Boomtown Fair 2011

With Gogol Bordello, Goldie Lookin' Chain...
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Just outside the quaint little town of Winchester lies the Matterley Bowl. Every now and then, a festival takes over and this bowl is filled to the brim with music; last weekend Boomtown Fair came to town and it practically overflowed with bass.

Upon arrival Boomers were queuing around the ridge for up to 4 hours. But in true festival spirit the annoyance this caused was forgotten once the tents were pitched and the beers were cracked.

With spurts of fire erupting from makeshift trees around the main stage, gypsy punks Gogol Bordello rounded off the first night. Their energy out-lived that of many in the crowd. The band really were on form, but their encore saw many people heading for the backstreets of Boomtown.

These streets were paved with things to keep you entertained until the wee hours and housed a little something for everyone, from the Roller Disco to a club blaring hard-core gabber. There was even an inflatable church and, at the other end of the spectrum, the Gentleman’s Club. But the favourite of mine has got to be the Gramophone Disco. This corner of Boomtown played nothing but pre-‘60s tunes of pure class that made me feel slightly underdressed in my muddied boots and holey trousers.

Spread across five stages the live music included rockabilly, reggae, swing, ska, punk, dubstep, roots – and Goldie Lookin’ Chain. Somehow these Welsh rudeboys wangled their way onto the bill, and ended up becoming a highlight of the weekend for many Boomtown residents. Never ones to mince their words, one of the Newport massive announced mid-set: “We were going to do a Michael Jackson tribute, but he’s a paedophile.” So they didn’t. Instead, they hyped up the show with grimy bass lines that kept the crowd stomping along.

Barrington Levy caused a wave of grumbles throughout the festival as he was pulled from the line up at the last minute. There was apparently a mix up with his visa, which means unfortunately old Bazza Lev won’t be playing at Outlook either.

Thankfully there was enough going on to distract from this cockup. One distraction came in the form of The Apples. Stumbling upon this Israeli band on a beaming Sunday afternoon was my top find of the weekend. Not too sure what apples have got to do with the energetic hip hop/funk/ska sound this lot have got going on, but the confusing band name ceases to matter when you’re dancing that hard. The DJs were decked out in fluorescent jump suits and their manic drummer got more and more chaotic with every beat. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they dropped a Rage cover. Killing In The Name stirred the audience up into a funk-rock frenzy .

Last weekend Boomtown Fair filled the Matterley Bowl like a cauldron of ska, reggae, roots and rave, but there was so much more. The creativity within the festival (from arrangers and goers alike) created a brilliant little village. Boomtown Fair has swelled in size since last year, but still remains an intimate community of bass-loving ravers. A town of boom.

Words by Emily Anderton

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