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Experiencing Boomtown: A Remarkable Fusion of Music, Art and Community

The rumours are true; Boomtown is in a league of its own. Having been to many festivals over the years, I can say that almost all of them have been filled with an abundance of joy, a few have left life-long memories, but I can confidently say that only Boomtown stands as a truly exceptional experience. You can’t purely describe it as a festival, it is a tapestry of music, art and energy. 

For those of you who are new to Boomtown, it stands as a festival well-known for its drum and bass, theatrical set design and immersive storyline. Each year Boomtown picks up the story where it was left the previous year, with 2023 being named as ‘Chapter Two: The Twin Trail’ (to read more about the storyline see here). 

As entry queues are often chaotic, it is something that a lot of us have become accustomed to and expect. However, Boomtown has cracked the code; the entry was seamless and efficient, a demonstration of their forward-thinking approach. 

Opening Ceremony

An emotional opening ceremony kickstarted the journey, with a performance of contemporary dance, speech, video and bespoke music. A goal to ‘celebrate the coming together of communities to create, connect, celebrate and enjoy the city’ was beautifully fulfilled. From this moment there was an undeniable euphoria amongst the crowd, and it became clear that Boomtown was a living, breathing community and was set out to be an experience beyond imagination.

The city is made from 6 main districts. Each district plays its own part within the ever-evolving storyline, with its own characters, countless number of venues, and theatrical spectacles; a police station, post office, launderette, convenience store… and everything else you’d expect to find in a town, with an added touch of crazy.

Boomtown has redefined my idea of ‘something for everyone’. Typically, punters attend festivals to hear music, spend time with friends and have a dance. It is not often that you get the chance to experience guided intimate breathing, be hired to work at a hotel, climb through a washing machine, dance around a tribal fire, act in a film, be part of a jury, dance till 4am, ride bikes not made to be ridden, sing donk with elderly women, watch a dragon get pied, be invited to join a cult, and listen to psytrance in an igloo… all in one day.  Nudity is met by the crowd with a nod of approval, and the concept of “free spirits” takes on a tangible form as people from all walks of life come together in perfect harmony.

The festival’s most remarkable trait is its unpredictability, where storylines unfold by day and intimate venues come alive by night. As you navigate the maze of Boomtown, every corner holds the promise of wonder before allowing a catch of breath before diving back into the kaleidoscope of sensation.

The festival’s immersive nature isn’t just about the visual and auditory spectacle – it’s about how it makes you feel. As you journey from one stage to another, you’re swept up in a whirlwind of emotions – euphoria, awe, and camaraderie. The feeling of being surrounded by thousands of like-minded souls, fills your heart with a sense of belonging that goes beyond words. It’s a sensory overload that somehow feels like a reset for the mind and spirit.

While Boomtown was difficult to fault, we did find that the balance of crowd control often felt out of proportion and poorly planned. We experienced oversensitive security and inconvenient traffic control at spectrum 360, where there were large queues the entire weekend, despite there being significant voids and sparseness within the crowd. Whereas there was no security managing the crowd in most of the smaller intimate stages, despite there being large names, at times leading to an uncomfortable and claustrophobic environment. 

We found the story trail satisfyingly challenging; it seems as though to dig deeper into the storyline you must be fully committed to exploring every single door, poster and actor. It was something that reminded me of past experiences within escape rooms…detail matters. Although everyone encourages to dive deeper into this fascinating rabbit hole, I feel as though it is unachievable to be fully engaged with the story’s trail while also dancing the night away until 4am. Although this does not subtract from the theatrics of the city. 

Closing Ceremony

To round out the Twin Trail, story protagonist Elen delivered an empowering speech as part of an audiovisual closing ceremony. Her speech discussed festival goers’ involvement in the storyline and the social issues which underpinned it, notably the rise of AI. This was juxtaposed by reels of natural imagery: the sun setting, waves crashing, cells dividing, reminding the audience of humankind’s place in nature, its order and harmony. The ceremony was engaging irrespective of your devotion to the storyline, with a message everyone could relate to. Strobing lights, twinkling fireworks and jets of flame and smoke kept the audience in admiration, accompanied by energetic dancefloor drum and bass (co-produced by Kleu) that pulsated in time with the flickering imagery. With a final flash, the screens plunged into darkness, only to reveal next year’s title – Chapter Three: Revolution of Imagination.

Final Thoughts

Despite the irony, it feels quite impossible to find the words to describe Boomtown, the emotions it inflicts and the memories I have made. It defies worldly descriptions, transcending mere words to create an experience that is beyond imagination. It is more than a festival, it is an ethereal journey where you can dance, connect and fill your heart and soul. It is an invitation to lose yourself in a world of wonder, a pilgrimage for those who seek a taste of the extraordinary, a piece of art that you step into and become a part of.

For more on the music at Boomtown, visit our Music Review.

For more – URB (University Radio Bath) (@uni.radiobath) | TikTokUniversity Radio Bath (URB) (@uniradiobath) • Instagram photos and videos

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