We told Boomtown we’d write about the festival after we got back. As reviews are played out, we’ve opted for rambling accounts of our personal experiences and who we linked up with instead…
After such a long stretch of sustained Mediterranean warmth this summer that it’s seemed a bit silly to refer to it as ‘a heatwave’ rather than a symptom of a complete and radical climate shift that will probably spell everyone’s doom in the near future… it finally pissed it down on Boomtown.
Much as any sign that maybe England was still England and the end of days was less nigh should have seemed like a good thing, myself and 60,000 or so Boomtown ticket holders would probably all have been down to move the apocalypse forward a day or two on seeing the weather forecast for the fair.
In a testament to this year’s slogan ‘The Machine Cannot Be Stopped’ though, the kind of rain that soaks you to the skin in under a minute, didn’t really do shit all to put a dampener on Boomtown (and Boomtownees) being completely fucking nuts.
Having arrived on the Thursday at the wrong side of the site, on a sleep deprived, solo mission and already done the confused get-your-bearings bit of the festival before camera-compatriot and fellow UKHH festivaltwat, Dfacer, showed up out of nowhere attached to a roaming friend… It was a source of deep joy to see he’d stacked himself on the way in and caked his only pair of jeans in mud. With Dylan looking like I felt (after the rookie error of going hard on the first night combined with old man tiredness levels) we headed out to get drenched on the way to the vaguely mysterious Boomtown springs. Strong start for UKHH fam.
It’s worth a big shout out and thank you to Boomtown family for putting us up in the swanky end of town! Particularly as mud levels by Friday on the rest of the site were already getting messy, the spaciously camped Boomtown Springs campsite stayed pretty solid throughout.
Other things worth a quick note for anyone considering going bougie next year: Boomtown Springs included – its own club with dancing cages and DJ booth in the sun roof of a pink stretch limo, separate bar and food vendors, not getting your tent robbed, A SWIMMING POOL FFS, slightly cult-like ‘immersive camping’ actors dressed all in white, playing lawn games and raucously compering bizarre beauty pageants through the day, a tonne of clean showers AND THE CLEANEST TOILETS I’VE EVER SEEN. I’ve genuinely been sitting here considering whether to embed a picture of the toilets into this article. My toilet at home has def never been as clean as the toilets in Boomtown Springs.
This would all have been a dope way of refreshing on day one, but a ticking clock on shit to do, put a cork in any of that. Thankfully very close by, scene legend/Boomtown veteran/funniest man in UK Hip Hop; Dr Syntax had just started playing. Dfacer put on shorts so he looked less like an elephant had shat on his legs, drinks got necked and we hotfooted up the hill, not quite yet in the swing of humaning like proper humans.
Cue Mr Whompy. To anyone who has been to Boomtown… at some point you’ve definitely stopped to have a skank at Mr Whompy. Placed less in a particular district than as an un-ignorable distraction on your way between things, Mr Whompy is one of many examples why Boomtown’s staging of its acts is innovatively brilliant. Whoever’s idea it was to put a set of decks in a normal sized, brightly coloured ice cream van and then rig it with a smoke machine and sound system heavy enough to fill a medium to large club, deserves a medal. Aided by a hyper dance troupe of uniformed ravers in Mr Whompy beanies pulling in people and getting them moving, you’ll pretty much never pass the van and not see a contingent having a stomp.
Syntax, who played a marathon of sets at this year’s Boomtown, clocking a ridiculous 4 performances across 5 days on Boomtown’s different stages, absolutely murdered bars duties in the van. Situated looking happy as Larry, as a floating face on the microphone visible through the front window and not skipping a beat, presumably he must have been at least fairly uncomfortable. As busting round the side of the van revealed, due to being a pretty lanky dude, he was killing the whole set while knelt down on the floor in a pair of wellies. Serious endurance props.
After a performance mixing some familiar bars and signature instrumentals with some more than competent freestyling and some rave-compatible beats with added WHOMP, we milled around at the back of a line of people queueing for hugs and selfies at the barrier. After understandably being mistaken for members of aforementioned selfie-gang and yelling difficult to hear UKHH introductions while stood directly under a formidable Whompy speaker, we corralled Doc Sinners to some nearby woods to get some bars shot.
Meeting artists whose music you’ve listened to forever is unpredictable. Some basic rules of thumb: A) Try not to be so hung over that your demeanour resembles a ghost with anxiety issues B) Try not to over-fanboy/blabber about your favourite songs. And most importantly C) Whatever your actual job is… do that.
With rules A) and B) broken in the short walk to the forest area across from Mr Whompy, it was a good thing that (as expected from an MC who doesn’t take himself remotely seriously) Syntax was a chill, friendly guy with a relaxed approach to whatever we were about to do and chatted amiably about Boomtown and hip hop.
The Breaking of Rule C:
Many years ago, before UKHH content became the finely oiled machine it now is, Dfacer once started filming a 20-minute interview with an artist and then realised there was no memory card in the Camera. Then proceeded to stand there for 20 minutes pretending to film. Which has led to the phrase ‘Pulling a Dylan’ occasionally being used to refer to completely idioting a technical situation.
It’s worth noting at this point if you haven’t been, that ‘Boom’town, is INSANELY LOUD, which from a technical point of view when trying to get a pro-sounding live audio take is a bit of a challenge. What you can’t tell from what looks to be a quiet wooded area with meandering festival goers from the finished video… is that there were about 3 soundsystems close enough to produce a wall of sound that almost drowned out the 2 JBL Xtremes at Benny Huge’s feet. After fumbling to get kit linked up less than capably and getting a mic level, I declared myself good to go and Syntax effortlessly dropped some fire.
With head contentedly nodding to the bars in my headphones and eye fixated on making sure levels weren’t clipping, Syntax had got more than half way through a perfect take before I noticed that the big red record button had at no point been pressed. Realising that I was in the middle of pulling a Dylan, I briefly considered going full Dylan and pretending nothing had gone wrong, before immediately realising that as Syntax was nailing it like a pro there wouldn’t actually be any excuse for a second take.
With panic induced decisiveness, I made up a blatently obvious lie about the recorder cutting out and embarrassedly interrupted him mid flow. Oh yeh… Rule D) Generally try to avoid walking into shot and telling someone to stop rapping for no good reason if at all possible. On the awkwardness scale it ranks somewhere in between trying to shake hands with a fist bump and that time when you accidentally called your Year 6 teacher ‘Mum’.
Sinners, being an easy going dude, blatantly didn’t actually give a toss and was fine with shooting another take. Nailed it in one go. As he was presumably about to the first time.
Relieved at having something sick recorded without further difficulties, we had a quick chat with Syntax on the tunes of his we’ve had on repeat this year, his Rappertag he shot for UKHH years back and an upcoming EP in the pipeline. (Keep eyes/ears peeled for that y’all.)
Syntax ambled off to rest his achey knees and a group of wide-eyed, glittery-faced gents jumped in to ask ‘What’s going on here?’ indicating towards the half packed up camera and JBLs, so we said we’d just filmed a bars video for Dr Syntax. As they didn’t seem to get their heads around this, we corrected and admitted that actually we’d just filmed a snuff film.
Judging by their surprise we gauged that maybe this was too far, and a compromise between the two was needed. I amended that actually we had filmed a bars video with Dr Syntax. And then killed him at the end.
They seemed satisfied with this and wished us well. And with the realisation that dialogues like that were an indicator that I was starting to human at my normal level, I was left wishing I’d been that good at conversation while Doctor Syntax had been around. We no doubt would have become best rap-friends and I could have gone to live in his and Pete Cannons’ attic.
Thus ends the shambolic segment of UKHH’s Boomtown content mission.
@Dfacer – Not shambolic by association bro. All me.
@Dr Syntax – Quite possibly only given any thought to proceedings being shambolic if you happened to read this piece. Bate.
@The word Shambolic– Apologies for over use but you’re a good word and you don’t get the recognition you deserve.
@Boomtown – No snuff films were shot on site.
Tune in for ‘3 Days of Boomtown – Day 2’ very soon.
The rambling will be of the same calibre but there’ll also be a sick music video what we done shot.