Makky’s Boomtown Diary 2017 – Part 2
Saturday 12th August and Sunday 13th August
To sum up part 1. Thursday was crap, wet and muddy, quite frankly a nightmare start to the festival. Friday was a massive improvement with sun, lots of great bands and fun times. The festival starting to get even better from Saturday onwards.
Saturday started off hotter than friday, with that I knew it was going to be a fun day. Most of my early afternoon was going to be spent in the Devil Kicks tent, though I knew it was destined to be a long one as Just Say Nay were sceduled to close the Chinatown Courtyard with 2am start time. That didn’t stop me going down to Chinatown to check out who was opening the stage though.
Unknown Era – Chinatown Courtyard – 12:30
Much like with Skata Tones on Friday, I headed to the Chinatown Courtyard just to see what was on. What I witnessed was a barrage of dub influenced ska punk with a hint of a nu metal twist. Waves of skank-worthy rhythms and soulful sax melodies filled the courtyard as they were topped off with a mixture of raps and some powerful singing. There was a nice energy to the performance, from the stage and in the crowd, lots of smiles and dancing and gradually more people got involved as the set progressed. Unknown Era was another pleasant surprise to kick a day off at Boomtown.
Pizza Tramp – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 13:00
After seeing Pizza Tramp the night before in the much smaller Freak Boutique, I was intrigued in seeing what they would be like on the bigger stage of the Devil Kicks Dancehall. Performance and I think setlist wise it was almost identical, apart from the slight hangovers and vocalist Jimmy appeared to have blown his voice since the previous set. We got more of the chaotic riffs and shouting vocals that triggered mosh pits and fans to run around. There was plenty more humour too, perhaps more banter with more mates in the crowd watching them this time around. The highlight was certainly performing ‘I Hope You Fucking die’ several times with different lyrics. I think the set lacked the same intensity of the Freak Boutique set purely because the barrier removed all intimacy, but the entertainment was still absolutely spot on. Another great set from the Welsh lads.
Casual Nausea – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 14:00
Pizza Tramp was somewhat rowdy, however, Ipswich punks Casual Nausea took that as a challenge to better, and they did with their frantic brand of hardcore punk, fronted by most vicious shouting vocals of the weekend. The riffs and beats were faster and harder, so it was no shock that the crowd reacted stronger with more disorder in the pits. Though the music was tough, the attitude of the band was incredibly happy and excited for such a great response, with Zoe Barrow commenting “It’s actually quite hard to shout when you are grinning so hard”. I’d seen these guys before, but this was the best I’d seen them. It seemed that everyone in the tent enjoyed themselves.
Faintest Idea – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 15:00
Over the last eighteen months, Kings Lynn ska punks, Faintest Idea, have become one of my favourite ska bands out there. I’ve actually lost count how many times I’ve seen them since hearing their 2016 album, ‘Increasing The Minumum Rage’. However, that didn’t stop me watching them yet again perform one of the best sets of the weekend, with no bias in the slightest. The skanking was instant for ‘Back To The Asylum’, most of the crowd was dancing, and that only picked up for ‘Circling The Drain’. The classics flowed, with the pits getting wilder for ‘House of Cards’ and the shout outs getting larger for ‘Youth’. It was all out immense energy. Things, however, got better as Pook from The Filaments and his partner, along with Eve from Lead Shot Hazard and Ed from Casual Nausea all came on stage to perform added brass and vocals for ‘Corporation’ and ‘Too Bad’. At this point of the weekend, it was the best performance of Boomtown Fair for me, and it was going to take something special to better it.
Tree House Fire – Chinatown Courtyard – 15:30
What followed one of the most intense sets of the weekend was perhaps the most chilled. Already in full swing by the time I got there, Tree House Fire was on at the Chinatown Courtyard producing some of the most relaxed reggae anthems, some of which had plenty of light dancing. It was the best way to catch your breath from a crap load of skanking. Lots of dub sound effects, lots of grooves and some awesome singing, it was just incredibly upbeat and joyful.
The Bar Stool Preachers – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 16:00
Over in the Devil Kicks tent was Brighton ska outfit, The Bar Stool Preachers, who pack a little more punch than the reggae act on in the Courtyard, but this was nowhere near the aggression of the acts prior to them, but the energy was just as electric. Singer Tom Mcfaull oozed the kind of charisma that all frontmen need, the powerful voice and the countless ways to express it, from body language to facial expressions. Most of the set he had a smile on his face as the band continued to unveil awesome ska fuelled hooks that had everyone moving their feet and singing along. It was really fun to watch.
Because I knew I was going to have a late one I decided to take a break for a bit, and chill before the final acts of the night, I decided to explore the site a bit more, check out some of the scenery in DSTRKT 5, Barrio Loco, Wild West and Old Town
The scenery is still what sets boomtown apart from every other festival I have been to. Visually this is the most impressive place I have been to and each year the design of the festival amazes me.
Skindred – Town Centre – 21:00
Just like Reel Big Fish the night before, I had a choice to watch The Specials or Skindred. Skindred was again the right choice because they are always pure fun. The ragga metallers hit the stage to their usual entrance music of the Star Wars Imperial March with more beat to it, before launching into ‘Under Attack’. The classics flowed, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Doom Riff’ enticed the “Woah” chants. Benji Webbe was in his element, controlling the crowd, getting them to sing along as the Skindred choir, making them jump around. His banter was top notch, egging the crowd to react louder. It wasn’t until old favourites like ‘Pressure’ and ‘Nobody’ though until the atmosphere hit its pique, the shout outs were incredible. The set “finished” and just as I was walking away, the band returned to the stage to perform ‘Warning’, which of course is mostly known for the ‘Newport Helicopter’. This is an act where the crowd swings their clothes around, and every time it’s epic to see. Watching several thousand people swing hoodies, t-shirts and scarves around is a wicked sight to see.
The Filaments – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 23:30
I hit the Devil Kicks Dancehall just as The Filaments were appearing to have a little sound trouble before their set. It took a few moments to fix and the start time was a little later, but as soon as the brass notes hit for ‘The Farce’, the tent was skanking and singing to no end. The vocals were even more coarse than usual, it just added to that gritty punk texture that balances out the fun ska side so well. Last year The Filaments had a rather early slot and still had a decent crowd, this time the tent was jam packed and full of beans. Highlights, of course, came from favourites such as ‘Bastard Coppers’ and ‘B.P.C’, they always create a ruckus and have the best gang shouts. The pits were hard, yet enjoyable, it was a brilliantly rowdy set to see.
Planet Smashers – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 01:00
I beg for forgiveness of my ignorance of The Planet Smashers, but until a recent tour with Faintest Idea, I knew nothing about them. Apparently, they are a pretty big deal as they headlined the Devil Kicks stage, not only that but the tent was completely full of people skanking and singing along to the joyful ska. It was a really impressive sight to see. What was more enjoyable was seeing the Faintest Idea brass section join The Planet Smashers on stage, including drummer Jack Brew on trombone, I certainly didn’t see that coming. They all looked like they enjoyed themselves, singing and dancing on stage. A cool collaboration to end a tour.
Just Say Nay – Chinatown Courtyard – 02:00
At this point, I was started to feel tired, but I had one must-see band to watch before I went to bed. Kent-based nine piece, Just Say Nay, who produce a level of high octane ska-punk to go crazy to. I caught them several weeks before this event and they impressed me then, this time they upped their game performance wise, plus it was funny to see Leo Harvey perform bass in gold hot pants and nothing else. The pulsing brass and punchy riffs had the amazingly quite full Chinatown courtyard dancing and rocking out hard.
We got to hear a bunch of tracks from their recently released ep, ‘Shit Out Of Luck’, including ‘Tempted’ and a personal favourite, ‘Bouncer’ with its “lalalalala” chant and high tempo up strokes. ‘Low Blow’ really blew us all away though as Eve and Abi from Lead Shot Hazard joined the already nine people on stage to perform some added brass hooks. It’s easily Just Say Nay’s catchiest number and it had the whole crowd singing the “Dadadadada” part very loudly, even when the song had finished the Courtyard was singing that part over and over. Was definitely one of my favourite moments of the weekend.
Matilda’s Scoundrels – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 13:00
Much like Maid of Ace, I’ve seen Matilda’s Scoundrels countless times in the last few years, from their earliest shows up to where they are today. They have never been as tight as they are right now, and it’s easy to see how they are pulling the crowds they are like they did at Rebellion. Opening up the Devil Kicks Dancehall was always going to be tough though, especially on the Sunday morning of Boomtown, which Millie Manders dubbed “The hangover shift”; the sextet pulled in a modestly sized crowd though.
The Hastings lads kicked off with a bang, delivering their familiar brand of aggro folk punk With. Quinn and Jason’s voices that were nice and husky, the accordion and tin whistle on top of the plinky-sounding mandolin, the Scoundrels produced a wave of melodic numbers and hard hitters. Favourites, came from the likes of ‘Sinking in our Sails’ and ‘Shackles and Bones’ in which some fans sang and danced around lightly, there was even an inflatable unicorn being waved around. The top moment was ‘Pisshead’s Anthem’, the easiest lyrics to pick up on and it’s as catchy still as it was when we first heard it. Pretty much the whole crowd sang along. Solid start to the day.
Millie Manders and the Shut Sup – Chinatown Courtyard – 14:00
Millie Manders and The Shut Up picked up the tempo somewhat over in the Courtyard. The sun was blaring and it just felt right to have a dance around to some chirpy ska anthems. Manders was ever so smiley as always, appreciative of everyone there. That excitement oozed through her charismatic performance as she opened with the soulful ‘Little Big Mouth’, though she threw in her aggressive side for ‘Teddy’, unveiling some quite monstrous roars. It was the full package of fun and angst. Manders commented on the all the friends from other bands in the crowd like it was the ska punk Christmas. A personal highlight came when the band performed Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and the whole crowd sang the “sha-la-la” segment. This was a set full of positive energy, and despite the hangovers, it was incredibly upbeat.
Adam K – Last Stand – 15:30
I was introduced to Adam K earlier in the day so I was intrigued to check out his sound that he said was influenced by Queens of the Stone Age. He wasn’t wrong, vocally, Adam K sounds very similar to Josh Homme and his acoustic style is very bluesy alternative rock. It was talented but for some reason, it didn’t grab the attention of many. Most people just walked on or sat by the bar. It’s a shame, it was good but I just don’t think his style was entirely suited and he seemed a bit out of place compared to the rest of the bill in the Chinatown area. Given the right crowd and he’d probably thrive, but this wasn’t the right crowd for him it seemed.
Pronghorn – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 16:00
The end of Adam K’s set was interrupted by the sound of Pronghorn’s up tempo folk punk, lots of plucky sounds and loud accordions. It was rather fun to watch in comparison. Pronghorn packed out the tent nicely and had a really good reaction, from the audience. I didn’t stick around too long, but their sound was rather enjoyable.
Tim Loud – Last Stand – 16:30
Between sets, I caught Tim Loud. I’d seen this name a lot in recent months on several DIY punk events but this was the first time I’d caught Tim perform. It was exactly as I expected, a mixture of gritty, yet melodic acoustic anthems, some positive and dour topics with some humorous banter. I remember one track being about drowning in a sea of mermaids or something along those lines. It was a fun set either way. It was quite amusing when he realised that China Shop Bull was on soon at the Devil Kicks stage opposite and he blurted “I’m gonna finish in a minute because I’m not here to contend with bloody sub drops”.
China Shop Bull – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 17:00
With that in mind, I headed into the Devil Kicks tent to catch the Yorkshire act deliver their interesting brand of Ska punk and hip-hop fusion. Last year I saw them they didn’t have their brass section, and it was quite weird to take in when you know those melodies. However, this time that brass section was back in brilliant, infectious form for a track such as ‘King Kong’. There was a lot of new material that I didn’t recognise and they went down a well, but of course, we got older hits such as ‘Stone In A Sock’. The set was full of vigour and fans were happy to rock out and rap along to the many different vocalists on stage. My personal favourite was hearing ‘Serotonin Bomb’, though because I wanted to catch Lead Shot Hazard I left before possibly hearing ‘Crunch Time’ if that was played. It was a great set, though clashes can be a bitch sometimes.
Lead Shot Hazard – Crazy Calamities – 18:00
For the first time ever at Boomtown I actually purposely ventured to a set up in the Wild West. This is where Ska punks, Lead Shot Hazard were performing in the rather compact Crazy Calamities stage. I’m quite surprised these guys weren’t down in Chinatown with the rest of the ska punk family, but it gave me an excuse to check out a new stage. We were treated to an array of punch upstroke hooks, crunchy riffs and ear pricking brass melodies from songs such as ‘Safe From Harm’ that instantly get stuck in your memory and you can’t help but sing or hum along to them, especially ‘Grids & Markers’. The crowd was nice and rowdy, skanking along with some high energy. Lead Shot got a great reaction. Bassist Dave Collis joked that ska bands like to fill their sets with fun covers, so in good spirits, we got Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with the iconic “Put up a parking lot” lyrics’. That was however bettered by a cover of Weezer’s ‘Hash Pipe’ with the verse vocal melody played on brass, it was quite brilliant, much like the entire set.
Nosebleed – Last Stand – 19:30
Usually, the Last Stand stage is for quieter acts in the punk scene, acoustic mostly. Sometimes it’s left for full bands that are on the rise, giving themselves a chance to show Boomtown punters what they can do. Last year the likes of Matilda’s Scoundrels and RatBag played the Last Stand stage and this year they were pushed up to the larger Devil Kicks Dancehall. This year, Leeds based rock ‘n’ roll punks, Nosebleed, were given the same opportunity. The trio grabbed this chance with both hands and quite frankly smashed any expectations any of us had and decided to steal the crown of the best set of the weekend.
At first, I thought the monitors weren’t going to cope with the harder sound that Nosebleed produced during ‘Time & Time Again’, the speakers sounded as if they were clipping, that was fixed in no time though. A beer was spilt less than 30 seconds into the set as fans rocked out to the fuzzy rhythms erupting from the stage. It was guitarist Eliot Verity’s birthday, so the crowd sang happy birthday to him. From that moment on the scenes just went into pandemonium, Eliot and bassist Ben Hannah came out into the crowd like they usually do and fans surrounded them, singing into the mics and rocking out with them as Nosebleed performed ‘Secret’. At one point some fans picked up the guitarist on his shoulders and elevated him above the crowd, that was shortly followed by an epic human pyramid right next to the band; It was some crazy scenes to watch. I’ve seen some wild sets from the Leeds lads before, but this blew me away. The general consensus was that Nosebleed owned Boomtown after that set.
Inner Terrestrials – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 21:30
I decided to end my festival on a high with the ultimate DIY ska-punk favourites, Inner Terrestrials. In previous years they have been one of my favourite acts of the weekend and nothing has changed here as they delivered their typical style of grooves and skank worthy rhythms laced in the most political themes. Much like previous years, there was a lot of material played from their 2012 album, ‘Tales of Terror’, including my favourites such as ‘Smoke’ and ‘Run Tings’.
We heard some older hits such as ‘Enter The Dragon’, which always gets a huge response, and the pits opened hard for that. A regular highlight was for ‘Heavens Wrath’, in which we were all invited to sing some blasphemous lyrics of “Reject your law and shit your God”. It was highly amusing to hear a packed out tent sing that at the top of their lungs. Once again Inner Terrestrials remain one of the best bands I’ve seen at Boomtown, for three consecutive years. They never hold back on their values, when a crowd surfer comes to the front they urge the security to leave the crowd be. They deliver some of the best rhythms to dance and to rock out hard, it’s just the best mix. Repeating what I said about Wonk Unit, I can never get bored of this band.
So that’s all my band coverage of the weekend, time for a general sum up of my experience. I think out of the three years in attending Boomtown, this was the least enjoyable on a whole. But that’s not to say I had a bad time, I had a fantastic few days following the disastrous Thursday. I saw bands that I loved at their best, and I discovered yet more new acts. Even after the downer this has still been one of the funnest weekends I’ve had all year.
Thursday was so bad that it really killed my mood at first, it even put some people off that they actually went home, and I’ve heard some people say that they won’t come back after how bad the organisation appeared to be on that day. That does sound very melodramatic though, because it did get a lot better. I for one already can’t wait to see what’s going on next year.
Weather wise, we can’t control that but I think in future the whole festival needs to be better prepared for it. More sawdust maybe? Perhaps better drainage on the grounds? The mud got very boggy quick. Something needs to improve on that section just in case.
As far as the Boomtown magic goes, all the sets, all the story. That was cool, I liked the idea of the gentrification of the Old Town and what looks like Mayfair next year, it’s intriguing to see where that leaves certain districts for chapter 10. I did get disappointed that the Jolly Dodger was gone though, that’s such a cool stage.
The acting seemed toned down to previous years, it seemed less quirky than I’ve experienced before. Apart from the Boomtown Bobbies and the people in the Wild West, there’s less stuff going on in Downtown. Last year I saw caged trucks with dancers and a cyber punk looking metallic horse. There wasn’t much of that this year at all, maybe the weather made it less feasible? I’m not sure but it was far less obvious.
A massive shout out does go to all the staff over the weekend, it was a stressful time for all of them too as well as the punters on Thursday. Everything I saw in performance and stage wise, was pretty much flawless. From that, I can tell the rest of the weekend ran smoothly.
A special thank you goes out to Laura and Alec of the Last Gang In Town, who run the Devil Kicks Dancehall and Last Stand stages. Those stages were where I once again spent most of my time and I had the most enjoyment over the weekend. A vast majority of the bands in this feature were booked by them, so a huge round of applause goes out to the Last Gang In Town. Their work truly lifted my spirits.Also a massive thank you to Charlee of Pay No More Than Photography for letting my some use some of her pictures.
Tell us about your experiences. Who did I miss that I should have seen? Did you think differently about some acts? Let us know.
For part one