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Boiler Room: A Community Grown From The London Underground, Spread To The World

24 June 2024 | 11:14 am | Sosefina Fuamoli

Boiler Room will likely remain the premier online documentation of a thriving global music culture that, now more than ever, has a community hungry for more.

ARCA @ Caracas Boiler Room

ARCA @ Caracas Boiler Room (Credit: Alba Rupurez)

Nestled in a pocket of Barcelona’s Parc del Fòrum, bass rumbles from inside the looming structure of the Boiler Room – Primavera edition

At the biggest festival in the Mediterranean, the Boiler Room maintains a bold presence; its lineup boasts an incredible lineup of artists and selectors who keep the ambitious energy of the club going across the three nights of the festival. From Portuguese-Danish artist Erika de Casier and baile funk maestro DJ Ramon Successo, to hip-hop/electronic duo They Hate Change, Arab-Latin fusion artist 3Phaz, and festival standout ARCA, the Boiler Room refused to stop serving the goods all weekend long.

As a first-timer to the Spanish festival, waves of overwhelming feelings came and went, faced with a lineup as diverse and stacked as Primavera was for 2024 (headliners including Lana Del Rey, The National, Pulp, SZA and more). 

But in the sweaty embrace of the Boiler Room - presented for another year by major sponsor, Spanish car manufacturer CUPRA - there felt an instant (and constant) sense of home. If you were deciding to dip in and out of sets or lock in for hours on hours of performances, the Boiler Room community on the ground was a surefire, guaranteed buzz. 

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On the final night of the festival, as a thunderstorm threatened to rain the entire event out, the Boiler Room continued to heave with action. As I stood in the middle of it all, watching ARCA hypnotise, I began to think about how much this series has grown in recent years.

Since 2010, the Boiler Room series has been tapping into the sound of the underground. It has become more than a vessel for emerging artists and established artists to flex their talents. It is now a globally recognised platform that celebrates a diverse range of sounds and artists; an impressive archive of over 8,000 performances from over 5,000 artists has taken the Boiler Room from London right around the world. 

Artists like Jamie xx, James Blake and Hudson Mohawke were part of the Boiler Room’s debut year before quickly expanding from the UK to Europe and the US, where audiences began to see the likes of Thom Yorke, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Disclosure, Run The Jewels and more host performances in different setups in these markets. 

Partnerships with different festivals, including SXSW in Austin, Barcelona’s Sónar, and Primavera Sound, have given the Boiler Room added exposure and the leash to champion game-changing artists and artistic collectives that may not fit the traditional programming of the wider festival.

That’s why it felt so normal to see Egyptian artist El Kontessa, legendary Memphis DJ Spanish Fly, and Adrasha from Ethiopia comfortably make their own stamp on things in the round. 

The Latineo collective—a standout discovery I would not have made had it not been for the Primavera x CUPRA Boiler Room—produced an excellent celebration of Latin club culture, specifically championing dissident movements and marginalised voices. 

The vibrancy of the performers, the passion behind the music and faith in the programming drew the best out of the crowd, ultimately producing the signature Boiler Room energy that thousands clamour to be part of with each new event announcement.

In Australia, the series has established a loyal following on the East Coast in recent years, with Melbourne and Sydney hosting sets dating back to 2013. 

As a feeder pipeline for artists like Chet Faker, Basenji, Hiatus Kaiyote, Jennifer Loveless and more, the growth of the Boiler Room via its Australian parties has become even more impressive post-COVID. The hunger for community has brought fans out to celebrate music on both coasts; recent stand-out sets have seen talents like Ayebatonye, Soju Gang, SOVBLKPSSY, Kalyani and more thrive.

This October, Boiler Room returns to Melbourne for two sold-out events. The likes of FOURA, 2 LUBLY, DJ HEARTSTRING, and more will conjure magic at PICA in the city’s industrial district. Selling out both shows (26 and 27 October) in record time is again a testament to how rich the culture around the series has become.

The richness in culture is key to the success of these events; the dedication to the culture of the music and purveyors of it is why such a revered legacy has grown over the years. Bold and innovative programming has taken the Boiler Room from rooftops in the UK to venues in China and Japan; it has even made its first foray into the Pacific in 2024, heading to Rarotonga to celebrate the sounds of the islands.

One would imagine it can be hard to keep that electric chemistry, usually exclusive to a club when the event itself has grown into a beast. Arguably, the series has changed the way fans can access streamed events, specifically in the electronic space. Yet somehow, Boiler Room has managed to strike the perfect formula of ambition and dedication to its roots. Even with its alignment with global brands – CUPRA at Primavera being a fitting example – it didn’t take away from that essential club feeling in the moment. 

It remains to be seen how it will continue to evolve in years to come, given the continued change in sonic trends and artistry. 

As it currently stands, the only way is up—with exponential growth and continued expansion, there will always be the risk of losing a core audience or perhaps biting off more than one can chew. 

With forward-thinking programming and pure curation at the heart of each event, the Boiler Room will likely remain a premier—if not the premier—online documentation of a thriving global music culture that, now more than ever, has a community hungry for more.