Event Preview: Boomtown ‘The Gathering’ (Matterley Estate; Wednesday 10th to Sunday 14th August 2022)

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Boomtown: A living theatre that ignites imagination and inspires a better world through connection, creativity and celebration.

This preview is a little delayed, however as this particular chapter of Boomtown Festival is unique in so many ways, it seemed worthwhile to wait a little longer, at least until everything had unravelled.

As the festival reached its maximum capacity in its last few years, attracting swarms of ravers to one of the biggest parties on earth, the owner of Boomtown had somewhat of an epiphany. After some contemplating, and adjusting to the inevitable changes brought about by COVID and visa restrictions, Boomtown once again made some unique and unprecedented decisions, decisions that make them once again trend setters in their field (excuse the pun).  It’s best put in their own words, under “a message from our programmers”:

When we relaunched chapter one and the new version of Boomtown two years ago, we made it very clear that we did not want to dedicate such a large portion of the budget to three acts that sit on top of a poster.  Instead, we wanted to spread it across all areas that make Boomtown unique, that was always our ethos, and we wanted to return to that. 

Alongside COVID affecting the industry to its maximum, the UK’s immigration and visa policy tightening, it makes sense that the organisers this year have opted to bring Boomtown back to its roots, minimising the festival to only a chunk of what its previous years had seen. Furthermore the messaging from the owners seems to show it’s an ethical choice too. This is exemplified in their bold move to not announce a single part of their line up til this week and refusing to pay extortionate amounts for headline grabbing acts. Meaning that ticket buyers had to rely on the ethos of the festival and buy tickets in good faith.

Boomtown catapulted the idea of a conceptual festival of living theatre – an entire world built within the festival walls, void of outsider influence and capitalism in the form of advertisements and a lack of any obvious sponsors – leaving only creative and artistic interpretations of what stages and festivals look like. 

Previous years hosted a myriad of stages such as: an actual Pirate Ship, The Job Centre, District 9, The Forbidden Forest, The Lion’s Den – concepts are all brought alive with the help of actors and actresses immersed in each borough. 

This year, they have rehashed the old premise that created the backbone of the festival’s concept, cutting out all of uptown to reimagine the heart of the festival in downtown only. (Previous years saw the extension of the festival to cover two huge chunks of space both up and down a large hill).

Now here we are: three days before they open their doors to a new town: the brand new Chapter One. They have released the line up – to mixed emotions. 

Personally, I am excited to see where their focus has remained on reggae, dub and ska (Gentleman’s Dub Club, Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Julian Marley, Dawn Penn, The Skints), which is something that felt central to the festival, as The Lion’s Den was the largest reggae stage in Europe, and had fears of being scrapped as it was located in the no longer with us Uptown.

As with tradition: there’s a fill of classic acts such as Arrested Development, Kool and the Gang. Electronic music is still central with FourTet and Altern 8, as well as contemporary voices in future sounds, R’n’B, Soul and more – such as Moonchild Sanelly and Koffee. Excitingly, they have a huge representation of global sounds with the likes of Ibibio Sound Machine, Afriquoi, Dele Sosimi and so much more

So all in all, our new Boomtown looks promising to provide an authentically creative, folky, exciting experience full of vivacious, vibrant and convivial characters, sounds and colours in every direction.

 

YOU CAN STILL BOOK YOUR TICKET/S AND PASSES FOR THE FESTIVAL FOLLOWING THIS LINK

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