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So Farr, So Good!

So Farr, So Good!

Harry Fell, The Wandsworth Radio Dance Show Host reviews Farr Festival 2018.

After a big ‘ole perspire due to pitching our tents in the blistering heat we bee-lined to our first act of the weekend, Gerd Janson, and what a setting. Disco in the forest, not sure that it gets any better than that. Imagine all those walks around your local woodland and how much you wished that you could relive the raves in the trees from Skins and you’re pretty much there, and then some. It was a shame that Gerd’s set clashed a bit with the football as I would’ve loved to have seen the whole thing but hopefully there’ll be other opportunities in years to come. My personal highlight of his set was his drop of DJ Koze’s, Pick Up, which had the crowd absolutely bouncing in the dusty thicket. On a total high following the football and disco we then went on the hunt for food to line our stomach’s before the evening’s revelry, and we were not disappointed. The Chicken Shack delivered one of the best – and quickest – meals(buffalo fried chicken burger with blue cheese) I’ve ever had at a festival, and I’ve been to a few. I hope they return for next year because if not, they’ll be missed.

Farr’s incredible setting – Photo Credit – @jamesnorthphoto and @hirobjones

Next on the list was seeing what the House of Dinosaur tent had to offer, and to be frank, I actually don’t know what more it could have offered! Banging tunes, Great vibes, Inflatable dinosaurs, Hula Hooping, Glitter, Hip-Hop Yoga and a Boyband Workshop but to name a few of the goings on in the House. The only downside was that it finished up around 10pm but I suppose this did allow us to go and see possibly my favourite act across the weekend, Maribou State, at The Factory(Main Stage). They were everything that you wanted in a live act. The performance was sonically incredible, totally magical and completely in keeping with the beautiful surroundings.

Closing The Factory on Saturday was British DJ & Radio 1 legend Benji B, who saw it out, with a football themed final half an hour, celebrating England’s progress to the Semi Final, getting on the mic and revving up the crowd with aplomb. It was the perfect way to up the tempo following the floaty beats which came from Maribou State and had me totally ready to dance the night away.

Unfortunately (for me) thereafter the music across the forest wasn’t really to my taste. It was pretty unrelenting heavy techno which kind of all moulds into one if it’s not your jam. I understand that there is obviously a market for it and the deep dirty beat is pretty iconic but an option of house or disco on a stage after 1am would have been received welcomely as the general consensus i received from fellow punters was that more variation was wanted in the latter/earlier hours. That being said, it was still a killer experience to mooch about the forest, half cut, feeling the beat beneath your feet with the lights glistening in the trees. On that note, the lighting, decoration and general ambience of the Forest was excellent and truly added to the overall setting of enchantment.

After the rude awakening by the relentless heatwave(I’ve never been hotter in a tent in my life) on the Sunday morning we ventured to the main arena for a desperately needed breakfast and bit of shade as the two breakfast vans in the campsite had enormous queues and I couldn’t handle being stood in direct sunlight without a breeze in the air. Another brekkie van would have been nice to disrupt the queues but I suppose it’s not Farr’s fault that I was ridiculously hungover and it was the hottest day of the year to date!

The Sunday Session at Farr was a much more chilled affair. There wasn’t any music to be heard on the main two stages in the forest(The Shack & Adventures of Success) but that mattered not as we found comfort in the House of Dinosaur, where everyone is welcome to do as much or as little as they please. The joy encompassing this tent was enough to make you forget that you’ve got work next week and you hardly had any sleep last night. The positive energy which embodies this large group of performers and entertainers makes you just want to get involved and start dancing the hangover away, living by the motto of ‘always doing the wrong thing at just the right time’, which seems like a pretty good mantra to me. Personal Highlights from the HoD was Yoga in the morning (not that I did it but the energy created soothed my soul tenfold); dynamic divas ’Slutdrop’ in the afternoon who played an eclectic mix of 90’s pop, disco and classic house which was so feel good that I simply couldn’t resist getting up to shake my booty despite being sober as a judge; and finally the closing set by DJ Onlee who mixed seamlessly with real creativity, bringing the house(of Dinosaur) down in sensational style with New Order’s Blue Monday, ensuring that at least we weren’t feeling blue on the Sunday.

In between acts we managed to explore the forest in the more detail, checking out the hot tubs, independent cocktail bar and boutique festival couture stalls which completely encapsulated the general feel of a relaxed Sunday, which often turns to out be the best of festival days, with zero pressure or weight of expectation, the ‘going with the flow’ usually makes for a special day allowing total freedom and a happy go lucky zest which can so often be trampled on by a festival pretending that the crowd will still have the same lust for the non stop rave like they do on previous days.

We ended our memorable weekend dancing away to disco DJ, Hunee at The Factory who put pay to the festival finishing with a whimper; his funky soulful grooves ensured that he had the crowd in the palm of his hand and it was absolutely what the doctor ordered after a lounging Sunday and a general weekend of sweatiness.

A couple of personal dampeners:

1 – Showers were too expensive and not plentiful enough. £25 for a weekend pass is excessive when people are dancing and sweating in the dustiest woodland I’ve ever been in, especially when they’ve already paid £150 for the privilege of being there.

2 – The setup for England’s Quarter Final against Sweden was less than ideal as without one of the tickets(which sold out online in half an hour, days before the festival) to watch the game on the big screen at The Factory I was forced to watch one of the biggest games in a generation on my gf’s iPhone. Not quite how I envisioned it following the victory against Columbia. Thankfully the 4g signal was decent otherwise I fear there might have been a riot. With this in mind it is important to remember that Festival’s are not about Football and it would be wrong to lay too much judgement upon Farr with how it was handled. It’s not easy what with all the licensing etc that goes with it. And to be fair, Glastonbury doesn’t show any sport whatsoever when it’s on. So I suppose that we were lucky to have any option at all!

3 – Drinks prices were also too steep in my opinion. My sister manages a gastropub in Central London and a pint of Cider costs more at Farr. £5.50 or £6 for anything on draught is a bit much at a festival for me, the going rate seems about £5 for a beer at a festival/gig and it’s pretty cheeky to be so steep when there is such a limit to the amount of alcohol that can be brought into the grounds(zero spirits).

4 – Security seemed a bit intense and aggy for the festival crowd. It’s a pretty loose but harmless demographic at Farr and maybe I missed something but there was an anomisity from certain bouncers which felt totally unnecessary and threatened to sour the mood at times. That being said, I’ve never tried to keep nearly 10,000 people safe at 1am in a Forest, so what do I know?

Overall it was a great weekend and I had a huge amount of fun in Farr’s fabulous forestry, so it’s definitely worth a visit, but in a saturated market which has noisy neighbour’s such as Standon Calling just down the road, I think there’s room for improvement. Things seem needlessly spread out and a bit sparse in places, it’s not a big festival. I’d like it to feel a bit more intimate or for there to be more ‘stuff’ there, I can’t put my finger on it but I felt something was missing from the weekend. Don’t get me wrong I had a fantastic time but the woodland setting wasn’t quite enough to make it an unmissable event on the festival calendar for me. On the contrary to that though, next year is the 10th anniversary and promises to be the best one yet of this ever expanding Party in the Woods, so it’d be rude not to see what it had in store! Keep an eye out on the Farr website – www.farrfestival.co.uk – for when the 2019 date is released.

 

July 23rd, 2018

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