Boutique festival Farr basked in a rare weekend of sunshine as the niche two-day event had a third year to be proud of at the end of July. Deliberately kept small and on the down-low, there was no lacking in atmosphere as the party in Bygrave Wood, Hertfordshire raged from Friday through to the early hours of Sunday morning with house, disco, drum and bass and live acts taking to the five stages.
Work issues meant arriving on-site before 10pm was impossible so we arrived to find a lively campsite feeling the Friday night vibe. Set amongst farmers’ fields as far as the eyes could see and no view of the music tents, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived at a modest camping space with not a beat to be heard. After a quick tent set up and drink to celebrate, attentions turned to getting involved with the action. Plenty of festivals claim to offer an enchanting woodland backdrop, though few give you the chance to play amongst the trees the way Farr does. It was a good five minute walk from the sparse campsite to Farr’s main hub: a scenic path through barley fields leading to a small opening in the trees which acted as the gateway to the music. Guests emerged into a leafy clearing with straw bales for seats, a bar, stalls and a selection of music stages we would get well acquainted with over the next two nights.
Friday was already hitting its peak by 11pm and it was impossible to move in The Shack where Flux were hosting an energetic house party. Whoops and whistles were abound with an exuberant vibe. The Sancho Panza tent in the grassy clearing was the largest stage which had Stuart Patterson getting into his groove while past the foodstalls there was a tent offering teas and a side order of hard dance unmentioned on the line-up. Get Lost in the Circus hosted drum and bass courtesy of Alix Perez and Skeptical while there was a glimmer of R Kelly on the live stage coupled with performances by Synamatix and Maribou State but the set of the night went to Eats Everything whose re-work of Adam F’s “Cricles” with a splash of the original junglist beats was met with raptuous scenes in The Shack. Fabric’s Craig Richards took to the decks in the Snacho Panza tent to round off the entertainment before revellers strolled back to get some rest for Saturday.
Eats Everything’s re-work of Adam F’s “Cricles” was met with raptuous scenes.
Sunshine awaited the early risers – though many will have been lying out in the sun simply to escape the heat of their tents. Farr Festival was one of the lucky few weekend events this year to be rain free and warm enough to enjoy with typical summer attire. Smiles were beaming all round the campsite as guests got in the mood for a second day of music, though the weather meant for most of the day people would be getting as much sun as they could rather than get into the tents and dance. Sitting downwind from Sancho Panza’s tent proved most fruitful for those wanting a tan as sets from Freddy Love, Jimmy K Tel and Leftside Wobble could be heard while tucking into a hog roast or tasty burger. Some chose to get their sunglasses pimped up with all manner of trinkets and adornments while others took in sets from The Vices, Co Supreme and Olle Bergkvist.
As dusk approached the chilled out Farr crews became restless and in need of beats, and one of the most pumping spaces was once again The Shack where Ran$om Note and Society had taken on curating duties. The place was pumping right through until 6am with house legend Terry Farely, the batty bass of Hannah Holland going back-to-back with Dan Beaumont’s stylings, duo Bicep and Optimo’s JD Twith all getting behind the decks to the delight of the dancefloor. Meanwhile Bristol promotors Just Jack were another draw as Jozif and Waifs and Strays delivered an alternative house party and Miguel Campbell proved the main draw on the second day of Sancho Panza’s billing. For those looking for something a bit different the tea tent was tonight bashing out rinsing drum and bass and hard-edge reggae much to the delight of those who ventured to the furthest reaches of the main space. By 6am it was with some reluctance the festival had to come to an end, however there was a good feeling about the enchanting space that saw tired limbs trot back to their tents for some sleep before home.
Farr Festival’s third year was an accomplished effort for a small event evolving nicely. There was small issues such as a lack of refreshments in the campsite – a tea or coffee alone was too much to ask – while some soundsystems regularly seemed too quiet given you could have a conversation right in front of a Funktion One speaker. Despite this, the quirky nature of the stalls, an inclusive atmosphere and excellent value for money in an age of blockbuster festivals with sky high prices made Farr a refreshing tonic for the music lover who wants nothing more than to chat to good people and dance to good music. If Farr can iron out the sound issues and make their campsite a little more welcoming, they’ll have an even better year in 2013.