Boomtown is a kaleidoscope of colour, noise and mayhem. Arriving on the Wednesday before, because I was a member of staff there meant I had five days at this festival, which honestly, was too much for my brain and liver to handle.
Boomtown festival is set in Winchester where a powerful collective combination of reggae, roots, dub, drum n bass, ska, folk, world music, jungle, electro swing and dance hall make this festival one that suits many tastes. The festival is split into districts: Barrio Loco, Trenchtown, China Town, Mayfair Avenue, Old Town, Whistler’s green, KidzTown, Wild West and Dstrkt 5. With each district comes careful consideration and planning to make each area adorned with the correct decoration, staging and interactive actors giving the place a vibrant feel. I spent my days exploring the ins and outs of the festival, finding reggae stages in woods, going to a drumming class and seeing a piece of theatre. Nights off were spent; in a hidden casino through a telephone box- where a password was muttered to receive access (Yes I do know Charlie Chaplin), raving with “riot vans” and skanking to greats such as SerialKillaz, Andy C and LTJ Bukem, and jamming to Lee Scratch Perry and Gentlemans Dub Club. Andy C and GDC were highlights of my Boomtown experience because of how passionate the artists are towards delivering their music and how they used this to bring their audience alive.
Although the music, and the festival itself is fantastic, I’m afraid a large majority of the people there ruined it for me. Coming only to get absolutely waggammmad and not appreciating the effort the makers of the festival had done, really put me off. (Who cat calls during a theatre show?)
Despite publicising that this festival is “family friendly” which is true in reference to the sole town the kids are designated to, the rest of the festival I would say is not safe for children. Seriously, I have never seen so many people so out of it in one location for such a long period of time. I have been to many dance festivals and gigs, but here I was blown away. I was queuing up to lost property at midday to enquire about a phone and there was someone queuing up who had “powdered his nose” shall we say, very significantly, that it got to the point where he didn’t trust the staff members to return an ID he found. The domineering factor of this rash call that I have honestly decided to share with you all is, because also, on the first day the festival started, a young woman died of an overdose. Too much ketamine apparently, which is awful to have that sort of thing happen in life, yet alone at a festival. What was worse was the rest of the festival’s response to it.
Whilst serving drinks at the bar to punters, we had signs up broadcasting the incident and for others to be wary. Many people commented to me that: “the Ket I’m on is great; I don’t know what her problem was.” This further establishes the sort of attitude that many festival goers had at Boomtown. I am sure, when this festival first started out it had a positive, community vibe to the place, which like the festival in Isle of Wight, Bestival, still has now. However, people are becoming more stand offish, more private and more drug fuelled at this festival (even less friendly than Global gathering and Creamfields) meaning that despite all the fantastic music, various stages and complex designs, I will not be returning to this festival, which is a shame to be honest!