[Above image credit: Farr]
Farr Festival has grown steadily since its inception in 2009, from a gathering of friends to a festival hosting up to 10,000 people. Over this space of time, many other small, boutique style electronic music festivals have sprouted across the UK including Gottwood, Houghton and Field Maneuvers to name a few, making it essential that Farr carve out a niche for itself.
Other than its size and intimacy, Farr’s greatest attribute would be it’s proximity to London (under 40 minutes from Kings Cross). It was a rare privilege to be able to see many of house and techno’s most established acts, combined with exciting new talent, in 30°C sun within the woods of Hertfordshire.
The programming was both inspired and questionable over the course of the weekend.
Thursday saw the Adventures In Success stage close at 12:00am to the dismay of Prosumer who was just getting into the rhythm of things. It did not feel as if the festival properly began until Friday afternoon.
The best programming of the festival came across two stages; Mr G’s curation of talent on the new Ma Dahu’s stage on Friday, and the Inverted Audio curation of the Campfire Headphase tent across the course of the weekend. On Friday, Mr G hosted some of house and techno’s finest; whether it be upcoming talent in the form of Byron The Aquarius, underrated DJ, Joey Anderson, or legendary acts, Mr G himself and DVS1. Despite the likes of Veronica Vasicka, Optimo b2b Young Marco, and Zenker Brothers appearing across other stages that evening, it was difficult to look past Ma Dahu’s with its superior sound and vibe.
The most intimate and consistently brilliant music area was the Campfire Headphase tent which played host to many rare and up-and-coming acts. Its tunnel shape, carpeted floor and dim red lighting help to create the feeling of dancing in a mate’s living room during after hours and often inspired a shoeless boogie. Our picks included, Galcher Lustwerk, Terekke, Skee Mask, DJ Richard and the mesmerising, Ramjac Corporation.
The addition of music on the Sunday saw Antal and Hunee close The Factory stage and Zip close the Ma Dahu stage over the course of four hours. Both of these choices were perfect for those looking for the straighter summer anthems, or those looking for Zip’s wonky, jackin’ house selections.
Farr Festival was not without its flaws, a key one being the varying sound quality dependant upon the stage and time of day. However, without a doubt, Farr’s positives outweigh them- the location, setting, weather and vibe made for what was a very enjoyable and memorable experience overall.
Farr was the only festival I managed to make it to this year, with its location only an hour from London making it very easily accessible for myself and a lot of the Mantissa team. Set in the beautiful space of the Bygrave Woods, it truly added itself to the experience we immersed ourselves in the 4 day festival.
The line-up for Farr this year was fantastic with a lot of acts who I rarely get the chance to see; and a few notable highlights (of the many at Farr) for myself were Veronica Vasicka, Joey Anderson, Claro Intelecto, Galcher Lustwerk and Terekke.
A particular highlight of mine for the festival was White Material founder DJ Richard at the Campfire Headphase stage on the Saturday. With such an incredible back catalogue, and to seemingly play rarely in the UK, he was a must see for many of us.The Campfire Headphase stage was probably one of my favourite stages of the festival; with the three sided tent and carpeted flooring making it stand out distinctly from the usual stage you expect at a festival. That combined with the consistent sound levels and incredible programming over the weekend made it a fantastic stage, transforming perfectly from a more relaxed environment in the day – to a surreal club space at night.
DJ Richard’s 3 hour set from 01:00-04:00 here proved to me just how good DJ Richard is. His distinct style of driving, murky, yet often also euphoric dance music, very prevalent in his own productions showed through with this masterclass. He moved effortlessly between a range of tracks, and seemed to be in his element as he subtly grooved behind the decks. With all the quality acts on throughout Farr, DJ Richard’s set felt like it was over so quickly, even though he had probably one of the longest sets of the festival – a testament to how he can mesmerise a crowd with his talent.
Farr Festival has passed and has yet again lived up to expectations, with this year’s lineup boasting a host of stellar acts that I was incredibly keen to see; Skee Mask, Terekke, Josey Rebelle and Veronica Vasicka to name but a few.
Yet it was a surprise package in the form of 23 year old Marlon Hoffstadt who was most impressive for me – the head of the Berlin-based label ‘Retrograde’ played a fantastic early set at Ransom Note’s takeover of the ‘Adventures in Success’ stage on the Saturday afternoon in Baldock. Typically, it’s the peak-time headliners or closing acts that stick in the mind the most, with the crowd being at their loosest and the atmosphere being at its strongest.The art of setting the mood for the day can therefore be an unappreciated one, but despite Hoffstadt’s set lasting only 60 minutes, he set the tone perfectly, allowing heavyweights such as Lena Willikens and Roman Flügel to then build upon in the later hours. A varied mix of popular italo classics, 80s new beat and new wave as well as some more modern releases kept the crowd moving, with the ‘Adventures in Success’ stage moving from half-empty to bustling within the space of 30 minutes.
A couple of notable tracks include: ‘Charlie – Spacer Woman’, a timeless classic which has become a staple sound at any summer festival ‘Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind (Extended Dance Mix)’, a new-beat inspired dose of British pop culture history which garnered the largest reaction from the crowd.