Review: Boomtown Fair 2015

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No festival a reviewer for SOTONIGHT has attended matches Boomtown in terms of the amount of thought and effort that has gone into the Festival.

This is beautifully reflected in the aesthetics and experience you get from the world the organisers have created for your exploration. This isn’t immediately evident on arrival, you could be forgiven for feeling like you’re arriving at just another camping weekender, however on taking a wander round the different districts of the fictitious town, you realise you’ve entered a world of hedonism and escapism comprised of an amazing mish-mash of different movie sets tied together by Boomtown’s dystopian narrative.

Describing all of these areas would be more worthy of a book than a review, however a new feature for this year worthy of note is the spectacular centrepiece of the DISTRKT5 area, known as the Bang Hai Palace. Referred to in the festival programme of propaganda as “a symbol of hope and truth, a glorious reminder of what we can and will achieve”, this palatial scaffold structure is exactly the type of EDM spectacular that is so often attributed with contributing to the decline of nightclub culture. In the context of Boomtown however I could almost see the whole structure being an ironic take on this, especially given all the club style micro-venues waiting to be discovered in the festival’s winding streets. In fact it probably doesn’t even go as deep as that, it’s probably just a testament to the organisers making sure there’s something to suit every taste. Either way, it’s big, there are lazer beams, and fire, lots of fire!

Before my first visit to Boomtown I had heard rumours of it being a messy festival of extreme excess. Whilst there were one or two people who had shall we say, overdone it a little, there was nothing compared to the sort of scenes you get shortly after sunrise at Glastonbury’s stone circle. On the organisational side of things I found the capacity compared to the space and layout excellent, never once queueing, struggling to move through crowds or feeling claustrophobic. This is even despite the fact that the areas of Boomtown include amazing tight little streets lined with quirky shops and hidden venues; you can choose to lose yourself in these immersive little corridors but if you need to get from A to B on the sprawling site, they don’t become pinch points since there are plenty of different routes to take.

The Lions Den was a standout stage, having moved from its previous treelined corridor to an enourmous bowl shaped hill, forming a natural ampitheatre. It boasted a spectacular façade in the form of an Aztec temple, as well as a powerful soundsystem that really immersed you in bass. Matisyahu’s performance there generated an electric atmosphere thanks to his simple melodies, layered harmonies and spacious mixes, with plenty of room for delightful dub delays.

You’d think performing to a large group of slightly delicate human beings on a Sunday afternoon would be hard work but when Bristolians Cut Capers took to the Town Centre stage it was as if they turned the crowd back up to Friday levels. This was all thanks to their full horn section, beautiful melodies, precise flows and feel-good jump up rhythms.

The world of Boomtown is immersive and convincing, and the parties run late and loud. From Gypsy-punk to Dancehall to Psytrance, the music policy is seriously eclectic. As long as you remember that their music license only runs until midnight on the Sunday night you will not be disappointed by a visit to Boomtown Fair.

BoomTown Fair will return for Chapter 8 on 11th – 14th August 2016 at the Matterley Estate, Hampshire. Tickets go on sale on 3rd November via www.boomtownfair.co.uk/tickets

8.0 Another world
  • Communication 8
  • Travel to/from 8
  • Festival Experience 9.5
  • Toilets 7
  • All weather planning 7
  • Mobile Phone Reception 7
  • Creative Content 10
  • Lineup 9
  • Family Friendly 8
  • Disabled Access 7
  • Traders 8
  • Merchendise 6
  • Food 7.5
  • Bars 7
  • Cleanliness 8
  • Size/Scale 9
  • After-hours Entertainment 8
  • Value for Money 9
  • Technical Specification 9
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Lighting/pyro 9
  • Green/Recycling 8
  • Sponsors/Branding 7
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About Author

Dunstan is an Acoustical Engineering graduate from the University of Southampton. Whilst he's not helping get Wind Farms through planning applications, managing a band or snowboarding, he takes care of Press matters for SOTONIGHT.

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