Review: Farr Festival 2014


Farr Festival 2014 had clear aims; to bring you the most delectable electronic artists, at an affordable price in an atmospheric and intimate setting. These were aims clearly achieved, with five relatively small stages bringing a seriously on-point dance lineup. This no-frills and targeted approach to a festival may however leave you slightly unsatisfied if you’re looking for much non-music entertainment or alternative-genre acts (or live music generally, for that matter), but that’s on you for the choice of festival; Farr knows its target audience!

Arriving in the blazing sun, shortly following a rather unconventional search of the car, a quick recce of the site revealed a pleasingly spacious and flat campsite directly adjacent to the carpark (minimum bag carrying, dope!) complete with infamous tube-train tent. The festival site was a 10-15 minute walk up a shallow hill and turnip-field-perimeter from the campsite. It was split into an expansive open field area housing the big top style main and flying circus stages, and the wooded copse that The Fox and Badger Hole called home, complete with cool low slung and curvaceous canopy designs. Almost all of the stages had an LED screen backdrop, which is becoming an all too easy and somewhat overused way of keeping people visually stimulated. Although it was used to good effect in the Fox Hole, where they added a bit of depth to the setup, something a bit more imaginable wouldn’t have gone amiss. Bring back decorations!

Move D’s been in the game for years, and the wealth of experience he has to draw on made him a highlight of Friday night for sure. Unfortunately during his set the organisers erred on the side of caution when a distant thunderstorm lit up the sky, shutting off all music for a short period (presumably because silence has some sort of Faraday effect..!?) and leaving the woods stages, Fox Hole and Badger Hole, closed for the rest of the night. Delighted that Move D came back on to finish his set, the night got back into full swing, and by the time the respective atmospheric and analog techno sounds of Âme and Bicep had distracted from a slightly dodgy experience on a fairground ride we felt satisfied that all was by no means lost. Stick to the dodgems people, stick to the dodgems.

In case you hadn’t realised, or you run an oil company and you’re still vehemently denying it, global warming is a thing. I know this because I listened to Al Gore first time round spent most of Saturday edging around in an arc following the shade around under our gazebo trying not to melt! Luckily the glorious foliage of the Fox Hole provided welcome respite from the heat, and the afternoon was spent enjoying the chilled atmosphere and dub/reggae sounds of Roots Guidance and Tudor Lion. Channel One Soundsystem deserve special mention for an especially uplifting set, probably the oldest artists on the bill with the biggest stage presence you could wish for from a DJ set. Their MC lead proceedings, preaching to the converted with no end of positive proclamations. The one to remember though, is that Channel One may be losing their spot at Carnival this year, so sign the petition to prevent this becoming so.

The main stage played host to the few live acts of the festival on Saturday. Molotov Jukebox brought some great musicality in a raucous Gypsy-themed fashion, which made for an exciting set. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Arthur Beatrice, whose generic indie-rock wasn’t particularly memorable. The Skints on the other hand, were on par with Molotov’s energy (it’s gotta be the horns!), bringing a contemporary British reggae sound edged off with a healthy dose of ska-punk and some unmistakably East-London MCing.

We were reminded of Farr’s intimacy on seeing Hunee and a few other artists appreciatively checking out the artists they were succeeding, cooly conversing with members of the crowd concurrently. Again this brings us back to the woods, which by the time the night fell and we realised what we had missed the night before, clearly had the best atmosphere of the whole festival. The only downside was the bottleneck the security created in letting people through from the main area; in previous years there was never a barrier, and Farr hardly seemed sold out, so we were left a little unsure as to why they felt the need to keep people waiting as long as half an hour at times. The Badger Hole was sporting the finest in British techno that night in the form of Daniel Avery and Andrew Weatherall, but unfortunately what were incredible quality sets in terms of the artists output, were let down a little by the lack of volume from the soundsystem, which was noticeably quieter than the Fox Hole next door. The Fox Hole itself however, definitely took the vibes crown, playing host to Detroit Swindle as the standout artist of the whole affair. Despite how overplayed and commercialised house is becoming, they managed to make a largely house based set one of the most enjoyable of all. They kept the crowd wholly engaged from start to finish, anticipating the audience’s tastes and responding to all their reactions with some stellar selections. Also because; Disco. Lots of that’s always going to help!

All in all, Farr Festival was extremely well put together. For those seeking out a relatively small festival focussing on quality electronic music, it hit the nail on the head. We’ve already pencilled it for when the festival returns next year.

7.4 On-point, No-frills
  • Pre Event Communication 9
  • At Event Communication 7
  • Post Event Communication 8
  • General Communication 9
  • Travel to the Festival 8
  • Arrival at the Festival 9
  • "Festival Experience" 8
  • Toilets 7
  • Security 8
  • Police Presence 8
  • Mobile Phone Reception 7
  • All-weather Planning 6
  • Creative Content 6
  • DJ/Artist Line-up 8
  • Family Friendly 4
  • Disabled Access 7
  • Food 7
  • Bars & Drinks 8
  • Cleanliness 8
  • Size/Scale 8
  • After-hours Entertainment 8
  • Value For Money 10
  • Technical Specification 8
  • Sound Quality 6.5
  • Lighting/Effects/Pyro 5
  • Extra Attractions/Activities 5
  • Local Scene Connection 8
  • Green/Recycling 7

About Author

Dunstan is an Acoustical Engineering graduate from the University of Southampton. Whilst he's not helping get Wind Farms through planning applications, managing a band or snowboarding, he takes care of Press matters for SOTONIGHT.