As the expansive woodland clearing of FARR Festival 2012 opened up before us, we were greeted by lanterns, bunting, dream catchers, flags and an array of other items that you wished would hang from trees more often. The site itself was small and intimate, with 3 of the 4 main stages on one half of the clearing, and a bar on the other half, leaving an expanse of space dotted with hay bails and the odd tree. Soon to filled with a vibrant selection of beings, It had the sense of a sociable, café lined town square. As you walked through this glade, the music from the 3 tents played and mixed in your ears, allowing you to sample each one on your way past.
As we reached the other side of this clearing, the beat and melody of another stage rang out, the biggest of the 4 – the Sancho Panza stage – which was perfectly sandwiched between looming trees and another huge cornfield. Here, we also found another bar and a cluster of food stalls, providing good quality and reasonably priced foods such as pizza, pasties and a delicious hog roast. Right at the end, were a group of dreamy teepees for people to relax in. A very idyllic setting which had a distinct ‘DIY’ feel about it – this was definitely a positive thing though. You could see the effort people had put into making all the small details and got the sense that this was an intimate and private affair, something you don’t always get from festivals these days.
Musically, there was a huge variety to keep everybody happy and interested. Due to our slightly late arrival we began our night with Stuart Patterson on the bigger, Sancho Panza stage, and were happily thrown into a straight up house set to get the night going. After a good start, we moved onto the smaller stage, The Shack to listen to Huxley, and were treated to more bass-led house. It surprised me to see one of the bigger names of the Friday on the smallest of the four stages, but it worked well, giving the set an intimate yet incredibly energetic feel.
After enjoying Huxley for quite some time, we attempted to move on to something else, and caught a brief look at Logistics throwing out heavy and bouncing drum n bass in the Circus tent, to a crowd raving wildly with every part of their body. And as it was lit up by impressive strobe lighting, you couldn’t fail to notice this tent. However from here, everything got somewhat confusing…as we made our way across the clearing to see George Fitzgerald at the FARR Live Stage, we found the stage dark and empty. Apparently there had been some noise issues with the local council, and FARR had been forced to shut the stage down early. But after doing some basic detective work, we found that George Fitzgerald had been moved to The Shack where we had seen Huxley earlier on. His set was exciting, and highly absorbing. True to form, he experimented with everything from more bass focused tracks, to some tech beats, all the while expertly leading us through wonderful melodies and beautiful vocal hooks that kept us dancing until dawn.
Saturday came around and we woke to blue skies and sunshine that would carry us through until late afternoon. As we picked ourselves up and made our way to the festival arena, somewhat jaded from the excitement of the night before, we were welcomed by cheerful and optimistic disco tunes from the Sancho Panza stage – the only stage playing music at this point of the day. Thankfully we found a sunny spot on the grass, and enjoyed the healing nourishments from the fantastic food stalls. We found on offer everything from scrambled eggs and bacon, to fresh fruit smoothies, and from granola and yogurt to coconut water, from an actual coconut with a straw! As we re-energised ourselves, the FARR Festival DJs continued with the soothing sounds of soul and disco, and aptly managed to get the tired bodies laid across the grass upright and boogying once more. The afternoon passed into early evening, and after a brief trip back to the tent to don a few more layers, the music began to kick off fully once again.
In the early evening I was intrigued by the sounds of The Skints, from the FARR Live Stage and happily bounced along to the dub reggae the band provided. Later on we went to enjoy Miguel Campbell who did not disappoint. He got everyone dancing wildly as he treated us to great house music, old and new. The set was buoyant and upbeat, just how we wanted it.
However from here, we were once more faced with some disappointment from the FARR Live Stage. The organisers had been forced to it shut it down early again, and Oli D.A.B, Solid Gold, Thick as Thieves and Casino Times we were told, were no longer playing. However a little birdy told us differently, so under instruction we followed a wooded path to find a small yurt, known as the Disco Boots and Bits stage. In here we discovered that Thick as Thieves and Casino Times were playing back to back with fellow DJs and friends Pictures House and High Hopes. In this small back corner of the festival, the party took off. The eclectic mix of so many DJs behind the decks worked incredibly well, and took the small crowd on a thrilling journey through house music, and word spread as more and more people piled into the small space to feed off the electric atmosphere created.
Leaving the smaller tent on an incredible high we went in exploration of more excitement, and got sucked once again into The Shack, to hear the second half of Bicep’s set. The boys played incredibly, with a diverse and dynamic set that you would expect from these talented musicians. The small tent was over-spilling with people, dancing out of the entrance and well into the clearing. The ethereal melodies and dreamy notes they fed us were a perfect way to end the festival.
My only difficulty with FARR FESTIVAL 2012 was that the bigger names on the lineup were all billed at the same times in different tents, which meant you had a choice of rushing from place to place to see everyone, or missing some artists so you could fully enjoy one set. However, if being spoilt for choice was the biggest problem… then I think we can safely call FARR 2012 a success. Intrigued to see how this young, unique and intimate festival grows and develops in the years to come, I suspect that FARR may very well be one to watch in the future.
REFLECTING ON FARR FESTIVAL 2012…