Makky’s Boomtown Diary 2017 – Part 1

Thursday, August 10th and Friday, August 11th

The Boomtown diary returns for a third year running, perhaps this time with more added drama than I would have liked, but that just gives me more to talk about. This was a weekend that had some downs but many ups to make up for it….

Thursday – Arrival Day

Thursday started with such promise, this was the first year I hadn’t had the stress of travelling by public transport. Little did I know what kind of chaos I was heading into once I saw the signs for Boomtown. We followed the various signs to get to the right entrance queue and then waited, for almost 3 hours in this queue just to get into the car park. It wasn’t until then that we found out that one of the car parks was closed off due to some kind of flooding, causing massive delays.

Finally, after parking and trekking for what felt like a mile to the right ticket entrance, I managed to get my wristband with ease, though from what I heard later on it was a struggle for some people as the ticket scanners went down. Bearing in mind I came in through crew and artist, I was told that public entrances were an absolute shambles by almost everybody that I spoke to over the weekend. The people I travelled with came in through public and were searched by security at least an hour before actually getting their wristbands, I’ve never heard of queues, or organisation like this before at any other festival I’ve attended.

The ground in certain places once I entered the festival was so boggy from the people constantly trudging through the mud, the first real sign of being at a festival so it’s one thing to expect instead of complaining about. If you hadn’t prepared for the mud then that’s kind of your own fault.

Seven hours after seeing our first boomtown sign of the weekend we finally pitched our tents, at this point, it was already dark, we missed pretty much every band we hoped to see on the opening day because of the mess getting in. I’m still gutted I missed Popes of Chillitown, Counting Coins and The JB Conspiracy. After speaking to Will Chalk of Counting Coins, apparently they only just made it in on time themselves to even play. I lost all my enthusiasm to do anything other than to get some food, then go to sleep. I decided that Friday would be my “first day” at Boomtown this year and forget the nightmare of getting in.

Friday

After a rather negative Thursday, things could only get better from then on, and it did. It was sunny, and the boggy ground was starting to dry up. I decided to head down to Chinatown for the first time that weekend to explore any possible changes from last year, from what I could tell it was very much the same in looks and atmosphere.

Perkie – Last Stand – 12:00

The first act of the weekend I caught was a bass and keyboard duo who opened the Last Stand, which was opposite the Devil Kicks Dancehall. The performance was super relaxed and somewhat not taken too seriously with lots of conversation between the pair and the crowd, along with jokes about not knowing what key they should be playing in. It was all entertaining to watch, even with an accidental burp mid song that sent the keyboard playing into giggles. It was an uplifting start to that day with some humour and chilled out songs.

Skata Tones

Skata Tones – Chinatown Courtyard – 12:30

After Perkie I headed round to see what was going on at the Chinatown Courtyard. What I found was the Skata Tones, a sax fuelled ska punk act with a strong dub and hip-hop influence. It started out really chilled out at first with a rather modest sized crowd that gradually grew along with the intensity of the performance. The dancing turned from swaying to full on skanking, as the set progressed the confidence in the Skata Tones seemed to grow too. The highlight came from a song that was written about being at Boomtown; the chorus was simply “Welcome To Boomtown”, but it was so infectiously catchy you couldn’t help but sing along.

F.F.T.P

F.F.T.P – Last Stand – 13:30

I headed back round to near the Devil Kicks Dancehall to wait for Ratbag’s set, in that time I caught another duo on the Last Stand, this time it was acoustic guitar and a violin. Much like perkie, there was a not so serious, open mic vibe to the performance with lots of chatter between songs and humour. One topic was about the many things that F.F.T.P could stand for, “Fist Fuck The Pope” was a personal favourite. The music was rather fun, with beautiful violin melodies, it was really intricate. F.F.T.P was another great accidental find.

RatBag – Photo credit to Pay No More Than Photography

RatBag – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 14:00

Last year I caught RatBag over on the last stand, they were certainly entertaining back then, and it appears they must have impressed the organisers enough to have been bumped up to the Devil Kicks stage. At first, the crowd looked quite tiny, which was a bit expected for bands opening the stage. However, it didn’t take long for the tent to start to fill as RatBag unleashed their unique brand of energetic gipsy ska punk. The rowdy attitude started as some fans danced around in the sloshing mud, skanking around. The Brighton based outfit delivered favourites such as ‘Rentokill’ which produced plenty of “Woah” chants, along with ‘Oh So Boring’ which was a lot heavier with it’s crushing metal riffs. Sadly the band overran and couldn’t play ‘Geezer Bird’, but it was probably the tightest performance I’ve seen from Ratbag in the few times I’ve caught them.

Atterkop – Photo credit to Pay No More Than Photography

Atterkop – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 15:00

Atterkop is one of those bands I knew by name only, usually spotting them on the lineups of events within the DIY punk scene, though for some reason until Boomtown I hadn’t actually checked them out. This was a performance that made me question my ignorance. Barring the fact that only seconds into their set the guitarist broke a string as he unleashed the punchiest of riffs to ‘Every Boy, Every Girl’. The Bristol lads produced a combination of dub fronted hardcore punk, it was vicious yet incredibly rhythmic. We were treated to lots of upstroke hooks and distorted patterns, in which they were responded with dancing around and the occasional small mosh pit. The reaction for Atterkop was brilliant with lots of cheers in between songs, they definitely left an impression on me.

Maid of Ace – Photo credit to Pay No More Than Photography

Maid of Ace – Devil Kicks Dancehall –16:00

The Broken Arrow team have followed Maid of Ace since their very beginning, way before this publication was even an idea, so of course, we had to go support the Elliott sisters as they packed out the Devil Kicks tent and delivered their usual brand of gritty punk rock. We heard classics such as ‘Dickhead’, which is awesomely catchy as well as ‘Dirty Girl’, though it was one of the newer hits, ‘Made In England’ performed that was a personal favourite as the chorusing is so snappy and memorable. The response from the crowd was more vigorous and the pits got harder, and a lot more energetic, at one point there were a few people running around with friends sat on their shoulders. It was a solid set from the Hastings girls, who just continue to improve every time I see them.

Joe Tilston

Joe Tilston – Last Stand – 16:30

Joe Tilston of Random Hand fame and now Traits has played Boomtown most years but not too many times with his solo work; which in the contrast to what I’m used to from him is a lot calmer and melodic. I stuck around for a few songs, one of which was a twist on the classic ‘There’s A Hole In My Bucket’, where there was a response from Liza that the bucket needs fixing. The song writing itself was clever and beautifully performed. Tilston was joined on stage by a couple of friends, including Will Chalk of Counting Coins, who performed some light trumpet for effect.

Wonk Unit – Photo credit to Pay No More Than Photography

Wonk Unit – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 17:00

No matter how many times you’ve seen Wonk Unit, you will always be left entertained. As I walked into the tent I could hear Alex Wonk saying “They’ve given us an hour, silly people”, the crowd certainly weren’t complaining as they were treated to popular hits for the entire set. Usual silly favourites such as ‘Nan’ and ‘Horses’, plus the more up tempo rockers including ‘Go Easy’ and ‘Je Mapelle Alex’. The atmosphere was incredibly fun, full of the usual banter and silly antics of Alex telling us all poems and anecdotes before each song. We were even given the chance to vote for a song, which I was thrilled we got to do the elbow dance to ‘Elbows’. The set ended with an epic singalong for ‘Johnny Rambo’. I could never get bored of this band.

New Town Kings – Photo credit to Pay No More Than Photography

New Town Kings – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 18:30

New Town Kings followed up with a much more chilled dub ska vibe. Lots of two-tone themed melodies and brass hooks. It was great for a dance and a little sway to the many upstroke rhythms and pulsing horn section. I took this as a time to relax mostly The standout moment was when the whole crowd sand “nanananana” to one of the brass melodies. I did however only catch a little before watching Ebola La’s.

Ebola La’s

Ebola La’s – Freak Boutique – 19:00

The first time I saw these guys was in my hometown of Hastings and the guitarist decided he’d neck a bottle of Lambrini on stage in his pants. Not much was different this time around as they kicked off the proceedings in the tiny hidden venue of the Freak Boutique. Oddly enough even though this is my third time here, I’ve never managed to make it to this stage before now.

The Portsmouth two piece thrashed through a mixture of hard hitting punk songs and some interesting country tunes. Topically the songs were far from conventional; from singing about the awful southern rail and hating the rail police, to songs about being on the dole. Throughout the set, a bottle of Lambrini was passed around the crowd as the singing guitarist basically drowned himself in another bottle’s worth. Before the end the duo performed a couple of hip hop tracks, it was certainly an entertaining performance, more on humour value if anything.

Reel Big Fish – Town Centre – 21:00

The choice for this slot was tough, do I watch Cypress Hill who I’ve never seen before? Or one of my favourite ska punk bands who I’ve seen countless times. Reel Big Fish are guaranteed fun so they were the right choice. More iconically they opened their set with a cover of Poison’s ‘Nothing But A Good Time’ and that’s exactly what this performance was as the ska punk legends threw out plenty of fan favourites such as ‘Trendy’ and ‘Sell Out‘. Everyone sang along to the epic brass melodies and fun sing along anthems.

The stand out moment came when Reel Big Fish kept trolling the audience with a medley of snippets of other bands songs and then purposely mistaking who wrote them. They performed Nirvana‘s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ before saying “That’s not a Reel Big Fish Song, it’s Metallica”. This went on a couple more times with snippets of ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ by Lit and said it’s by Pearl Jam, then suggested The Mighty Bosstones hit ‘The Impression That I Get’ was done by Less Than Jake. Another highlight was witnessing the Fish perform songs like ‘Another F.U Song’, a track full offensive messages but makes them sound so joyful. Reel Big Fish were as fun as they always were, full of comedy and performing songs as brilliantly as they always do.  I left a little early to go watch Pizza Tramp, but not before I heard a cover of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, which was hilariously ska’d up and then punked up towards the end.

Pizza Tramp – Freak Boutique – 22:35

One of my most anticipated bands of the weekend was Pizza Tramp, welsh hardcore punk at its finest and I was given the opportunity to catch them twice. The first was a late night performance in the smaller Freak Boutique, surprisingly not a lot of people turned up, maybe about 20 or so people. Though those who did show up got rowdy, dance and moshed around to the chaotic hard hitters such as ‘Blowing Chunks’ and ‘I Hope You Fucking Die’, it was a drunk messy set and a great way for me to end my night.

For part two , featuring Saturday and Sunday reviews along with my general sum up of the weekend.

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