Boomtown Fair has been a festival unlike any other for the past three years I’ve been and now in its ninth chapter it once again offered punters an incredibly varied line-up and the décor and setup to match.
As a festival, it has just about anything you could ask for with it’s detailed stages of all shapes and sizes playing everything from drum and bass, jungle, reggae, house, techno, garage, punk-rock, psy-trance, ska and dub among others. Music aside it’s the pop-up city that really marks it out from the crowd. A quiet corner of the English countryside in Winchester is turned into a fantasy world, where life back home can be left behind for four days and nights of mayhem.
It’s worth noting Boomtown isn’t for the faint hearted. Most people bear malice towards it when I mention I’m going as it’s often seen as quite ‘chavvy’, but there are so many of the same house festivals out there, each with the same tiring line-ups and minimal effort put into the production. Boomtown is different from other festivals in that it focuses primarily on the set design and production value than the music. Each of the eleven different districts were buzzing with every fine creative detail pored over.
The Banghai Towers served as Downtown’s key attraction, rising out of the ghettos of Dstrkt 5, Barrio Loco and Chinatown. TV screens spread messages to the masses and it made for a remarkable sensory overload at every glance. The Exit Records takeover on Sunday delivered an impressive selection of forward-thinking drum and bass. dBridge, Alix Perez, Skeptical, Fracture and SP:MC stuck by the label’s sound with a relentless back to back mix that just seemed to build and build.
Sector 6 in the far North-East corner of the pop-up city captivated crowds with stunning architecture and pyrotechnics to match. The Shogun Audio crew didn’t struggle to hold a huge crowd and kept things rolling with SpectraSoul showcasing new album material being the particular highlight.
Tucked away in a valley at the north of the site, the Lion’s Den was surrounded by a hill of grass and trees that gave it a welcoming atmosphere during the daytime. The bill here was heavy on dub and reggae and there was enough space to relax with your mates whilst listening to the music. Cypress Hill stole the show on Friday night with “Insane In The Brain” sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Watch Cypress Hill on the Lion's Den stage at Boomtown Fair 2017
Away from the larger stages, there are countless smaller venues scattered around the festival, each with their own décor and lively atmosphere. Each venue is committed to helping you leave behind normality and become part of the Boomtown world. At each turn, performers roam in character and the storyline pops up with no warning. The Grandma’s Living Room proved to be a regular stop-off for our group with the many Grandmas’ spinning a funky selection of disco classics alongside tea and biscuits.
Boomtown’s Drug Awareness and Harm Reduction campaign had been a major focus ahead of the event this year. On top of the security and policing methods to keep drugs out of the festival, Boomtown created pre-event drug awareness education on their website, employed trained drug workers in the campsites provided by Chill Welfare, as well as partnering with harm reduction and safety testing not-for-profit, The Loop. It was a highly successful debut with the organisation breaking their own records and testing over 1,100 samples, as well as offering their one to one awareness intervention and provided vital information on harmful drugs in circulation for the festival to share publicly.
Although Boomtown faced issues with lengthy queues due to wet weather leading up to the event, the resounding feeling afterwards is that once again an incredible time was had and that the production, the music, the shows, the sets and the scenery did not disappoint. The days are already counting down to the 9th - 12th August 2018 for Chapter 10: ‘The Machine Cannot be Stopped’.
Re-experience Boomtown Chapter 9: 'Behind the Mask' with the official 2017 after-film by watching the video
Tickets go on sale at 7pm on Wednesday 1st November via www.boomtownfair.co.uk