Matterley Estate Shines Bright For Boomtown 2023…

Harvey Marwood

By Harvey Marwood

Harvey Marwood

16 Aug 2023

Boomtown is without a doubt one of the most refreshing and diversely unique offerings to the UK festival scene today; the past weekend saw an estimated 66,000 people congregate on the Matterley Estate in South Downs National Park for a celebration of music and culture like no other. Entitled ‘Chapter 2 – The Twin Trail’ and acting as the sequel to last years ‘Chapter 1 – The Gathering’ this year marked Boomtown’s 15th birthday as well as the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop, and went down as nothing other than a huge success. Here at Mixtape Madness we ourselves took the 2 hour drive West to Winchester for Boomtown 2023, and here’s what went down inside…

With a dynamic range of artists performing at this years Boomtown including Sister Sledge, Cypress Hill, Confidence Man, Loyle Carner and many more, news broke on Friday morning that the Prodigy, who were supposed to headline the festival on Sunday evening, could no longer perform due to medical reasons. There was no need to worry fear however; at short notice, the Boomtown organisers drafted in legends of the game Chase & Status, who have notably been killing it recently, to close off the most amazing few days of live music and entertainment.

Boomtown however, as many people know, isn’t just about the music. One of the most enchanting aspects of Boomtown is the commitment to building a living, breathing city that transports attendees to another realm. The sheer attention to detail in crafting these immersive environments was nothing short of impressive. Famed for its ever-evolving storyline, this year for the first time ever, attendees were able to affect the final outcome by voting on the Woov app.

Over the weekend, the different districts of the festivals were searching for Elen, the main character of the story. They were searching for her for different reasons and every app user was sent a notification to vote for Elen as ‘Friend or Foe’. The winning vote was that Elen is a Friend, and so the closing show reflected that, and she will remain as the main character. This interactive aspect of the festival is what helps the festival stand out as one of the most unique offerings in the industry – but let’s get back to the music.

Amongst the hundreds of sets across thirteen stages on the Matterley Estate, there were a few that stood out to us as we continue to champion the best talent in the rap scene and surrounding fields.

Finn Foxell :

One of the best sets from the weekend came from alternative rap artist Finn Foxell, who has become an undeniable force within the UK music industry over the past couple of years. Completely packing out The Vaults stage to an eagerly anticipating audience, Finn Foxell projected his energy and showmanship all the way to the very back of the crowd, and continued to flag himself as one of the most dynamic and exciting artists in the industry. Also bringing out special guest Rio Rainz to perform their latest single, Finn Foxell lit up the stage with his DJ Casnova , performing a setlist that will have gone down memorably to the crowd who reciprocated all the energy and vibes offloaded.

Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn :

As said previously when covering their music, in an industry where sometimes we can be blinded to the truth and originality of substance fuelled music, Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn are the perfect example of how the flowers can blossom when you stick to your roots. The introspective nature of their music created a perfect interconnectedness between them and the crowd – blissfully sampled crispy production rung through the air to the back of the audience, and the crowd were kept engrossed throughout the whole set. The opening Grand Central act of the day, fans came down in their numbers despite the weather conditions offloading rain; in turn, this added to the atmosphere and the showcase of bouncy, garage/jungle infused rap beats combined with Frankie Stew’s deep emotive vocal made the set ever so special.

Cypress Hill :

Absolute icons in the evolution and lifespan of hip-hop music, Cypress Hill made a highly anticipated UK festival appearance at this years Boomtown for a set performing their monumental album ‘Black Sunday’. With 2023 marking 30 years since the release, the trio consisting of vocalists B-Real and Sen Dog alongside producer/turntable master DJ Muggs all turned Boomtown into an atmospheric frenzy; a mixed audience all embraced the performance of what is one of the most credible and notable albums of all time, and with Boomtown also being held on the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, this felt like the perfect celebration for it.

Chase and Status :

With 20 years in the game, Chase & Status are undeniably heavyweights that have dominated the UK and the International scene for the past two decades. Having recently released summer anthem ‘Badaddan’, which has, as predicted comfortably done rounds within the music industry over the summer season – the infamous duo were called up for the final Grand Central headline slot on Sunday evening at short notice. Closing Boomtown in fashionable style, the duo brought though guests who have featured on their tunes over the past years; a fusion of older hits combined with newer current plates crafted the perfect set to allow the Boomtown ravers one last dance for this year.

Although the above only points out a few of my personal favourite sets, there was a whole range of excellent jungle, drum and bass, techno and other eclectic genres of music on offer. Whether it have been DJ Boring at the Zenith Stage, Sub Focus at Origin or IZCO and Reek0 in the Hidden Woods, there was truly something for everyone at Boomtown 23, and offerings that ran way into the night.

This years Boomtown was my first, and it certainly won’t be my last. Although dividing my time between recreation and content creation, the atmosphere and vibe of the festival was tangible. There are little places you can enter a judge free zone and be allowed to embrace your own identity alongside music the maximum, but Matterley Estate is most definitely one of them. Boomtown has already announced that they will be back next year from 7th-11th August 2024, and if this years festival is anything to go by, next year is a must attend!