With the UK summer festival season drawing to a close at the back end of September, there is still one hotly anticipated night of year where all the hardcore ravers crawl back out again which is the spookiest of them all. With Halloween events popping up left right and centre across the UK, there was one special inaugural event from Boomtown Fair that caught the attention of the masses… Area 404.
Announced in August in the height of everyone’s Boomtown blues, Boomtown had secured a 3500 capacity near their HQ in Bristol; an event I knew I had to attend to relive the magical experience of the festival.
Taking place over four dates across two weekends close to Halloween, the ever-growing hype was almost too much handle. With an undisclosed lineup and location, murmurs of speculation across social media snowballed rapidly, before the lineup was announced two days before the first show. From the initial glances, fans were not impressed with the lineup as they saw Boomtown had reverted back to their grassroots, featuring many unsigned and undiscovered artists. Whilst a handful of revellers threw their dummies out of the pram and attempted to sell their tickets, the remaining knew that whatever the line-up, Boomtown would put on a super spectacle.
Theming our outfits in accordance to the twisted mutant moodboard Boomtown had sent out to its citizens weeks beforehand, dressed as toxic creatures from a nuclear fall out, we were ready to enter the night.
Approaching the entrance, the post-apocalyptic awe-inspiring world the crew had built was nothing short of genius. Consisting of five rooms, the Boomtown complex was immense. From twisted metal beams, fire cannons and lasers, they once again created a world like no other and it felt amazing to be back. Promising an ‘immersive experience’, one of the highlights were the live actors who roamed freely around Area 404. Dressed in Bang Hai Industry jumpsuits, they scoured the crowds searching for mutants amongst the citizens, and when a ‘mutant’ was discovered, they would detain them as blood frothed out their infected mouths. The level of detail in the actors’ behaviour and clothing was meticulous, well planned and expertly executed and added to the immersive world that Boomtown has perfected.
It was also a chance for those following the Boomtown storyline to come up close and personal with the real AMI, who was behind a window installation facing a checkerboard with a plastic red heart in hand. The leader of Bang Hai industries was also lurking behind another installation with two protruding devil horns erupting from his forehead as he gave it his all to the heavy drum and bass whilst also like AMI, stood in front of a distorted checker board.
One of the stages we stationed ourselves in was the ‘Core Reactor’. With melting biohazard signs, concrete pillars and toxic warnings it felt like the remains of an exploded nuclear reactor, holding host to a number of DJs and live performers. One standout performer was Nadia Rose. With an army of UK underground tunes and a seamless DJ she got the crowd moving like no other performer and stood her ground, proving she’s more than just Stormzy’s cousin. Performing some of her singles and some new unreleased tunes Nadia Rose quite literally had the whole audience bouncing from the side.
As we got later into the night we wandered past the ‘engine room’ and heard some unfamiliar sounds we immediately had to investigate. We walked into a live drummer and his singer belting some live drum and bass. We stayed and watched and immediately had to look at the set times to find out their name. Titled ‘Septabeat,’ they blended all forms of drum and bass, making it easily digestible in a live environment. The drummer was extremely talented and created a well crafted soundscape which the audience could not stop raving to. It was a true spectacle of live performance and something everyone should go and see. I’m sure we will be seeing much more of Septabeat in the future.
Hungry for more drum and bass, we headed back to the ‘Core Reactor’, where Aphrodite took control of the closing performance. Churning out the heavy and chaotic baselines, his performance was full of twists and turns which gave the crowds that final push towards the finish line.
All in all, for an inaugural event there wasn’t much that boomtown Halloween could improve on. Perhaps there could be more toilets dotted around and the actors could have been on constantly throughout the night instead of just until 12, and the line up could have been slightly better. But taking these minor improvements into consideration, Boomtown Halloween is set to flourish as it breaks into the events industry.