Arts & Culture

BOOM Charlotte Arts Festival Returns for Three-Day Run

A few artists to check for in a crowd of many talents

A man with his back turned to the camera paints a picture of Jay Z while in the background a group of women play classcal orchestral instruments outside in front of a garage door painted with a mural at BOOM Charlotte
Ricky Singh does some live painting while Charlotte Symphony performs during BOOM Charlotte 2022. (Photo by Jua Ossa/BOOM Charlotte)

BOOM Charlotte will return to Camp North End this weekend for a three-day festival of free outdoor performances, installations and activities highlighting Charlotte fringe and experimental artists, as well as ticketed indoor art performances. 

Launched by Manoj Kesavan in 2016, the festival relocated from its usual Plaza Midwood location to Camp North End in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. This year, BOOM is returning to its pre-COVID three-day run, in comparison to last year’s two days, with hopes of drawing in a larger audience. The festival kicks off on Friday, April 21 and runs through Sunday, April 23. 

BOOM-goers can buy a festival pass for $75 that grants access to up to 13 shows, while more selective guests can purchase individual tickets starting at $10. The vibes don’t cost a thing, however, as there are plenty of free performances happening throughout the weekend.  

As was the case last year, the festival is split into two sections: the Fringe and the Intersection. The Fringe is made up of ticketed performances featuring original edgy and experimental art performed in small, intimate settings. 

Three Black women wearing metallic tops do dance moves outside at night during last year's BOOM Charlotte.
Ife Michelle Dance dance company performs during BOOM Charlotte 2023. (Photo by Juan Ossa/BOOM Charlotte)

Intersection, on the other hand, is seen as the epicenter of the festival, featuring a broad range of art performed on a central stage, plus interactive installations and activities, all free and open to the public. The Intersection aims to serve as a location for artists, audiences and community members to come together and enjoy live art in an outdoor living room.

On the Fringe

Twenty artists will perform in Fringe this year, with acts varying from dance, spoken-word poetry, theatre and more.

Poetic Charlotte-based nonprofit Guerilla Poets will kick off Fringe on Friday with a poetry reading of work written by folks currently incarcerated at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center in Uptown. The poetry brings light to these artists whose voices and stories often go unheard. Attendees will have an opportunity to write responses that will be taken back to the Detention Center and delivered to the artists.

Those readings will take place on April 21, 7-8 p.m.; April 22, 4-5 p.m., and April 23, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Hip-hop artist Myrts Son will also hold performances all three days of the festival. He will perform songs from his album Divine Intervention: An Immersive Psychedelic Experience, which documents his journey through mental health issues using psychedelics. The music will be accompanied by psychedelic visuals and interspersed with a vulnerable conversation between actors that will play Myrts himself and his trip sitter.

Those performances will be on April 21, 8:30-9:30 p.m.; April 22, 7-8 p.m.; and April 23, 5:30-6:30 p.m.  

Fringe will also feature showcases, described as individual events that feature two or three distinct artists. One of these showcases, Undesired Mess, will include separate dance performances by Brittney S. Harris and Carolina Quirós. 

A woman under a spotlight in a dark room does a dance move while enveloped by loose articles of clothing that surround her on the floor and hang from her body
Carolina Quirós performs ‘It’s never enough.’ (Photo by Samuel Botbol)

Harris’ “Being B.A.D.” is billed as a theatre and dance performance that represents breaking the cycle of emotional and physical abuse and reclaiming power, which Quirós will follow up with a dance titled “It’s never enough,” representing modern-day consumerism and its effects on happiness.

The showcases will be held April 21, 7-8 p.m.; April 22, 4-5 p.m.; April 23, 1-2 p.m. 

In the Intersection

Along with many other dance and music performances scheduled for the Intersection stage over the weekend, there will be interactive art installations, including a storytelling exhibit entitled Airing Out the “Dirty” Laundry. The ongoing and evolving exhibition created by Charlotte artist Andrea Downs gives women the opportunity to share stories that might otherwise be silenced. 

Participants write down their stories on postcards and hang them on the clothesline, which will be available to attendees on April 22 from noon-7 p.m.

IN this black and white photo, a woman stands with her hands in her pockets in front of a clothesline with posters hanging it from it that feature empowering slogans.
Andrea Downs, creator of Airing Out the Dirty Laundry. (Photo courtesy of BOOM Charlotte)

The Digital Arts Center from UNC Charlotte will also hosting an interactive experience called dys/connect, described as a mixture of digital arts and live, electronic music made visible by dance and projected imagery — or, more specifically, “the intersection of EDM, marching band, art film animation and spooky haunted house sound effects with an interlude of Classical Indian Dance.” 

Dys/connect will be open to the public on April 23 from 4-5p.m.

On the visual arts side, Talking Walls will hold Spray CLT classes in which students will learn how to spray-paint from experienced Talking Wall alumni artists. Spray-paint protegees will leave with their one-of-a-kind art piece.

Classes will be in session on April 22 from 3-5 p.m. and April 23 from 3-5 p.m.

There are well over 100 performances and experiences to choose from at this year’s BOOM Charlotte, so be sure to check out the full calendar at the festival website. And for a little context reading while you wait, here are a few feature stories we’ve written on local artists who will be performing at or taking part in BOOM Charlotte 2023. 

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