Review: What Makes Boomtown Festival So Unique?


Friday saw Hallouminati take to the Mayfair bandstand which sits in the central walkway as you enter the festival. The six piece ensemble played their ragga punk to a skanking crowd, combining electric guitar with saxophones and Greek rembetiko vibes and delivering what they proudly describe as “deranged beats”. Ed Soloand Deekline brought the bass to Sector 6 for their opening show which was a big hit with the rave crowd who were ready for some heavy electronica to break in the weekend of partying.

But it was La Inédita who really stole the show on Friday. These guys are a Latin American band who play a fusion of chicha (traditional Peruvian cumbria) and dancehall. They took over Wild West‘s main stage, The Old Mines, and had every single person on their feet dancing like no one was watching.

However, those who went to see them were lucky to make it there unscathed as the bearded ladies of Wild West lured festival go-ers into their Pie ‘n’ Tash barber shop, ready to turn you into “one of them” – roughly translated as branding you with a darkly etched kohl beard covering your chin from ear to ear. Tread carefully!


Other high points from the weekend included Smokey Joe & The Kid who played the Town Centre Stage on Saturday afternoon. Their groovy melodies combined with hip hop and scratching bass echoed a show stopping performance from The Correspondants in the same spot a year before. House Gospel Choir impressed everyone by doing exactly as promised; fuelling familar house tracks with joyous harmonies that pumped the crowd full to the brim with energy ready for the Saturday night ahead. It’s unique to hear this blend of genres on stage and I think everyone would agree the atmosphere was nothing short of infectious. Definitely a highlight of the festival and one to catch again if you get the chance.

Ziggy Marley and The Specials headlined Trenchtown’s Lion Den on Saturday night. Being predominantly a reggae based stage, it’s good to have a lively headliner who can get everyone on their feet as the sun falls. AndThe Specials did exactly that. Opening with Ghost Town and working through Monkey Man and Message To You Rudy, they arguably out shone Madness who played the same slot back in 2016.

forest stage

Now onto to the psy trance. This is a genre that really divides groups! But it definitely makes up a big part of Boomtown. The Tribe of Frog forest always has the most incredible, mind blowing visual decorations which demand appreciation regardless of your musical taste. The workout pace and techno intensity is the best pick-me-up if you need a dose of pure energy on your way back from Trenchtown’s steady reggae rhythms. And who can say they aren’t intrigued by the prospect of a Secret Forest Party in the woods?

With a political vein running through the heart of Boomtown, it wasn’t surprising to see a “Thump A Trump” punch bag being wheeled around the festival. This art installation/mobile entertainment venture invited revellers top give Donald’s face their hardest slam. As you might imagine, it was a big hit and drew rings of crowds from far and wide, all keen to expel some targeted force.

One of the most impressive art installations was an entire troop of Mad Max inspired steampunk creatures, dipped in bronze, creeping around a deconstructed mechanical vehicle at The Old Mines stage in the heat of Sunday afternoon.

These slithery beings made up part of a procession that moved across the festival and were keen to point, beckon and swing themselves around their metallic contraption much to the intrigue of passing onlookers. One actor stood on top of the vehicle, rocking a cradle made of bones while other members of the group balanced on stilts wearing combat gear and bald head masks. It sounds weird, right? But that’s exactly what Boomtown is all about. Unleashing your creativity and experiencing something new.

Food-wise, the Duck Burger stand was widely discussed and the gourmet Hippy Chippy Van offered a budget friendly festival snack by doing something really simple, really well.

Although everything goes on until 4am on the Saturday and Sunday, it was noticeable how this was the peak time to see everyone out and at full power. If the curfew could be extended an hour or so longer next year, that would definitely be applauded judging by the amount of people still out on the city’s streets ’til the early hours.

Boomtown Fair has so much to offer for the ticket price you pay. Many festivals sit within the same cost bracket but offer just a couple of main stages next to fields upon fields of camping. Boomtown unveils an entire city made up of 12 districts, hosts music and theatre to suit every taste and will never leave you grumbling that there’s nothing to do or see. It’s a concentrated hub of creativity that just keeps giving and leaves everyone in attendance resolving to come back next year to continue their adventures.

All photo credit: Boomtown Fair