This year, Boonstock Music Festival faced many controversies before the music even started, but don’t think the festival organizers or guests could have prepared for the dramatic contrast of highs and lows of the weekend until it was in full swing. Dust covered crowds massed together to catch top rock and electronic headliners who kept positive vibes and high energy in the wake of an unexpected calamity. From important lessons learned to top artists showing how it's done, Boonstock 2014 was definitely a one of a kind festival weekend.
Read on for some of the highs and lows we experienced over the weekend.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were a highlight
One of the standout acts this year was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who went beyond what I could have expected. High energy, and vastly entertaining; they managed to make their set both funny and dramatically profound. I would highly recommend seeing them live, even if it means a road trip. This is a show you shouldn’t miss if at all possible. Even if you just kind of like a few songs, the set is still entirely worth seeing
USS brought positive vibes
Another show that I was particularly impressed with was the USS set. These guys had positive vibes throughout and they really worked at engaging the crowd, which was really appreciated following the more tragic events of the weekend.
Alt and indie bands showed off talent
Along with USS and Macklemore, Rise Against went far and above what I expected. These guys know how to put together a show and hit every single song hard for their entire set. The Airbourne Toxic Event was also a great set. I think live shows are one of the best ways to see the full talent of all band members. Case in point was Anna Bulbrook who bounced around stage playing everything from keyboard, tambourine to the violin.
Crowds ate up beats served by top-notch DJs at the Kalamalka Stage
On the electronic front, there was a lot of talent, but my favorites played Saturday and Sunday night. On Saturday, Sub Focus and Zeds Dead wrapped up the day at the Kalamalka Stage with ever-changing, beat-heavy, high energy tracks that had the entire audience dancing until the last track.
My favorite Sunday DJ was exactly who I expected. Kill The Noise was incredible. His darker, grungier beats were fast and hard hitting making it perfect dance music. One thing I love about Kill The Noise, having now seen him play at a large festival and in a smaller venue, is his ability to play to the crowd. He plays smaller venues with the same intensity as large festivals, only widening the scope for bigger crowds. I would definitely recommend seeing him live, no matter the size of the show.
Health issues overshadowed amazing music
Over the course of the festival, there was one death, and another 80 attendees were hospitalized for drug and heat-related illnesses. Even a puppy was left for hours in the sun, tied to a tent with no water. We send all our condolences to the family and friends of Lynn Tolocka, and wish a speedy recovery to those who were hurt.
Here, we experience another reminder that attendees of any festival need to be an advocate of their own health. Always know and be mindful of your own personal limits when attending a festival; know how much time you can spend in the sun, how much water your body needs, and, of course, your personal limits for how much alcohol you’ll drink and what, if any, drugs you may choose to take.
Unfortunately, you can’t always expect the people around you to watch over you or support you when you need help, so look out for yourself, and for God’s sake, if you’re going to bring a pet (which is probably a terrible idea), look after it!
Boonstock could have done more to reduce risk
Organizationally, there were vital steps that could have been taken to reduce risk to attendees. First off, the availability of water. With temperatures soaring around 30-35⁰C (or 85-95⁰F), there was only one poorly marked water station at the far end from the camping grounds where you could refill water bottles. Other than that, water bottles had to be poured out upon entering the festival grounds and the cost of 500ml bottles hovered around $3.
In the dustbowl of the grounds, the only escape from the heat was taking a $10 shuttle ride or walking about half an hour to the beach outside of the festival grounds, even though the "beach party" was advertised as part of the festival. With the lack of big names playing during the day, people were left to their own devices in the poorly supervised and unorganized campgrounds for the majority of the day.
Musically, Boonstock had a strong line-up with some really amazing performances but with the health issues overshadowing the event and large gaps in guest services without readily available information, it wasn’t exactly a smoothly-run festival. It remains to be seen what they'll do to address these issues next year. If they’re going to continue with the festival, hopefully both the organizers and attendees can learn from this year and create a more successful event in the future.