Gig Review: Boomtown Fair 2018 – Part 2

Article by Alan Corcoran. Black and white photography from Hold My Pint.

WARNING: The following account is a true story of a group of late 20s – early 30s adult humans going to a festival. It may contain stories of early nights, tea, and driving to a town mid-festival for creature comforts.

Last time we saw Alan (in Part 1), it was Saturday afternoon in the Boomtown sun. We join him last that evening  as the weather takes a turn…

The rain that cleared up yesterday comes back with a vengeance as we make our way down the steep hill to the Lion’s Den. Imagine a group of tipsy dogs wearing ponchos and sliding on ice and you’re halfway there. We’ve acquired a small traffic cone, rave paint is produced as we listen to Johnny Osbourne and someone has the smart idea to introduce a ‘drink every time someone says “Boomtown”’ rule. I’m not going to lie, this is where things have started to go a little sideways for your intrepid reporter.

5.45 PM

We are front and centre for The Skints and my internal organs are being bounced around my body via the bass setup. The kick drum and bassist are blasting out shockwaves in perfect unison and I feel like I might get shook out of my shoes. Of course, I have implemented a ‘drink on any mention of “London”’ rule for myself, so it might be that. The Skints are Boomtown royalty and it’s easy to see why. Apparently I’m not alone in thinking this as holy shit, there are a lot of people here. Thousands are converging. The beers are catching up on me so I fight the tide to brave the toilets and discover the sound is actually much better halfway up the hill as you can actually hear some treble. I also get complimented on my poncho, which I have failed to mention is polka dot, kids sized and makes me look a bit like a ladybird…

Getting our steps in, we head back on over to Dissorder Alley to see Capdown. I last saw these guys 12 years ago in a local dive bar in Galway and I’m happy to say they still bring a lot of the gusto to their performance that they did back then. I even find myself close up the front and their set passes in a happy blur for me. Possibly cos I get nailed in the head by a stage diver wearing wellies, which of course gets captured by the cameras..


9 PM (ish)

It’s time for a tactical pizza, and one that I’ve been looking forward to all day. Get the violins out, though, because this is possibly the worst moment of my entire festival. Not to be dramatic or anything. The pizza is downright awful. I try to make the best of it as I am feeling the slightest bit tipsy at this point, when I’m approached by a fellow festival reveller who asks me for a slice because he is, and I quote, homeless. I politely dispute this fact and his girlfriend drags him away.

My notes from this time read as follows:

“Slipknot Minions excuse me mate”

I still have no idea what the Slipknot Minions were, but that note kinda haunts me.

Speaking of Slipknot, the DJ/Sound Guy is dropping some serious Nu-Metal Bangers before Soulfly and I’m almost excited to see them. Five minutes of the set is plenty though, as I am NOT going to miss Authority Zero. Unfortunately this is a sentiment only shared by a few dozen people and one of the best bands of the festival play to a front row of me and 3 other people (including, it seems Hold My Pint Photography). To their credit, the lads take it in their stride and still deliver a top notch performance. We reciprocate their efforts by breaking out into tiny circle pits and in a drunken night, this set is a precious and standout memory for me.

Boomtown Authority Zero cred Hold My Pint.jpg

11 PM

Soulfly are running late so I’m able to circle back and catch the last few minutes of their stuff and against my better judgement I start to enjoy it just as they draw to a close. I think it’s just after this that we realise that they have the cardboard containers that allow you to carry 4 pints at once. Some of my friends go on an amusement ride, which seems like the worst idea of all time.

1 AM

Amazingly everyone makes it intact to Random Hand. They are the last band of the night for us and it is fucking hot this goddamned Hangar. Soon the whole place is a writhing mass of topless dudes clambering for the best dancing spots.

I meanwhile cannot lose the feeling I’ve seen the guitarist and his very recognisable chest tattoos before. [Ed: Perhaps from 2018’s greatest music meme?] My accountability buddy (accountabilibuddy?) and I believe we knocked as much fun as we possibly could out of the set considering we’d been drinking for approx 12 hours and we head back to basecamp. Obviously getting distracted by the big noises and shiny things of Sector 6 on the way. We fall asleep feeling like everything is going to be okay.

Miles walked: 12.6

Dan Walsh on the left there in the perpetually short shorts, for those who don’t recognise him.

Sunday Morning ???AM

EVERYTHING IS NOT GOING TO BE OKAY. My head has apparently been separated from my body, but also is just made entirely of pain. Pure pain. I may be blind. I realise I might have had a few drinks last night.

I crawl out of my sleeping bag, like I’m involved in particularly brutal trench warfare. This takes 5 hours or 5 minutes, I’m not sure. I make it to the opening of the tent, which is stuck. 5 minutes later I extricate myself from my plastic prison and am rewarded with the sight of a human penis. It’s attached to a human (thankfully?) who is relieving himself outside the tent. Because of course. I need a drink.

….let’s say 11am….

Okay, I have had a drink and I have a second one in my hand and maybe I was a little hasty earlier. We might get through this if we stay hydrated and be ourselves. It’s time to get some food and do it all again.

A lot of heavy hitters take to various stages tonight, so we wander during the day, taking in a handful of excellent bands whom I don’t know and probably never will. We also hit up the “Shamrock Bar” because you can’t keep an Irish person out of an Irish bar abroad. After genuinely almost crying at how comfortable the seats are, we take in an English band playing Irish folk songs, which is an enjoyable time until they start singing.

5 PM

In another “most Boomtown event to ever Boom a Town” moment, we find ourselves sheltering from the rain in the Skankin’ tent as The Social Ignition are tuning up. We’re not the only people to have had this idea and there is a weird bubbling energy to the venue as pill poppers, reggae rastas and good ol’ fashioned functioning alcoholics mingle in the anticipatory air. Shit does go down, but in the best possible way. Somehow the band strikes a balance between chilled rhythms and energetic call and responses. Mostly ‘pick it up, pick it up’ obviously, but the band have a certain stage presence that demands attention. Also there’s a harmonica player and it weirdly works. No one starts a fight, some people in front of us are essentially doing yoga, and the band throw out what I believe are called ‘Compact Discs’ that have music on them.

Once they finish the usual sound guy/DJ happens, except, again there is something in the air (probably marijuana, folks) and this place is going off.  Soon dudes are getting topless and dancing increasingly frantically and we slow back away and move on.

Much like Capdown, I first saw Sonic Boom Six many, many years ago in my hometown, at a time when I was starved for live music.  I’m happy to say that they still absolutely crush it live.

Sonic Boom Six Boomtown Hold My Pint.jpg

From the second they hit the stage it’s a spitfire blitz that honestly takes me by surprise. Here are a band that have been given an opportunity and they are going to pummel you with as many catchy songs as they can. This is how bands should approach a festival set. It is a dominant performance. Unfortunately we have to haul our asses back up the hill to the Town Centre, where we have a date with a band from a bygone era.

9.10 PM

It’s 10 minutes into the Limp Bizkit set and I think they have played one song. I say I think, because whatever they are playing may still be an extended breakdown/outro. Wes Borland is shredding the intro riffs to every metal song you learn when you get halfway decent on the guitar and the band are joining in seemingly when the mood strikes. “I don’t know the lyrics to this one!” Fred Durst yells, dancing in a primatial fashion. He seems to be genuinely enjoying himself, and, it has to be said, so is everyone else attending this bizzare covers/best of set that Limp Bizkit are somehow getting away with.

Over the next 45 minutes or so, The Bizkit stretch a setlist made up of just 7 or 8 of their own songs to the absolute limit of what could be considered parody. Durst, in a clearly rehearsed move, looks for a song suggestion from the assembled throng. An inaudible roar meets him. “Ah think ah heard KILLING IN THA NAME OFFFFF” he gleefully announces, as if it was ever going to be any other way.

Every breakdown is drawn out painfully awaiting the drop, a part of the roof gives way sending a small deluge of water onto the pedalboard, the setlist is a joke and somehow it all still works. Glow sticks, fire and dodgy outfits are aplenty, cynicism is cast aside and you better believe we bounce in the moshpit.


1 AM

I find it hard to judge how popular [Spunge] are. As explained in my P-Rock article, they had a level of success that simultaneously felt attainable and unfathomable, when I first heard them as a teenager in rural Ireland.  In said article I have confidently stated that I’d be up the front and at first glance it seemed like I’d be disappointed on this front. It was pretty packed.

Thankfully, as soon as the lads hit the stage, a pit opens up and I’m soon bounced to a prime position just under the bassist. And boy, what a bassist! Maybe it’s the sound setup, maybe it’s my proximity, but this guy goes.

This was the perfect set to end the weekend. Fun, sweaty, positive vibes. A bit of craic to round out proceedings. The band are as tight as you’d hope for this hour, there’s a healthy dose of self deprecating humour, and a massive toy tiger is held aloft for some reason that made a lot of sense at the time. Even better; I get to Jump on Demand and the bassist blocks me from most of the video that was shot from the back of the stage…

Said bassist ends the set by throwing dozens of tea bags into the crowd in the most British move ever. It’s a fitting end to the festival.

Miles walked: 16.62

If you missed it, you can catch Part 1 here, you backward-reading maverick, you.

Article by Alan Corcoran. Black and white photography from Hold My Pint.

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