Makky’s Boomtown Diary: 13th – 16th August

Considering this festival is so huge and very diverse, I have decided to tell you all about my experiences of Boomtown Fair 2015. From things you might expect, to the absolutely bizarre.

Thursday – Arrival Day

In typical festival fashion it isn’t a festival without a little bit of rain –  well, on arrival day the weather was horrendous. After 3 hours of queueing in the pissing rain, I was already debating whether it was all worth the soggy wait (it really was). After setting up my tent I had the chance to explore the festival. Luckily by this time the rain had stopped and instantly I could see the incredible effort the organisers had put into Boomtown. Nearest to my camp was a district called Old Town; a pirate town set which contained a stage inside a pirate ship. A little further along there was Town Centre with a stage inside what looked like a house.  I also came across a Wild West district with a saw mill stage too.

All of this felt like I was walking on some kind of Hollywood set or a theme park with music venues instead of rides –  it really was a lot to take in. All the little food stalls and pop-up shops made it feel like trying to choose a film on Netflix; such a huge choice of things to look at, and not enough time (or money) to try them all. Even while people were still arriving, the party had already started, as there was a mini rave in the woods. It felt quite surreal that it was only the afternoon and still daylight. I left to wander about a bit more but from what I heard, that party kept going for many hours.

Even though there were plenty of stages open with bands performing from 7 until midnight, I decided to hit the hay early as I was tired and wanted to prepare myself for all the events for the following day.

Friday

Friday was the first day of the weekend that all stages had acts performing on them.  After finding out that there was nobody I really planned to watch until 2pm, I killed some time by heading over to The Lion’s Den stage to catch Stephen Marley, son of the legendary Bob Marley. The Lion’s Den stage looked like some kind of Aztec Temple. As you’d expect, Marley played a set of chilled out reggae to kick off the day, including a cover of ‘Buffalo Soldier’ amongst many more. It was a nice start to the day and afterwards, the real fun began. I had the opportunity to explore Chinatown in all its glory, full of lots of oriental designs, and more random shops – even a hidden back alley cinema which shows films before and after midday DJ sets.

Popes Of Chillitown – Chinatown Courtyard – 2pm-3pm

The first band I fully intended to see was London 6-piece Popes Of Chillitown. I had only heard a little bit of these guys before the festival on Spotify; what I witnessed from these guys I did not expect and quite frankly they blew me away – high energy Ska/Dub/Punk that caused the majority of the courtyard to skank hard. They were easily my favourite discovery of the weekend and a highlight of their set was the fact that they decided to do a ska punk cover of Spice Girls song ‘Spice Up Your Life‘ with a twist, adding miniature segments of System of a Down songs ‘Needles’ and ‘Bounce’ for a song they called ‘Spice Up Your System’.

Bigtopp – Chinatown Courtyard – 3:30pm-4:30pm

I actually planned to see what Graveyard Johnny’s were like, but their rockabilly style wasn’t to my tastes. What followed Popes Of Chillitown on the courtyard was less punky, but more a modernised two tone ska act, more influenced by the likes of Madness, Bad Manners, etc. Bigtopp may have been less intense compared to the previous act but the energy and atmosphere was still just as high and very fun to dance to.

The Mahones – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 5pm-6pm

The Irish punks became the first full act I got to see at the stage where I would end up spending most of my weekend. In a very similar style to Dropkick Murphys, The Mahones delivered fun, gritty, folk punk that got the Devils Kicks tent slightly rowdy. I’ll be honest, I was expecting a better crowd for them, but they still put on a blinding set and even covered ‘Rose Tattoo’ by Dropkick Murphys.

While I waited for Less Than Jake up at the Town Centre, I caught the end of La Pegatina. They were a latino-style, gypsy punk band with lots of bongos/percussion instruments and the crowd seemed to love them. After their set, as Less Than Jake were setting up, La Pegatina came into the crowd and started playing their percussion instruments, horns and whistles, including brazillian anthem ‘Samba De Janiero’, which excited the crowd enough for everyone to sing along to – quite a magic moment to witness.

Less Than Jake – Town Centre – 7:30pm-8:30pm

The Gainsville punks performed possibly the safest set I witnessed all weekend, performing a set purely from greatest hits like ‘Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts’ and ‘Gainsville Rock City’ to get the best crowd reaction possible. As most Less Than Jake fans would expect, the atmosphere was energetic and high tempo – lots of fun and jokes all round, with the band pulling out gimmicks of launching toilet paper into the crowd and dragging fans up on stage to have a dance. I’ve seen this set before, twice this year, and once again they were just as enjoyable.

Capdown – Devils Kicks Dancehall – 9pm-10pm

For a band that claims that they don’t really exist anymore, they have played a fair amount of shows in the last 18 months. Either way, you never know if this really is the last opportunity to catch the UK ska-core legends so I wasn’t missing this for anything! Sadly, I did have to sacrifice watching Flogging Molly. The Devil Kicks tent was absolutely packed with little room to move or dance, but people certainly tried. Looking like a load of atoms close together bobbling about, the crowd were going nuts and singing along to every word. Surprisingly, they played trademark song ‘Ska Wars’ very early on in the set, but that just hyped up the crowd even more. It’s sad to think I might never see Capdown perform again – amazing set.

The Interrupters – Devil Kicks Dancehall – 10:30-11:30

Hellcat Records new favourite toy to show off were on late, but that didn’t stop people from catching The Interrupters providing everyone with very upbeat ska influence punk-rock. My favourite way to describe these guys is to imagine Rancid if Brody Dalle was on vocals. That pretty much sums up The Interrupters in a nutshell. The Californians rocked the punk tent with lots of energy; it may not have been as manic as Capdown’s set but it is safe to say that nobody was standing still. All in all, a very fun set with songs mostly from their self-titled debut album. The Interrupters even teased a new track which seemed to go down very well with the crowd.

Stay tuned for the next part of my Boomtown Diary!