Standing in the rain I felt what could only be described as pride during the Boiler Room. Being from Belfast I know, like everyone else from the city, what the fans here have to offer and how the success of the local talent is something we are genuinely proud of. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a Boiler Room like no other.
I have found watching the streams of other Boiler Room nights, that the usual crowds tend to be more placid, pretentious, with a sense of entitlement, not fully appreciating how lucky they really are that events like that are a frequent occurrence where they live or can easily travel to. The crowd at AVA were obviously grateful and were going to enjoy and make the most of every minute of it.
In the shadow of Harland and Wolff, Belfast got the opportunity to show, to an international audience, that we are extremely passionate about our electronic music, support wholeheartedly our local talent and crave a chance to engage in electronic music culture in the same way everyone else does in other major cities.
With sets from Schmutz, John Daly, Timmy Stewart, Space Dimension Controller and of course Bicep the madness of the Boiler Room was, in my mind, an energetic release of this passion by a chaotic, yet united crowd. For a city that is plagued by conflict, I have never seen so many people undivided in excitement, enthusiasm and a real desire to do something positive together (take note all those Up On The Hill).
This was something that hasn’t happened since the illegal raves that sprang up all over Belfast in the early 90’s. Anyone from the city will know what this era was like and can appreciate what the rave scene did for ‘integration’ and how stifling it significantly crushed electronic music culture here. But not the aspirations of ravers.
The AVA festival as a whole would not have been possible without the dedication and affection for the scene that individuals in Belfast have (thanks to Sarah McBriar and the Bicep boys in particular). For me personally, Boiler Room Belfast epitomised the vitality that bubbles just beneath the surface in Belfast.
Don’t get me wrong, it pops up regularly and there are those who work hard every day to keep it afloat (we all know who you are and appreciate it greatly), but Belfast needs more. More support for talent, more support from promoters and realistic licensing laws that will, at the end of the day, allow for a more thriving electronic music scene in Belfast, something that will benefit everyone in the city. ‘One more tune! One more tune!’ I say.
This article may seem to be more about the electronic music scene in Belfast than the Boiler Room itself, but I am positive many will agree (including the organisers), that that was what the event was all about, at least for the fans and the acts in the line-up. It could have just been another Boiler Room. No, this was our Boiler Room and I am sure that Belfast has finally secured a place on the electronic music map.
By Sean O’Sullivan