Boomtown Fair is just as tantalising and immersive as it advertises itself to be.
The festival website boasts psychedelic photos of exploding stages, actors and musicians all blended into a huge, chaotic melting pot which is near impossible to put together in your mind pre-arrival. For a first timer, you have no idea what to expect. But upon stepping foot through the city gates the entire concept becomes a great, technicolor reality and you realise you have entered the largest three dimensional, interactive theatrical set in the country. Here’s what you need to know…
There is an in depth story line running through the whole event. As members of the city, your leader is “Comrade Jose”, a corrupted dictator who forces district battles upon her people in order to provide entertainment for the masses. You are a member of the masses.
There is a revolution in motion and throughout the festival you can choose to be part of the uprising or follow your “Glorious Leader”.
Spot Big Brother-like posters and propaganda plastered to the walls of buildings beside symbols of political rebellion.
Spend hours wandering through the different districts exploring nooks and crannies, knocking on doors, pushing aside curtains, watching puppet shows, cabaret, music and even playing bingo to disco music in “Grandma’s Living Room”.
The Boomtown extravaganza is basically one big game. It feels like you’re living a real life Jumanji experience with no idea what secrets lurk behind those closed doors.
The festival is littered with actors who are interactive. There are pirates, sea creatures, safari hunters, policemen, guards and walking CCTV cameras on stilts. Wander up to an actor and they will stay in character, returning your challenges and questions with hillarious responses. This is live-in theater at it’s best. And the most impressive part is that this spectacle lasts the entire four days.
Those who attend Boomtown share the festival’s passion for theatrics and are more than happy to get into character as well. The quantity and calibre of dressing is always was second to none. Boomtown attracts exuberant, experimental peacocks who embrace the festival’s relentless passion for decoration.
The stages are something special. Framed by the most fantastic theatrical decorations, each one sits within a creative masterpiece which extends from all angles to become a crucial part of the festival in its own right.
The Lion’s Den stage is framed by gushing waterfalls either side, Bang Hai Palace is constructed by epic amounts of scaffolding that, as night falls, becomes invisible only to reveal a brilliant exploding light show raised high in the sky, visible from across the festival.
The Town Centre stage doubles up as a platform for the Town Crier to introduce acts and make announcements, turning the space into a multi-functional area that is intertwined with the festival’s dynamic story-line.
The Music: Top 3 Picks for this year
Although a near impossible feat, we selected our three of our favourite artists that played at this years event.
The Correspondents took to the Town Centre stage on Saturday afternoon with front man Mr Bruce throwing himself around to the music like the elastic, ballet dancing skeletal creature he famously becomes for every show. His erratic, robotic yet somehow elegant movements punctuated the hip hop electro swing sounds emitted by the band and channelled a special kind of energy to the crowd which magnetises ears and bodies into a Correspondent-induced frenzy. Hit after hit, the band just got better with every song, channelling an unrelenting power which left the crowd breathless on behalf of Mr Bruce who never seems to tire!
Barbarella’s Bang Bang
Performing bang in the centre of the walkway on Mayfair’s band stand stage, these guys were impossible to miss.
They demanded immediate attention with front woman Barbara kitted out in a gypsy military fusion outfit and plaited pig tails. Featuring band members of Italian, Russian, Latvian and Lithuania heritage their scattered origins are echoed in their eclectic sound. Rauling the crowd into a dancing, shaking frenzy it was a challenge in itself to keep up with the pure momentum of this performance. The fast paced, gypsy jazz infusion crosses so many genre borders the whole thing becomes and crazy, hazy experience (of the best kind). The Edith Piaf/Gwen Stefani weighted voice of front lady Barbara is playful, squeaky and rumbling all in one. The whole thing is super synchronised yet fearlessly experimental. If you’re not in the mood for dancing then give these guys a listen and they’ll be sure to change that!
Damian Marley has a lot to live up to for obvious reasons. And that he does. As the crowd gathered for his Sunday night headlining slot in The Lion’s Den the ambience was electric. Immediately he injected a ripple of energy into the crowd and everyone was on their feet. His rock infused reggae sound was polished and song after song delivered with passion and expert showman skills.
The Boomtown experience is a hundred separate performances happening in sync together, constantly, for three days. The seamless fluidity of the entire spectacle is something impressive to behold. Each door, each decoration and each stage is a fully invested project that gives 10/10 effort at immersing you in this live-in theatrical experience. Imagine the Shangri-La area of Glastonbury but extended for miles.
This is a festival that is not afraid to push the boundaries and challenge its punters.
Boomtown, you were one hell of a ride and there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing you again next year!