We’ve broken into Chaka Khan with everyone else. All permissions granted by Shy FX, somewhere up in the District 6 Tower, the old school DJ feeding classics to the surge below.
“Ain’t nobody, loves me better,” collectively spills into the air, spiralling around Boomtown Fair, which was built in a meteor crater. Hold on that can’t be true. That’s what a man with steampunk goggles and no shoes kept telling me on Sunday night. Certainly we are in a bowl-valley. Certainly the music swirls and kicks out into the air. Definitely he should put some shoes on.
Behind the Mask
For me, a person filtering up through my 20’s via a sugerpaper mix of confused opinions and alcohol and the odd drug, I thought Boomtown would be a night themed festival. But it turns out days happen here as well.
Impromptu performances pockmark the party. They’re aimed at building this year’s story, ‘Behind the Mask,’ where a new hope has dawned on Boomtown, driven by the Mysterious Masked Man, revolution and the idea of a better world. It’s another reason to dance under the lights, knitting the whole place together. You get the sense money is spent here. That this isn’t just a corporate money making gig, like T-in the park or V-Festival. Boomtown fair is wrapped in culture, through the Psy woods and inside the Inconvenience store you are immersed.
This summer Front has been to some of the nation’s most famous festivals. But the fact is that Boomtown beats them all.
The Perfect Antidote
Micky and Lauren haven’t missed one for seven years. “It’s a calendar event for us,” Micky says. “Every year it obviously gets bigger and the theme changes, but they’ve managed to keep it the same somehow, which is why we keep coming back.”
Lauren is nursing her rollup back to life with another rizla. “Can you see anyone here that is judging or not just being themselves?” she asks, looking at the papers. The answer is no. (Apart from the actors, obviously)
In a time of gymnetically modified twats (GMTs) and Donald Trump’s Twitter account, Boomtown is the perfect antidote to a society sick with pretensions. People say it’s an escape from reality but surely dancing, being part of a collective conscious of old fashioned happiness, is more real than scrolling through Instagram?
Of course, you can find this atmosphere in organised fields around the country, but it feels like Boomtown is leading the way.
Maybe it’s because all of my teenage mistakes and adolescent triumphs played out to the sound of drum and bass, so listening to Friction, at Sector 6, came with a dose of nostalgia on the Saturday night.
No Tired Corporations
Really, though, it’s the lack of tired corporations on show at a festival big enough to sell out. The ultra-chilled Speakers Corner where they tell tales of the anarchist Hippy Convoy before the sun goes down and the lights come up. Those lights, red, pink and blue, burn on 20 stages, set up like rigs from the ‘free party’ scene. And Boomtown started as pretty much that itself, in Bristol, before it scaled up and parked in on the hills of Hampshire.
The one thing that has changed is the price.
Tickets went upwards of £200 this year, and there were plenty of grumbles from regulars who wondered if they were being priced out of their favourite weekend. However, organisers did offer a split payment (50/50) option so it seemed like crying over spilt milk.
When it comes to it, you can see the re-investment in the movie set districts alone, and £200 is less than a weekend no sleeper in any quiet English town.
Is Boomtown worth the money? We certainly think it is.