This was our first Farr Festival, a party which has slowly grown over the last 5 or so years. It came highly recommended by a friend who had returned year on year, so we joined him and headed off to Bygrave Woods. It didn’t get off the best of starts, with a two hour queue in cars whilst police and security emptied and searched every vehicle, we appreciate that this was probably a requirement from the police/council but the length of wait set the festival off on a slow note, and we felt bad for people arriving on foot who seemed to be waiting for just as long.
That said, once on the campsite the atmosphere was not dampened, Farr benefits from actually being in the heart of the country side; you're not in a field surrounded by fences but by hedgerows and fields in every direction. It’s something I hadn’t noticed missing from other festivals but gives Farr a real sense of space and connection to the surroundings.
We headed up the country lane leading to the arena and our first stop was a highlight of the whole festival; the Brilliant Corners stage is a successful attempt to recreate the hi-fi sound and sensibilities of the London venue in a field. The four speakers surrounded you on the dancefloor and the broadcast quality DJ set up and eclectic sets made it a staple of the weekend. After that, Mr Saturday Night delivered with a great early evening set to a packed crowd.
From the first night we noticed a very young crowd (one that made our group of 23-27 years old feel a bit grey…) but I guess it's reassuring that even the youngest groups of ravers are looking for the finest quality of music. We noticed some slight sound issues, which I have seen mentioned elsewhere, but by being fairly close to the front of the crowds it was rarely a problem for our group. The festival was split between a few smaller stages with the Main stage outside the woods and other three inside the trees.
Friday’s highlights started with Chaos in the CBD who started things very smooth and deep on the Hidden Palace stage. They were followed by Henry Wu who played to a depleted dinner time crowd but stole the show for me with his mix of jazz flecked house, broken beat, soul and disco. Red Axes on the main stage were dark and brilliant but the setting sometimes felt overshadowing of a more reserved set (less of the flame throwers!). After that it was back into the woods for Detroit Swindle, followed by Honey Dijon, I could try and run through some genres but in all honesty what I remember of Honey’s set is sweaty-happy-vocal-house and a lot of smiling faces: job done!
Farr did a good job of providing more than music and the Yoga tent was well attended all weekend and helped heal us both mornings with some stretches and a lot of laughs. Saturday took a leisurely pace (something that seems actively encourages by Farr), we heard good reports of Bonzai and Submotion Orchestre but we first ventured our for Omar S followed by Mr G. Three hours of banging techno and more played in the signature Omar S style, great sound and one of the happiest crowds of the weekend. Mr G picked up from there and by the time we left the woods we needed a quick breather! We found ourselves in some kind of caravan/makeup center/makeshift disco which distracted us up until Floating Points took to The Shack to round off the weekend nicely. He switched the atmosphere after Willow and treated the crowd to his selection of perfectly selected soul and disco, playing a few possible new productions which we heard in his set at Printworks earlier in the year. As expected a perfectly judged three hours moving into some heavier house and then a lovely 20 mins of Benga and African disco with Sam Mapangala being a standout tune.
We were left suitably topped after that, and as much as we would have liked to stay for Mano Le Tough (the other half of our group stayed and loved it), Brilliant Corners called us back and we finished where we had started; listing to mad music we had never heard before with a crowd of very happy and appreciative dancers.
Text and Photography by Cameron Black