Farr Festival 2014 – Bygrave Woods, UK
‘Leave your fucking attitude at the door, and enjoy it’.
If this isn’t Farr Fest’s motto it most definitely is their ethos. After discovering it for the first time last year, my attendance this year was mandatory. Set in a remote location in Hertfordshire, it offers a nice escape for city dwellers, teamed with music to cater for a very eclectic taste, and a light atmosphere designed for die hard music lovers and families alike . Last year’s big acts included Eats Everything, Ejeca, Daniel Avery, The Martinez Brothers and some other big House and Techno names. This year saw the return of some artists and big new names to sit on top of the bill.
As someone who is not a big fan of camping (mainly to do with the English weather) we opted to stay at a nearby hotel which is roughly 5 minutes by taxi to the location. But for those who would rather stay on site, camping is available and whether you would want to bring your own tents or stay at finely presented boutique camping site is up to you. After making your way up the long dusty trail to the main area of the festival and getting yourself checked in, you are greeted by a vast area of land, starting with a series of food shacks from various different cuisines and as you look, every direction has something to offer.
The first on our list for the first day was South London Ordnance, a familiar name on the Farr line up from last year who started in the early evening, so we decided to explore the festival to get our bearings. The modest size of the festival meant that it was very hard to get lost; the site comprising of a couple of main stages in the opening area of the festival and a few hidden a short walk into the woods, even having an area designed to sit down (sofas provided) with cartoons being projected on to a screen. After we were happy with the layout of the festival, we decided to sample some of the culinary delights that were tempting us and with just a few moments before South London Ordnance were set to do their thing we were ready to go. It was twilight when we arrived at the Badger Hole, which is where we planned on spending the first section of our night, with names such as Midland and Scuba as well as SLO playing there. Unfortunately Scuba wasn’t around due to a string of illnesses which had affected his gigging but George Fitzgerald had stepped in to fill the void. SLO kicked it off nicely, with some very nice, very deep techno which, by the looks of things, was exactly what the crowd was looking for. Synchronising very nicely with the setting of the sun, it was apparent that this was a popular tent as it started to pack up nicely. With the weather being very nice all day, it would have been safe to assume that it would carry on in to the night. But it being England, a thunderstorm was just around the corner and unfortunately Mother Nature saw to it that Midlands set would be cut short not too long into it as due to the risk. Any confusion was soon forgotten as everyone sought refuge elsewhere. During our reallocation we managed to catch a glimpse of Move D until that tent had to be closed as well. It wasn’t too long until the show was back on the road though, the Flying Circus tent was back up and Move D resumed once again. It was obvious he was a showman, dancing around en route to his record bag and at one point making it down to the crowd and taking photos with the front row!
Next up were Scottish duo, Optimo, who were the perfect candidates for picking up where Move D left off. Showing off their broad musical taste and bringing their distinctive house tracks into the light. By now the tent was spilling outside with a big crowd trying to get into the thick of it and it was impossible not to love the music when the two really got going. Going back, the synergy between the two could really be felt as not a trick was missed. Content with what we had heard we decided to go to and chill out outside. During this time I even managed to bump into Keith (JD Twitch from Optimo) and he sat down for a chat. We spoke about the London music scene and even a little about Optimo Trax. Half an hour later he had to leave, casually mentioning that he was off to Berlin to play at Panorama Bar, like it was nothing! We took the cue also and we made it back to the hotel to rest up for Day 2.
Once again the sun was out in full effect, promising a great day on the farm. This time we arrived earlier and made the most of the sun while it was still around. The area in the woods played some nice dub and reggae to create the perfect atmosphere both lounging around or dancing depending on your mood. Once 9pm had come around it was time to check the first DJ for the day. Citizen took to the stage in the Fox Hole stage and this was when the night really started kicking off. Having had his debut at DC10 days before, it was as if he had brought the bouncing house vibe back with him, taking the night down a different route to what the day had to offer. We decided not to plan our artists beforehand this day and followed our ears instead. This resulted in us heading to see Hunee, which coincidentally would have been the choice even if we had planned the day.
This tent was also going to be home to Daniel Avery and Andrew Weatherall so we knew we had made a good decision. The music on the day was a complete different kettle of fish, incomparable to the music of the first days and it was refreshing to hear the blend of house and techno that Mr Avery was playing. Methodically going deeper, crowd permitted (and they did), displaying musical loops so rich, they could have been played for hours whilst remaining interesting. This set being the highlight of my night.
As far as small festivals go, this one fills every aspect one searches for , for a great experience. Music, location, friendly faces and culture. The staff are forever helpful, I did not have to witness a single bad incident and the crowd was there for all the right reasons. It lived up to all my expectations and more, while next years festival can’t come soon enough!
Words: Jenagan Sivakuma
Photos: Theo Cottle