entirely jokes fully submerged gentleman, using scuba equipment to breathe, surrounded by live goldfish fluttering around his vehicle, driving around the festival honking his horn and blaring the light system. This was perhaps equivalent to the gigantic, mechanical fire-breathing dragon in the centre of Downtown. Even these concepts are only a minor sample of the spectacularly creative production on display all over the Matterley Bowl.
But obviously, an article about living the high life at Boomtown would be completely pointless without a section on Boomtique, the utterly fabulous and ostentatious boutique camping area. Featuring a luxe beautician tent, a bar run by the most sexual servers dishing out the best frozen (and strong) cocktails available in the festival, and a lot of hot tub nudity. Boomtique is truly the place to be if you want to experience the luxury side 0f Boomtown in all its glory. And if I'm being honest, a rowdy, but gorgeous little festival like Boomtown is best done from within the confines of a seriously luxurious tepee. Obviously.
If you’ve ever heard some of the urban tales about Boomtown, it’s highly possible that you’ve only heard the negative, class-based opinions of most likely overly middle-class festival goers. However, if you get over the pretensions of social strata and surface perceptions, you’ll find that this festival is full to the brim of friendly, sexy, enjoyable characters, an incredible and unique line up, and some of the most creative production this side of Secret Garden Party. The vibe - visually, sonically, and socially - is completely unique, and one hundred percent worth checking out if you enjoy bassy, fun and flirty festivals.