Boomtown 2017 – 97% fun, 86% safe

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Once again Boomtown has shown the world how to really ‘produce’ a festival.

As Rome announced during the stupendously amazing Sublime with Rome show on Sunday night – “You guys really know how to have a party – we just ain’t got nothing like this back in the States…”

The point is that for a festival to stand out from the crowd these days it has to be so much more than a few hundred bands playing on a few stages for three days.

There has to be an energy and the ever-present chance of discovering something amazing.

And there also has to be an edge.

A festival with a 100% clean health and safety certificate hanging above the door would be a sanitised affair lacking in sparkle.

And you know what – Boomtown positively radiates sparkle. It oozes from its vary pores.

That’s not to say it’s perfect – no event is.

When the queues start to form and the sun beats down as guests wait for the best part of the day to get in it’s easy to see why tempers will flair. And, quite rightly, those caught in the heat of the day with little information and even less in the way of water or shade, vented their anger with the organisation in no uncertain terms…although often with good humour…

But the real question is now about how Boomtown can find a way of dealing with this issue next year. Once the dust (and there was a LOT of dust by Sunday) has settled we’d like to see a full report on what went wrong and what steps might be taken to avoid a repeat. More entrances and more gate staff, facilities outside the gate, premium early-doors arrival tickets are all options.

As for the festival once things got underway – well we’ve said it before and we hope we’ll keep saying it – Boomtown manages to tread that really fine line between anarchy and organisation that puts smiles on the faces of both festival-goers and the local licensing team.

It’s not necessarily a festival that’s about big name acts.

Yes, it has its fair share – and it always seems to be able to pull in a few real gems that you will struggle to see elsewhere – but by and large it is a festival curated by people who like to ignore the mainstream taste-guru acts in favour of bands and performers who simply know how to entertain.

The phrase ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ could have been made for Boomtown.

Something old like Back to the Planet – one of the original free festival stalwarts whose live shows have grown in energy and power and now far surpass anything you will hear on their original studio releases from those halcyon days of the late 80s and early 90s.

Something new – such as Loyle Carner, this season’s must-have voice of the new generation. A genuine talent who is quietly building a fan base that will serve him well for decades to come as he explores the soulful side of hip-hop and gains critical acclaim with each new release and each new show.

Something ‘borrowed’ like the many songs that have been taken from the original and posthumous Sublime back catalogue to create the backbone of the Sublime with Rome live set. A set that is an incendiary powerhouse of classic tunes made infamous by a band whose lead singer just missed the 27 club by a mere three months following a tragic and fatal heroin overdose, but whose legacy and influence lives on. A band who reduced grown men in the audience to literal tears of joy for having had the chance to experience their music live for the first time.

Or something blue. And what could be bluer than the original Blues Brothers Band…or indeed the cheeky repartee of the Wurzels for that matter?

However – and it is a HUGE ‘however’ – Boomtown is an experience way beyond the music. It’s an interlocking series of fantasy islands. Worlds within worlds that connect with a chaotic storyline and are narrated by mad characters who live in both fantasy on-line worlds and in the flesh around every twist and turn of this labyrinthine maze of hedonism and excess.

At the gates to the Wild West two horses rear their hooves and kick the sky in the middle of a crowded street bordered by the shutter-boarded facades of spittoon-strewn bars and cowboy raves.

In the midst of a world of house and drum’n’bass held in place by walls made of stacked shipping containers a lone and heavily made-up accordion player adds the melody to a fearsome explosion of electronic rhythms that sees the packed afternoon crowd bewitched and baffled in equal measure.

And through every door and in every hidden corner, and from every balcony and through every dusty window, there’s another of Boomtown’s many hundred actors – each playing a part in a narrative that escapes logical description.

Boomtown people are crazy.

This is not a festival for the faint-hearted.

Boomtown people are kind and generous.

This is a not a festival for the greedy or the thoughtless.

Boomtown is for the freaks and the fools and the people looking for a genuine escape.

This IS a festival to remember – and if you can’t…well it’s probably because you were having too much of a good time.

Oh – and did we mention Beans on Toast needs a bigger stage next year…a MUCH bigger stage.


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