As festival season draws firmly to a close, with our brains finally unscrambled from the carnage, it seems about time we reflect on some of our highlights from over the past few months. Looking back over a madness-packed summer, needless to say that within our most memorable endeavours is the ever-unparalleled beauty of Boomtown Fair.
While we spent a fair chunk of time hanging out in Boomtown’s flagship hip hop venue down in the Barrio Loco district, make no mistake that there was hip hop to be found in almost every corner of this temporary wonderland. As we’d observed before we’d even made it into the madness, Boomtown has always boasted a pretty much unrivalled lineup. While the musical artists it draws in are, in our eyes undeniably second-to none, there is no doubt that the depth of what brings Boomtown firmly into the festival hall of fame surpasses the bounds of the music it hosts. It’s offerings expand proudly into the realms of spoken word, theatre, comedy and beyond, to the immersive storyline and the A.M.I app—another element of the game Boomtown presents—acting as an (arguably ironic) nudge to consider the role portable devices play in our lives.
There’s something inherently resilient about Boomtown, too. While many festival goers (or not, as the case was) woke up devastated on that Wednesday morning to find out Boardmasters had been cancelled; 65,000-odd Boomtown attendees, UKHH team included, woke up gassed, ready to head to the South Down’s National Park in Winchester, where Boomtown would continue in spite of the storm headed our way. And hit us though it did, the storm had little against the determination and pure exhilaration of everyone who makes Boomtown what it is. Despite tents being blown away, stages being temporarily shut down, and a rumour spreading that we’d all be sent home from the site on a day when the winds hit hardest: the show continued, and somehow, yet again, exceeded expectations.
We entered Boomtown with a busy list of things to do and acts to see across the five days we were there. Unsurprisingly, although ambition is key and we won’t blame ourselves for trying, we didn’t make it to everything on that list. Set clashes and the cross-festival trek aside, when you’re in an environment in which every corner you turn is like opening a hidden door in the labyrinth, productivity is a difficult one to reach. That being said, amongst a whole load of pleasant surprises found throughout our stumbling’s, we still made it to a chunk of what we intended to initially. Here’s just a few of our highlights from the long weekend:
Radio 1Xtra Takeover at Poco Loco
This was an important one. As a member of Boomtown’s music programming team said in an interview prior to the festival, “1Xtra is all about emerging talent, breaking new artists and staying true to culture”. The takeover was the first of its kind for the festival and a pretty golden way to open Poco Loco on its first day of music.
Two legends in the game, holding themselves a rain-defiant crowd with sounds ranging from jungle and dnb, through to tracks from some of the pioneers of UK hip hop; all hosted by the Godfather himself. Say no more.
The Age of L.U.N.A at Bandstand
A personal favourite for some of us at UKHH HQ, we were pleasantly surprised to see The Age of L.U.N.A (Living Under No Authority) on the lineup this year. We made it down to their short but sweet set at the Bandstand.
Adam and Cuth at Croaker Club
In a similar vein to the aforementioned Age of L.U.N.A, Adam and Cuth are a name we were excited to see as we scrolled through the lineup. We found the pair in a small, dusty venue in Copper Town that goes by the name of Croaker Club. As expected, they were dope. They released a new album earlier this year, too. Check it.
Para Fiction and Yert Gang at The Flying Moustache
Feelings of genuine sorrow for the stewards at this one; a Para Fiction set is never a tame one. Here’s the young and gifted BADOR on stage with them during their set.
High Focus Takeover at Poco Loco with slowthai
There’s no doubt this all-evening High Focus takeover was a key element of many hip hop heads’ weekends; comprised of appearances from Molotov, DJ Sammy B-Side, the newly signed CMPND, Ramson Badbonez, Onoe Caponoe, Dabbla, Baxter, Dike and The Four Owls, followed by a shut-down set by slowthai. Carnage doesn’t do it justice.
That’s just a tiny portion of what we caught across the weekend. Beside the disappointment brought by Lauryn Hill, who showed up over an hour late to her own set, there are some other highlights we’d be foolish not to mention. These include watching the master of shit chat, Mike Skinner, as The Streets, climb into the waterfall on the Lions Den stage on Saturday; seeing the legends that are Salt-n-Pepa pay a strong tribute to the 90’s at Town Centre on Sunday, as well as an innumerable range of acts from the UK and overseas. There’s nothing quite like it. Nice one, Boomtown. Until next year.