A Boomtown Odyssey

Queuing alone inside an impenetrable wall of humans, barricaded by discarded cans, the sad encasing of an orange, a sandwich wrapped delicately in Mummy’s foil and a special-breed of impatient field-hooligan incapable of grasping that thousands of people landing in a field at once might result in a queue. “Sort it out” they chant, as though their dulcet tones will magically open the floodgates and we’ll wash through unscathed, like a riptide of dirty wreck-heads.

A sea of heads sway around me like sweaty bedraggled palm trees. Am I queuing in the right direction? Unable to find a way out, I settle in for the slow shuffle towards certain-death. I resort to eavesdropping: “…she had a thousand vaginal infections”, “…my mum was born in ’82”, “…a fully-grown man taken out by a welly” wash around me like a festival edition of Jeremy Kyle. Hours pass. Starting to believe this is my life now.

As the weekend progresses, I neglect to involve myself in most things I have paid to see, opting instead for arriving as they finish. Forgetting to follow the storyline, read the paper, visit micro-venues, partake in anything that makes Boomtown special. My habit of standing with my back to the stage further enhances the experience. Being short in crowds often means I fail to notice which direction I’m facing. At least I have ears though. Allowing me to enjoy soundscapes as they tumble past my ear-canal like a 10-tonne barge smashing subtly into a closed lock. And identify the extreme lack of bass at Drum ’n’ Bass stage: Sector-6. It’s only drums anyone cares about anyway.

We tumble into Robotika, having lost all but two of our friends. Amazing music, but no one knows what it is. I conduct a short-survey to illustrate my point and ensure everyone’s irritation levels are sky-high.

“What genre is this?”
At least we all know where we stand.

We slide gracefully into Cypress Hill like a silent school of dolphins chasing a shoal of dainty cod. They expertly work the crowd, dividing us into subsets: very-enthusiastic vs. not-enjoying-it-enough. We wonder if we’ve accidentally wandered into a Stewart Lee gig. Nice try, Cypress Hill: thinking we wouldn’t notice blatantly poached material. Nothing gets past us Guardian readers, try the Daily Mail crowd over there.

The last night brings more merriment, as we drop acid seconds before the festival finishes. We unknowingly spend the last minutes in a tiny venue with peepholes delivering portals to some tits and a sinister-looking banana. The pumping volume of the sound-system equivalent to that of someone else’s headphones 20 metres away. Luckily, it doesn’t detract from people breathing.

At Bang Hai, a man scales the scaffolding during the end ceremony. Momentarily, we think this is part of it. It’s not. Nonetheless, we expend all our attention on it, only to find we’ve missed the point. The next few hours unfold in much the same way… is this a thing? No. It’s some punters smashing bins around. We climb aboard a terrifying ride, which passes five minutes of the eight-hour trip we are now part of.

“I’m not climbing this fucking hill”, someone cries. Lucky then that they’re on the descent. A woman, alone in the centre of the forest, dances provocatively towards two security guards in time to the impromptu-rhythmless-Stomp-rendition taking place. The security look perplexed, as we all are. Droves of performers brandishing bins rush past, keen to contribute to the racket emanating from the woodland. Herein lies a bewildering collection of fuck-heads who should have been in bed three days prior.

Later, we are circled repeatedly by two ket-heads, unable to find their way out of the loop they have created for themselves. We are reduced to a crumpled heap, unable to really believe in our surroundings. 

After the festival, we join FWRD, an amazing organisation connecting abandoned tents with refugees. The operation fills us with hope until we find a human shit inside a tent. Until next time Boomtown.

Sarah Twigg


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