Boomtown Fair 2011

Wednesday, 17 August, 2011

Boomtown Fair, is now in its third year, and third location, growing each time a little bigger, a little longer, and a little more diverse.  As a larger festival, it has changed a lot, but manages to retain something of the essence of the first few years, with the help of loyal bands and punters, and a lot of giant butterflies.  Boomtown is still, foremostly, a party, complete with loud colours and loud music.  This year saw an expansion of Glastonbury’s Shangri-la inspired late night mayhem, with countless venues open until 4am; and a stronger emphasis on the quieter, greener side of things in the daytime, with an impressive kids area and workshops for those inclined towards copper banging, chalk sawing, hat making, glass staining or massage, to name but a few.

Being at Boomtown certainly remains an interactive experience.  Leading off from the Town Centre (or Main Stage), revellers were invited into Mayfair, where they could check into The Park Hotel or The Gentleman’s Club, if suitably attired.  Downtown entertainment included a casino, a cinema and a roller disco; and Old Town held a Gramophone Disco and the Leisure Centre, which offered fitness classes and its signature gold sprayed gym equipment.  Scattered about town, many other weird and wonderful venues complete with their own sound systems and ambiences, enticed party-goers away from their tents.  The Dance Off also deserves a mention, providing comedy as all were welcome to showcase their moves.  For an extra cost, some chose to watch motorcyclists climbing vertical walls on their wheels in the terrifying Wall of Death, or to have a go on a variety of fairground rides.

But Boomtown’s triumph remains the music.  Balkan beats, skip-hop and Amy Winehouse tributes were the staples of the weekend, and highlights included the energetic Los Albertos and First Degree Burns; incredible beatboxing by Reeps One; the club atmosphere Ms Dynamite managed to create; jumping about to Babylon Circus; hearing good time classics by The Selector; hearing them again in a new and even more energetic format from True Beat; and the incredible vocal strength, range and tone of Nuala Honan performing with Smerins Anti Social Club.  Superlatives were also flying around all weekend upon mention of Slamboree, describing themselves as ‘a Neo Balkan Rave Circus’; The King Blues, who mix dub and punk with poetry; Babyhead, offering a fusion of hip-hip, reggae and punk; and the inimitable Carnyvillains, who began as a complement to The Invisible Circus acts, once again delighting the audience with daring aerial shows and lighthearted circus comedy.  DJs performed on the constantly crawling Arcadia stage, in the form of a giant beetle, which would sporadically spread its wings to reveal a dark underside of music and dance.

Asking members of Los Albertos, the Carnyvillains and First Degree Burns where their loyalty to Boomtown stems from, the same answer was voiced in different words.  Boomtown is an unpretentious, fun and friendly place, to discover and dance to all manner of music.  Judging by the dazzling fireshows, careful town planning, investment in music and the smiling people, Boomtown Fair 2011 was a success.

(c) Claire Higgins, 16th August 2011.


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