Boomtown is a festival like no other; rather than being a collection of stages cobbled together, an entire city is curated – as vast as it is eccentric, with all festival goers becoming citizens. Split into eleven districts, each area has its own distinct thematic identity, filling the festival with an eclectic array of characters and music. One of the largest districts, Trenchtown, becomes the ultimate celebration of reggae and soundsystem culture, attracting the best artists from reggae, dancehall and jungle. Boomtown 2016 featured Damian Marley headlining at the Lion’s Den, with this year looking to be an equally electrifying experience – Ziggy Marley, another of Bob’s kin, will be making an appearance, bringing one of the founding fathers of reggae to Boomtown. Over in the Wildwest district, a Boomtown regular is reappearing this year; British folk singer Jay McAllister, better known by his stage name Beans on Toast, is returning to the Old Mine stage with his modern take on folk, covering a range of topics from politics to drugs to love.
Boomtown doesn’t stop with creation of towns. Since it was first run in 2009, there’s been an interactive, immersive story that runs throughout the festival, linking each of the districts to an overarching narrative. Each year brings a new chapter to the ongoing story. Now in its 9th instance, this year’s chapter “Behind the Mask” continues from last year’s “The Revolution Starts Now”. Back then, we were told of how the then Mayor, Comrade Jose, attempted to hold onto her power of the city through invasive propaganda that was evident in all districts and performances, trying and failing to prevent the “masked man” from overthrowing her government. As a Boomtown citizen, events from the story unfold around you, with rebel groups having previously driven through the towns, physically clashing with pro-government forces until the downfall of Jose herself on the final night of the 2016 fest. This year, Boomtown citizens will experience the aftermath of a revolution under the anarchy brought on by the “masked man”.
Boomtown is unmatched in the lengths it goes to in creating an entire city for festival goers to immerse themselves in, and with the lineup and towns getting bigger and bigger each year, Boomtown 2017 is set to be the greatest yet.
Boomtown this year takes place between the 10th and 13th of August at the Matterly Estate in Hampshire, with performing artists including Loyle Carner, Mike Love, Monki, Beans on Toast, The Specials, MIA, and Ziggy Marley. Tickets are available here.
By Tony Cupac