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Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00

The bittersweet taste of unexpected success

Arts
by Tiger Deal

Word has spread that Boomtown Fair is the new pretender for top spot on Britain's music circuit and, in order to cope with the influx of new citizens, the site has nearly tripled its size in a year.

It's hard to believe that a few years ago this was still a small festival centred as an imaginary post-apocalyptic British town with worn-out walls, bust-up cars and a nuclear war-head sticking out of Tesco.

All the elements remain, albeit with much more space to roam between them, but some reckon that the overall feel has been watered down and that the festival has lost its intimacy.

Certainly, while the latter is true, each individual space of the festival has been allowed to flourish and grow, with each themed area taking on a life of its own.

On the down side, the organisers employed a bunch of thugs as their security team and food and drinks prices are top-dollar.

On the Lions Den - which has now morphed into a huge Aztec temple-style affair - Friday's crowd was treated to a fantastic performance from reggae regulars Onlyjoe, who got into full swing with old favourites and excellent new track Wicked Land, a full-frontal assault on David Cameron's policies and their effect on the common people.

The Gentle Mystics smashed it once again with a super tight set of their own particular flavour of reggae ska jazz punk gypsy fusion, this time on the main stage, causing a raucous response with their superbly lit stage presence.

At the centre of Downtown, the Arcadia stage was a sight to behold after dark, spitting fire like a War of the Worlds-style giant robot.

The show dominated a lot of people's experience of Boomtown with one of the greatest immersive dance floors of the event - a totally mindblowing sensory overload.

A mention must be given to all the artists, builders and designers who created such a quirky set with bizarre interactive shop fronts and stages with all manner of touches ranging from the disgusting to the just plain bizarre. The attention to detail was second-to-none.

Not long ago a fledgling satellite, Boomtown has made a sonic leap into the big league. It's not necessarily better, but at least there's more of it for people to enjoy.