Arcadia crash lands in a thrilling weekend of festival fun

BoomTown Fair 2012 review

published: Mon 20th Aug 2012

around the festival site (Arcadia show)

Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th August 2012
The Bowl, Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hampshire, England MAP
£124, plus £5 eco bond deposit - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13000
last updated: Wed 8th Aug 2012

The Best Weekend of my entire life and everyone else I have spoken to. In fact if it was a real place I'd move there permanently. I'd sell my soul to re-live it.

Imagine If David Lynch, Baz Lurhman, David Lachappelle and Steven Spielberg worked together on creating a festival this would be the result. The sun was shining the air electric with excitement thousands of people arriving on the Thursday. Even before we made it up the rather steep incline to the main gate, you could tell something very special was just around the corner.

around the festival site (4)
First impressions of the site were hippy relaxing family vibes as you walk through the chill out area then down a steep descent into the Bowl the epicentre of the festival in the middle surrounded by camping on all sides it looks impressive from this view point though still as the bowl dips further you realize it's still only half of it you can see and there in all its glory up the hill spelled out is Boomtown in the same way as it would be on the Hollywood hills, yet to us it will come to mean just as much. WE have arrived!

I went to the first and second Boomtown but sadly missed last year's in the same location so I was experiencing this space as a first timer and wow what great use they have done with it.

I am instantly amazed at how much effort has gone into it from the intricate details to over the top affairs.

We set up our tents and went for a look about the actual built up town. There's streets coming off from the town centre, old town is the well kept upper part of town where the buildings are more traditional but behind the scenes turn out to be just as debaucherous as down town which is the rough end, disheveled mad max mayhem, where the Asbo Roller Disco takes pride of place at the end of the road all blinged and trashed up to perfection. At night it all comes alive with heavy sounds and shenanigans. Oh my, that place, what a vibe! Benny Page's set was out of this world it was packed right outside the entrance with people just trying to get a glimpse of the vibrancy. Inside bodies moving in sync like a tumultuous sea.

around the festival site (1)
I noticed a road sign for Stashwell Alley which filled my heart with love in honor of DJ Stashwell who sadly left us last year and throughout the festival the remembrance dances at the dance off stage and amount of people wearing "I heart stashwell" tee-shirts was an overwhelming sense of love, respect and memories of Tom.

In the Invisible Circus I saw an act called Circo Swing, which was a circus performance set perfectly to electro swing music. The talent on this lot was remarkable, there was a girl hanging by her feet on a trapeze hula hooping upside down making the crowd go wild. At the end of the act all of the performers together did their own things and perfectly timed for the very last beat of the song where two girls on double silks rolled down from the ceiling as the final hurrah. Packing a tent out at 1pm in the afternoon speaks volumes for these performers, and reveals BoomTown offered much more than music on the progamme.

Not only was there the big stages and small intimate venues but there were several travelling parties going around the site. Whenever the Police Rave Unit or the Doppler or Jailhouse Rock turned up so did the continuous free party feel of the festival. Seriously, there was all sorts of music everywhere.

DJ Die and MC Inja
BoomTown is not your standard festival by far. The revellers, the crew and everyone who was involved had put so much effort in to decoration and the costumes many people were wearing were second to none and as off the wall as can be. This place was delightful, free spirited and takes place as a one off spectacle as if transported into a whole new world for the long weekend.

The pièce de résistance was of course Arcadia stage which was a big mechanical alien three legged spider. The DJ booth in the middle suspended about 20 feet into the air surrounded by glass so you could see them from all sides. War of the Worlds' is the best way to describe how ominous it appeared.

In the day it just looked like a big structure but by night it turned into the heart of the Boomtown spectacular and most notorious part of the festival, with its lights, lasers, smoke and fire shows. If you weren't there you couldn't appreciate how hot the flames were, you could feel the heat half a mile away. I first made it there for DJ Die's set on the Friday. He nailed it, the crowd were going crazy but the sound system didn't seem quite right.

around the festival site (2)
There was a big difference on the Saturday night as it turned into explosive sound. Far Too Loud on Arcadia stage was beyond belief. Seeing an aerial artist come down from the crane and pick up another performer from the crowd was a beautiful piece of theatre as bass rumbled through the crowd, and the flames were high above their heads. The mechanical and raw music fitting the Arcadia stage vibe perfectly.

Reel Big Fish played main stage on Friday. They had so much energy running around on stage tearing up cover versions of 'Take On Me' and Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'. The crowd were in full vibes and it was packed out as far as the eye can see. The flames at front of stage and people crowd surfing added to the enjoyment and they thoroughly deserved the massive applause the crowd gave. It was a fantastic performance given with love and energy you could tell they wanted to play for that crowd.

Slamboree took the Bassline Circus area to another level. They had a slack ropewalker in the crowd up about 5 foot high and a girl with an angle grinder sending sparks high into the air. It was packed and there were still people queuing to get in. It was so tight and you could hardly dance but that didn't stop everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves.

around the festival site (5)
Other notable performances and places were Laid Blak in the hidden woods. The vibrancy of their performance stimulated the crowd under the canopy of the trees. This place was decked out with sand and in the day it was a great place to chill out in the shade. Each area of the festival had it's own special brand of music, you could visit the Body Shop for twisted torsos and techno, mosh in the Devil Kicks Dancehall, party in Funkington Manor, or Bank with the Bearded Kitten and a special note to Charlie Browns where you had to step through a red telephone box to get in. Each area had impressive displays and the attention to detail showed the amount of effort, cost, skill and time that had gone into building this party town. The main arena area was even impressively well lit at night and easy to walk around at night without the need of a torch.

Squirrelled away far down from the main site, nestled amongst the neighbourhood suburban campsite districts was a snow dome where you could rave in a pure white dome tent as snow foam floated down majestically.

The festival also offered some of the best choices of food places I've seen at a festival, all reasonably priced and there was something for everyone. Multiple bars offered a range of drinks, even frozen lolly ones, there were also a lot of ciders, but only one ale.

I do have to mention that the water was turned off quite a lot around the campsite. We couldn't fill up our bottles, wash our hands or anything. This was a daily occurrence and very disappointing for basic hygiene and dehydration when a small bottle of water was priced at £2. Hopefully this will be addressed in future, and never happen again.

around the festival site (4)
The toilets were not good at all (worst I've seen in years). Although cleaned daily, BoomTowners are not a hygienic bunch. Of long drop (non-flushing) design they were not deep enough, and fills often a door hid over flows. But these two gripes were the only things that I can possibly complain about. With everything else just perfect it was hard to bemoan anything.

Overall there was just far too much going on to write about. I've missed out over 90% of what was actually there and happening, there were moments of madness at every turn. I would seriously need to write a whole book to describe how overjoyed I am at all the little details. I'd recommend having a look at the photos because it is true that a photo is a thousand words, especially in the case of Boomtown.

So there you go, it lived right up to its name.

BOOM - The end of the festival nuclear cloud.
TOWN - Yes, they built an actual town.
FAIR - The whole place was a carnival fairground.

Big Love and Thank you to everyone involved, I can't wait until I see you all again next year for SUPERFUNTIMES!

around the festival site (Arcadia show)
review by: Kimberley Storm

photos by: Karen Roberts

Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th August 2012
The Bowl, Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hampshire, England MAP
£124, plus £5 eco bond deposit - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13000
last updated: Wed 8th Aug 2012

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