Tucked away in a quaint little forest and surrounded by rolling fields of Hertfordshire wheat – a Theresa May wet dream I heard someone say – was Farr Festival. In its ninth year, Farr has evolved from a broken down caravan in the woods to become one of the UK’s leading electronic music festivals.
Attracting all manner of hedonistic revellers – or ‘Woodland Warriors’ as Farr like to call them – the festival provided its most stellar lineup yet, with the likes of Helena Hauff, Mr. G, Todd Terje, Floating Points and Detroit Swindle amongst the eclectic roster.
As is with many modern day festivals, location and logistics are integral to a festival’s success. It is safe to say that Farr nailed both categories. Ingenious staging nestled amongst a forest that was adorned with subtle lighting and inviting relaxation areas, Farr was tailor-made for a special midsummer experience. Whether it was halfway-hammock-time to refresh after a set, a jaunt to the ‘Bitch Boutique’ for a trippy makeover, or time to fuel up from one of the many exceptional food vendors – for which Made of Dough pizzas stole the fucking show – Farr covered all bases with prestige.
In addition to the several forest stages, Farr introduced its newest stage concept – The Factory. A rectangular enclosure built from old shipping containers, The Factory towered above its crowds and played host to the more instrumental of acts, such as Friday’s auspicious biller, Jordan Rakei. With a typically infectious set littered with crafted melodies, he wooed his audience by showcasing his recent release, ‘Sorceress’ and the rhythmically crafted crowd-pleaser, ‘Talk to Me’.
After Thursday wet the whistle with aplomb, Friday’s affairs saw much lauded Kiwi brothers Chaos in the CBD take to a sun-drenched Hidden Palace. My word, these boys know how to play. Two and a half hours of truly mesmeric housey jams were infused by joyous soul and jazz cuts such as Ann Nesby & Jasper Street Co.’s ‘Praisin’ His Name (Grant Nelson Remix)’. Smiles all round.
With Honey Dijon, Leafar Legov, DJ Tennis and Helena Hauff all clashing in the early hours of Saturday morning – testament to Farr’s gilded lineup – it was Hauff who gained my ear, and what a fucking decision it was. The German’s penchant for picking off-kilter records that continually elevate a crowd’s energy has become her habitual talent, and her evident excitement behind the decks was reciprocated by a wildly appreciative crowd.
Guided meditation in The Shala was needed on the Saturday, allowing the cleansing of the soul of the past two days of sinfulness before an Omar-S set, which was arguably the pick of the weekend. Bucket hat in tow, the motown minimalist preceded – and eclipsed – Mr.G, treating a thronging crowd to iconic snips of his own ‘Let It Out’, and the thumping melody of Todd Terry’s ‘Jumpin’. Tripping or not, Omar-S certainly made Farr’s forest feel enchanted.
A capacity Factory stage then saw Todd Terje play a live set which is rumoured to have been one for the ages, whilst underneath the canopy the ever-popular Willow brought some much sought after techno to proceedings. It was at this stage I took a wander before witnessing a Floating Points live set which hit so many spots at times, but also lacked a truly energetic trajectory like that of Omar S or Chaos in the CBD.
Alas, my wander was rewarded at the Campfire Headphase tent, where I was drawn in by the packed tent and shirtless northern vagrants cheering to The Streets’ ‘Weak Become Heroes (Ashley Beedle Remix). Middlesbrough trio Shake were at the helm, and had managed to pull the biggest crowd the stage had seen all weekend with selecting which can only be known as sensory ecstasy. Watch that space.
As Young Marco closed things off at the Adventures in Success stage with a surprising yet highly receptive rendition of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, the contender – and probably winner – for set of the festival was Mano Le Tough closing The Shack. Textured techno radiated in harmony with the impressive lighting – where had it been all weekend? – and an atmosphere typical of a Life and Death signee was heightened by the rising run having a nosey through the trees as if it knew this was not a set to be missed. The Irishman closed out with an edit of the omnipotent Octave One’s ‘Blackwater’, which drew emotional roars from a crowd that had experienced a set which sealed Farr’s forest off for another year. Impeccable.
I will leave you with a quote about Farr that I picked up from an Oxford student – and the meaning of which I still aren’t sure – ‘Despite the absurdities of neoliberalism that shine through—a 90s revival consumerist paradise in nature—the quality of the lineup is such that, for a substance-infused second, the soul resonates with the half-discerned notion that some kind of communal interlacement may still be possible.’
Bravo Farr. Bravo.
Words: Samuel Asquith
Featured Images: Jake Davis, Khris Cowley, Here & Now