Preview: Boomtown Fair: Headliners

With just under three weeks until the city’s gate’s are open for the tenth time, here’s our run-down of what to expect from the live performances of some of Boomtown’s eclectic mix of headliners. Over to Katie Biz…

Each of Boomtown’s eleven districts has at least one ‘main’ stage, but the biggest stage of them all is the Lion’s Den. One of the original stages that has been with the festival from Chapter One, it has been through several reincarnations and is getting a facelift once again for Boomtown’s tenth anniversary. We’re expecting big things and we know Boomtown will deliver them!

One of the hotly anticipated names performing here this year is Gorillaz. They were the first band to be announced for Chapter 10 back in December last year, and twenty years into their career they know how to put on a performance. Once known for their hologram virtual personas, these days the real band members are the focus of their performances. Their latest album Humanz was released in April last year and well received; since then they have embarked on a world tour. In recent performances Damon Albarn has remained at the centre of what happens on stage, and their set is sure to take us on a journey of where the Gorillaz have come over the last two decades. We can’t wait to hear favourites like Clint Eastwood and On Melancholy Hill.

Soul II Soul are another group sure to pack out the grassy dome that looks onto this stage. They describe themselves as “a happy face, a thumpin’ bass, for a lovin’ race”, and have their Anniversary Tour coming up later this year to celebrate 30 years of their R’n’B. They’re still fronted by founding member Jazzie B and you’ll know their hits such as Back to Life and Keep on Movin.

Also taking to the hallowed Lion’s Den stage will be the South African hip-hop / electronic group Die Antwoord. They are made up of DJ Hi-Tek and vocalists Ninja and Yo-landi, whose counter-culture style and sound comes with anti-establishment beliefs and a good helping of aggression and attitude. Taking a look at some of their music videos should give you a hint that their live performance will no doubt be extraordinary. If they follow their usual pattern they’ll come onstage in some wacky oversized clothing, which will be removed to reveal tattoos, bleach-blonde hair and black contact lenses. Yo-landi’s unusual vocals and Ninja’s aggressive rapping combine to create something really quite special: if you like, they’re arguably the quintessential Boomtown band!

Some of the performances at the Lion’s Den will be slightly more mellow: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals being one of them. Harper and his band are a rock / blues group from California. We’re not expecting any surprises here; Harper himself has won three Grammys including ‘Best Blues Album’, and the focus here will be purely on the music and songs such as the pro-marijuana classic Burn One Down.

Moving on to the Town Centre, one of the main acts to entertain here will be Limp Bizkit, fronted by somewhat controversial Fred Durst wearing his signature cap. They’ve had ups and downs throughout their career which started in the mid-90s, but are back together and performing a handful of other dates this summer. Recent gigs have seen them perform their big hits like Rollin’ and Break Stuff alongside well-known covers. They’re said to be writing new music although no sign of this as yet… maybe we’ll get a taste of this at Boomtown.

Another headliner to perform on this stage over the weekend is The Skatalites. Formed in Jamaica more than half a century ago, The Skatalites have helped to form not only ska but also have influenced genres such as reggae, dub and ska-punk. Their line-up may have mostly changed but their spirit and passion remains and we’re looking forward to hearing songs stretching back to the beginning of their career including Guns of Navarone.

As well as catching some of the bigger names if you’re anything like us you’ll be just as excited to spend time at the huge range of smaller stages throughout the festival. Look out for our next Boomtown preview feature, which will explore some of the lesser-known corners of Boomtown’s whopping line-up.

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