Afterthoughts: Farr Festival 2018

Few things bring people together quite like the World Cup, in fact, I’d go as far to say there’s only one other thing that unites people with such a similar bout of hysterical ecstasy. Music. And so it came to pass, Farr Festival’s ninth year.

I’m not too sure if one or two hot tubs and a scant yoga session quite classifies Farr as boutique – it seems to lack the attention to detail and daytime experiences of bigger cousin Lost Village – but its intimate 8,000 capacity and idyllic location certainly makes it feel uniquely detached from the rigours of real life.

Building on last year’s stellar lineup, Farr hosted a whole spectrum of artists that saw last year’s disco inebriation subside. From live performances by Tom Misch and the astounding showcase from Mount Kimbie, to the driving thunder of DVS1 and the growingly diverse Hunee; Farr delivered the musical goods once again.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing however. Following a promise that the volume issues were ‘much improved’ for this year’s edition, Farr failed to deliver once again. Alas, although there were significant improvements in places – most notably on the impressive Ma Dahu’s stage – a restlessness emerged within the crowds whenever nightfall drew in and volumes fell. It was a crying shame on reflection, particularly when fluctuating volume levels during a truly mesmeric Hunee closing set, robbed him of the weekend’s best set accolade. There was also issues with the supply of showers – or lack of – with queues of over two hours dictating the mornings of those duped into buying a pass. If Farr is to become the outstanding festival it has the potential to be, then these basics of festival infrastructure need to be addressed.

It was music that stole the show however, and rightly so. DJ Stingray brought his hectic electro best to The Factory stage on the opening night, whilst Tama Sumo and Prosumer rang in some bassy numbers in the forest, a night rounded off nicely – albeit a tad too quietly – with Prosumer laying down Frankie Knuckles’ GTA classic ‘I Need Your Love’. It must be noted that although not all stages were functioning on the Thursday and Sunday, the restrictive nature in which Farr prevents revellers walking around and relaxing in the forest area, removed some of the freedoms that festivals are the very proponents of.

As football fever grew in anticipation for Saturday’s quarter-final, Friday’s musical showcase delivered an exquisite prenuptial. Misch soothed the soul in The Factory whilst the likes of Call Super and the rapidly rising star that is Skee Mask brought insidious and garage-tainted mayhem to The Shack and Campire Headphase stages. Yet it was Ma Dahu’s where the night was made. The enigma that is Mr. G was curating the day’s proceedings, opening things up with a lovely dose of reggae that seemed to carry throughout the otherwise quaint Bygrave forest. He later returned with a live set that was as ever, bloody brilliant. It was the pair that followed him that stole the show however, with the ever-rousing Joey Anderson setting the perfect foundation for a dose of DVS1.

The man from Minneapolis was not at his most potent in terms of power, but he exercised his vast repertoire to deliver a set that punished in its own unique way, throwing the rapturous crowd along a road littered with rhythmically diverse bombshells. It was the set of the festival, righteously closed off with Legowelt’s breakbeat belter, ‘Deutsches PKW’.

IT’S COMING HOME. Yes, that was the phrase and the feeling of Saturday and credit to Farr for organising a screen at such short notice; although those who missed out on the flash sale of tickets were not so accepting. And from one state of ecstasy right into another, as people jubilantly filtered their way into the forest for a Gerd Janson disco masterclass, who managed to capture the patriotic mood perfectly with Krystal Klear’s ‘Neutron Dance’. He was followed by compatriot Dixon. Although odd hearing him in the early evening he as always, managed to engineer his own perfect atmosphere. Taking The Shack on an impeccably smooth ride through the gears, he engendered a mesmeric and dusky euphoria, closing with Claptone’s beautiful ‘Birdsong’.

As Job Jobse followed Dixon and tossed up a lively opening, Maribou State treated The Factory to a vibrant and highly impressive tour of their catalogue with ‘Natural Fools’ raising the proverbial roof. Onwards, and it was a mad dash to the Adventures in Success stage for a live set from the men who just keep on delivering, Paranoid London.

It now seems inevitable that whenever you hear the trio, you’re in for one fun little wiggle. Acid heavy and tinged with the characteristically warped and playful vocals, the forest was a gyrating mass of bodies drenched in smiles. Lena Willikens and then Roman Flugel followed, both meandering through visceral electro, much like The Shack’s closing set from Willow, who turned the key on Saturday night’s bass door.

As the sun continued its intention of hotboxing every remaining tent, there was little sanctuary for crowds as common sense seemed to elude Farr’s decision makers, causing them to shut off The Shack’s surrounding woodland – a perfect haven for stretching out during the day. Ma Dahu’s did offer some respite from the sun however, and after a lovely offering of disco from Dan Shake at The Factory, Digby and Zip brought their minimal, rolling sounds such as Paul Jonson’s ‘Love is Free’ to ensconce a dazed, yet merry Dahu crowd.

As the sun said its farewells to us all on the Sunday eve, the rising Leeds and London outfit Flux hosted The Factory stage. Although final proceedings were perhaps more fittingly suited to The Shack, Antal and Hunee supplied the joyful melodies regardless. Now I could ramble off a number of superlatives for Hunee’s ability to seamlessly orchestrate disco to acid to Depeche Mode to techno, but they would all seem somewhat inadequate. Even with dubious volume levels out of his control, there are few other artists who could have rounded off the weekend quite like the little master that is Hunee.

On paper, Farr has everything you need to throw a perfect festival. Whilst the diverse array of artists provided some extraordinary music and the woodland setting flirted with the mind, the festival’s logistics and lack of attention to detail seemed to peg it back a year. Think of it this way, Farr was an incredible roast dinner, but someone fucked the gravy up.

Summer 2019 will be Farr Festival’s 10th anniversary, head to their website for more info.

Words: Samuel Asquith 

Featured Images: James North, Rob Jones

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