8th November | Area 404
This August, hysteria swept the nation as the news that one of the most creative festivals in the UK was opening a venue. Situated in an industrial estate just off of Temple Meads, Area 404 is a five-room, vast complex that first debuted at Boomtown this Summer. With all four events selling out in minutes, with little to no information released, the anticipation of this opening has been monumental.
Taking the first steps into the smoke-filled, dystopian street that propels you into the realm, punters were in awe of the sheer scale. The narrative of Area 404 is that the venue is a post-apocalyptic safe zone, its own hub of civilisation consisting of dishevelled party-goers and otherworldly creatures. With fancy dress highly encouraged, the commitment to costume from pretty much all attendees just added to the experience.
As doors opened at 8PM, with music kicking off a few hours later, it soon became apparent as to why the extra adventure time was needed. Capped at 3,500, the colossal space was a winding maze of discovery that started in the Core Reactor, the beating heart of the nuclear factory aesthetic.
This second weekend of Boomtown Halloween horror felt like the ideal debut to this creation. Unsurprisingly the production value, paired with interactive elements, made the evening an immersive experience. From half-eaten zombies sprawled across each darkened corner to prolific Boomtown characters intertwined with the festival’s story barricaded in windows, these easter-eggs added to the detail laced throughout.
Not only were we buying into discovering a new theatrical reality, but the line-up was a true celebration of some of Boomtown’s most loved and frequent acts in the festival’s years. Admittedly, the announcement to the roster of acts for each show has been met with a lot of criticism, as revellers were expecting more a headliner-focused affair, yet this simply paled into insignificance once you were experiencing the 404 effect.
From Bristol’s tribal trio Sly One shaking up the Acid Chamber to Sister Nancy imparting a set of musical history in the Core Reactor, at every turn you quite literally didn’t know what you were about to witness. An undoubted highlight of the entire night were Smerin’s Anti Social Club, a brass assault to the senses which whipped the crowd into the biggest frenzy of the night.
Rounding off the night with Shadow Child, to then being thrust back into normal life, visiting Area 404 felt like a new beginning in Bristol. Each segment of the venue generated a unique atmosphere that kept you wanting to discover more. With New Year celebrations on the horizon, the space lends itself to thematic evolvement with no limits.
Whether you’re a Boomtown veteran or a complete newcomer to this epic world of escapism, Area 404 is its own enthralling entity with boundless potential.
Listen to ‘Ooh Tune’ by Shadow Child here: