Much excitement as the taxi winged us closer to the site and the road signs began to appear. BOOMTOWN. Excitement turned to terror as the next sign read: SITE CLOSED 2130. Because it was nearly midnight. And this dumpling hadn't checked whether a press pass meant 24hr access.
Fortunately, we had our first taste of how fantastically helpful the event staff were. We were sneaked into the gate, given a bottle of water, told not to tell The Boss and sent camping. A couple of (slightly inebriated) guys from The Jewellers tried to help us find the site, which we did, after a rainy hour and some exquisite swearing.
Realising how extensive each of the myriad regions of the festival were, it was quickly apparent that this is no Day Pass affair. You can roam everywhere from China Town to Mayfair to Trench Town and The Wild West - each are sprawling brawls of shop fronts, stages, stalls and doors, themed according to the area. Many, many opportunities for side missions and adventure. People are dress and act according to theme as well, meaning there are Boomtown Bobbies looking for people to arrest, Wanker Bankers strolling through Mayfair on large mobile phones, decidedly apathetic staff in the pretend Complaints Office, and countless more.
There is a story behind this town. It develops every year, since its inception in 2009. The revolution ravaged population have apparently been saved by the new leadership of Bangai Industries ... but are they about the people or the profit?
The intricacy, the creativity, the wry humour in the surroundings are all encompassing. You are a player in the game, everything is interactive and everyone comes away with a totally different experience depending on what doors you opened and what you went along with. Even if you hated music you would love this festival, because the sense of community, the artistry, the narrative that runs through the whole place, is potent.
We laughed a lot too. Comedy highlights included:
Man emerging from the shower singing EVERYTHING IS AWKWARD in the manner of the Lego song when he dropped his towel.
Guy dressed as a post box stamped with DRUG AMNESTY BIN.
Overheard in the camp site: "I'M JUST A WASTED TAXI DRIVER." "NO STEVE IT'S WONDERFUL YOU ARE LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE".
Fake Christmas party in the fake Job Centre.
Cowboy with an empty fish tank on his head in the Wild West.
Drunk girl brandishing an inflatable flamingo getting stuck arse first in a bin.
Music wise, everything from psy-trance to drum and bass to metal is on the menu here. Highlights included Altern8 and Billy Nasty tearing up the Rave Yard with acidy beats, Colonel Mustard filling The Bandstand with yellow love and laughter, MIA being her usual sassy self at the Lion's Den, the age defying Alabama 3 charming the punters at The Old Mine and the outstanding SK Shlomo entertaining Whistler's Green with tales of how he went from astrophysicist in training to musician, interspersed with beatboxing and song.
In short, a uniquely immersive and diverse experience, for those after escapism with a boom.
Jenny Robertson and Natasha Milne