For one weekend, and one weekend only, the small village of Winchester was thrown into the ethereal realm and became a haven for all festival goers in the wondrous location known as Boomtown. Boomtown was cut into several districts, each bearing their own fantastical and unique designs, intricate and well developed characters and music – varying from the technologically advanced Chinatown where drum and bass sets were blasted to the background of Nintendo 64 stage designs, through to the reggae roots of Lion’s Den whereby fine artists such as Stephen Marley would grace the stage to the backdrop of the beaming sun and to the swarms of fans chilling and enjoying his rendition of his father, the late and great Bob’s ‘Three Little Birds’ on the hill banks.
It’s hard to pick apart the most iconic and standout memories from the festival, as cliché as it sounds, each minute of Boomtown (apart from the 30-40 minutes you spending hanging every morning in your tent and questioning the meaning of life before getting back on it) was wondrous. But if there was one DJ who stood out for me, it would be none other than DJ EZ who tore Chinatown a new one by throwing up some absolutely old-school beats with touches of modernity peeking through the music. He was a treat for Chinatown’s inhabitants, yet they had already been treated so highly in this oriental palace with robot sex shows as well as a bundle of various red light district themed shops and tattoo parlours.
As press pass holders we arrived at Boomtown a day before the festival, so we fully expected to have a couple of beers and head to bed, and wake up fresh for the festival the day after. That did not happen. Instead, venturing through the maze of tents in the campsite, we stumbled upon an army tent, doors flapped wide open and music pouring through the seams. We had found, Larry’s Lounge (run by the same guys who ran Bad Apple Bar superbly), which soon turned out to the best place for a chill after a night of raving. The crowd was good in there, Stan along with Havier and his band of cohorts, threw a fantastic atmosphere where you could explore or restore in a candle lit shrine of music, featuring several superb musicians playing a bit of everything from funk to jazz all night. These two genres of funk and jazz dominated the majority of Oldtown, whereby several heroes were giving it all for the crowd – whether it was Spiderman on electric guitar caressing a beautiful solo out of it, or Super Mario slapping the bass so damn hard even Flea would be proud, each artist turned it up a notch.
When you look back on an event like this, it’s the little moments that remain vivid in your memory. One such moment was on the penultimate night, music had finished at 4 am on routine, but myself alongside several other B-towners were still looking for a party. What started as a group of ravers whistling a few songs and humming them back and forth, quickly exploded into a group of 40 huddled in a circle in Wild West, screaming our hearts out for hours on end while the sun slowly rose on our backs. As the sun rose, slowly so did the inhabitants of the Wild West, whom crawled out of their taverns with shotguns in hand and a pint in the other. These cowboys and cowgirls found in the Wild West belonged to the Revolution, and they alongside several other activists in other districts were playing the role of fighting against the so-called ‘Glorious Leader’ Comrade Jose.
Walking into Whistlers green was like taking a leaf out of village life – whereby several dwellers forged bracelets from scratch and carved into wood, sat around friendship circles discussing various things from homeopathic healing through to meditation techniques. As you walk past Whistler’s Green, past the literal flaming dragon, you come across Sunrise festival, which lost its original location due to cost issues, but kindly Boomtown offered them a lot in their massive festival site.
While the grandiosity of the Palace Stage, was something to be greatly admired – for it had a magnificent lighting display that drew the crowd’s attention like moths to a flame, as well as being the largest stage in the festival; if I had to choose my favourite venues, it would have to be the array of Hidden and Secret forests dispersed in Boomtown. Each forest possessed a unique trait: the Psychedelic forest – as one can guess from the name was like exploring a mystical forest straight out of the Wizard of Oz, the Secret forest – was hard to find, only on the last night did we eventually find out, and finally the Hidden forest – was something spectacular, for your average oak tree forest had been converted into a flat out beach party, sand roamed the floors, while people grabbed their cocktails and enjoyed the reggae tunes.
Boomtown is a festival like no other, whereby it isn’t the artists’ timetables that structure the weekend, but one where you could easily not see a single artist and still have a magical time exploring the cracks and crevices of Boomtown’s diverse ecosystem. I knew this much the moment I walked into Oldtown, where one minute you’re raving with some granny’s in a what looks like a Pride and Prejudice book club gone seriously bad, and the next you’re down on your knees praying at the Church of the Sturdy Virgin. It’s these little things that make up Boomtown and separate apart from your average festivals thrown in the UK. It’s a place where travellers from far and wide, become acquainted with one another while starry eyed.
The Revolution Starts now…roll on Chapter 8!