Music News & Reviews

Boomslang is making itself heard

It's the best thing a festival — or any kind of artistic event, really — could have on its side: familiarity.

It took the WRFL-sponsored and -organized music-and-more gathering known as Boomslang a short while to earn it. As the festival begins its third annual run this weekend, there is little question the event has made itself known — even if it is to people who have never attended it.

"More people seem to know about it than ever before," said Saraya Brewer, Boomslang's founder and principal organizer. "The people we have talked to about Boomslang have at least heard of it because of all the different new music events we have presented in the past. And some of those people are familiar with it, even if those people haven't been able to make it to Boomslang the last two years.

"But a lot of the (booking) agencies we've worked with are very familiar with our festival now. Plus, we can say who's been here over the past two years. That gives us a little credibility."

Acts in previous years have included Mission of Burma, Os Mutantes and Death.

Much of what made Boomslang so distinctive in the past — its use of multiple Lexington venues and its blend of music, visual art and performance art — is intact. But this year's Boomslang is both more concise and more elongated.

The bulk of the festival has been whittled from three days to two, on Friday and Saturday — or that was the initial intention, until an offer came to book a double bill of The Psychedelic Furs and the Talking Heads spinoff band Tom Tom Club, which features Fort Campbell native Chris Frantz, on Sunday at Buster's Billiards & Backroom.

"We love these kinds of throwback shows," Brewer said. "We usually throw in one act that's like that every year. Sometimes they are not popular. Sometimes they are kind of mainstream popular. But both of these bands are still really quirky and different.

"When I had inquired about the availability of The Psychedelic Furs, their agency said, 'They're doing a double-bill tour with Tom Tom Club this fall. You'll have to have both.' And I was, like, 'Sold!'"

Other highlights of this year's Boomslang: the first Lexington show by the reunited vanguard post-punk/alternative band Swans, and assorted fashion- and film-related events that will extend the festival's run through Tuesday.

"I think they may be playing Nashville or Columbus, but Swans won't be playing anywhere else around here," Brewer said. "That's the type of act people will come out to see to the exclusion of everything else going on that weekend. That's also a band I've been really interested in for a long time. They announced they were reuniting last year, but Boomslang was just a little early for them in terms of booking. They became one of the first bands we confirmed for this year."

Speaking of timing, that's another element that Boomslang has on its side this year. Last year's event preceded the mammoth Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. But it couldn't help but be overshadowed by the many WEG-related happenings, music and otherwise, that were to hit the city just after Boomslang's 2010 run was complete.

"Our first year was probably bigger than last year," Brewer said. "But this year is shaping up to be our biggest yet.

"I think a lot of people have been turned on by this festival to music they may have never heard before and bands they would never get to see in Lexington. There are a bunch of underground-music lovers in the region. Just hearing people say, 'I never thought I would get to see an event like this in Lexington' means a lot."

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