Back to count you the stories of the last two days of Farr Festival, The Waveform Transmitter’s Cameron Barnfield gives us the laydown of his festival experience and why he had such a swell time.
Those who read the first half of our Farr experience will probably be able to guess that we had a hell of a time. For those who didn’t – the best is yet to come. With Saturday and Sunday boasting names such as Paranoid London, Dixon, Zip, Hunee and Lena Willikens and our bearings and lungs accustomed to the festival grounds, the weekend slipped away Farr too quickly. Luckily, I’m able to relive it for you wonderful readers.
Our Saturday morning started just like the day before; drenched in sweat and grasping for water. However, the day did feel different; chants of ‘it’s coming home’ echoed around the campsite, with England’s quarter-final match against Sweden kicking off at 3. Farr’s extensive programming meant the day was jam-packed with artists, yet the organisers’ big weekend had to be interrupted by the one ‘successful’ campaign in years, for which provisions had to be made.
To the disgruntlement of the festival-goers, Farr ticketed the match, which was understandable considering the extra licensing and effort that the festival went through to make this possible. After missing out on tickets and our inherent need to live the fleeting World Cup dream, a reflective iPhone screen and some minimal 3G coverage did the job. Much to the elation of the thousands of people who flocked to Farr, the boys boxed it off with slab-head Maguire and Dele Alli making it a 2-0 win and freeing the worries of those who wanted another excuse to miss a day of work.
With spirits high and our 12 beer can limit diminished, the gang headed into the arena where Running Back boss Gerd Janson had just begun to play arguably one of the best sets of the weekend. With the woodland surroundings of The Shack adorning the Frankfurt DJ, Gerd Janson delivered a fusion of deep house, disco and old-skool house tracks. His new edit of the Entity Records classic ‘Don’t Go’ (Awesome 3) perfectly captured the mood, while Gerd’s choice of nostalgic 90s rave classics began to feel like football really had come home.
With our bellies almost reaching their beer capacity, we decided to venture out for a moment to grab some food as the temptation when entering the arena had provoked our curiosity. A display of colourful vans and enticing smells marked the edge of the arena offering a variety of scran. From a delicious smelling Thai van to a jerk chicken hut, to vegan-friendly burger bars and a Prosecco bar, Farr really did offer a whole host of edible goodies. Our ropey stomachs needed something earthy and after downing an impressively tasty vegan burger, we marched back into the canopy of The Shack as one of the most sought-after DJs, Dixon, was in charge of the dance.
There isn’t much left to say about Dixon, as the RA poll-topping DJ has been at the top of his game for quite some time. His distinctive drawn-out, dark melodic techno is something which fails to grow old as the Innervisions man controlled the swaying mass. A sea of bodies kept up to his pace, as he dropped some magnificent tracks of disco and shoe-gaze influenced techno, all within the boundaries of classic Dixon. The Juan Maclean’s ‘What Do You Feel Free About?’ was well received as the hypnotic vocals and ethereal melodic rises seized the crowd into his grip.
Dixon manned the wooden hut until dusk, finishing on a supposed unreleased edit of Pale Blue’s ‘You Stopped Dying’, making for an incredibly special moment as the sun splintered through the trees on its’ journey to darkness. Our prioritisation of Dixon unfortunately meant that, once again, I missed seeing George Fitzgerald for about the third festival running.
We knew that, if we were going to head back to the campsite to give our legs a rest and our thirsts a quench, the time was now. After a half hour break from the insatiable music that Saturday had to offer, we returned just in time for Amsterdam-based DJ and De School resident Job Jobse.
Still relatively unknown in the international electronic music scene, Jobse impressed with what can only be described as a unique, 80s electro-pop and Italo disco set. The combination of classic, borderline cheesy italo synths and four-to-the-floor kicks were perfect for The Shack by night. Winding his way through dark Italo moments from Duke Lake’s ‘Do You’ to 80s classics such as New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, Jobse perfectly tapped into the ‘lost in time’ vibe that Farr emanated.
I was extremely glad he played Pardon Moi’s ‘Power to the People’, a dirty yet uplifting number which accurately represents Job Jobse’s eccentric and alluring sound. The only thing that could top this off was the moment he united the entire crowd into a hair-raising chant of ‘It’s Coming Home’, by playing a snippet of the original Three Lions track, barely audible over the thousands of relentlessly proud voices singing under the summer moonlight. It may not have come home in the end, but the Dutch artist is responsible for one of my most memorable moments of the festival. Finally wrapping up proceedings with Dead Or Alive’s anthemic ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (Murder Mix), Jobse whet the appetites for a night of mysterious and murky soundscapes.
Reluctantly deciding we needed a change of scenery, we headed towards Adventures in Success to catch one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend, a live set from Paranoid London. Unfortunately, unless you were standing relatively close to the front, the London duo’s eerie, gritty sound was muffled, most likely due to the massive crowd that had come to be transported by their rumbling acid techno.
Paranoid London stayed true to their industrial, underground style, comprised of screeching 303 lines and some crunchy 909 and 808 drums, topped off by their trademark distorted rambling. Paranoid London, enshrined in a dark, amber, wood hut, bopped in the distance with their high-octane acid and their crazy vocalist emitting some seriously tasty music. We didn’t stick around for long, but long enough to hear the magnificent duo rattle Adventures in Success with their masterpiece, ‘Eating Glue’, a track which has gained almost legendary status amongst DJs and acid-aficionados.
And just like that, we were back to The Shack, which had gone through only a slight mood shift after Job Jobse’s italo-inspired grooves were followed by the analogous and brooding sound of London-based DJ and producer, Geddes. Straight out of a twisted 80s fantasy, Geddes’ set brought together incessant stabbing basslines and dark Chicago-esque house beats which saw those at The Shack all the way to the witching hour of three, where Willow was to see the dancers through to sunrise. Unfortunately, we also missed Lena Willikens, however Farr really had too much to offer. If only it had lasted all week… or year.
After an incredible hour at The Shack we decided to head over to Ma Dahu’s, where I have just found out that we wandered into a second Paranoid London set, provided to make up for Moodymann’s late withdrawal. I would have liked Farr to replace the mysterious DJ with a similar calibre and type of artist, but my worries were forgotten once again after Paranoid London took full advantage of the Ma Dahu sound-system.
Now, if there was one man who really did take advantage of the insane low frequencies emitted from the Funktion One rig, it was Amsterdam-based William Djoko. The cool-looking, floral clad Djoko is a DJ who has more than earned his stripes after over ten years of producing and mixing without much acclaim. In the past few years Djoko’s popularity has really taken off, and rightly so; his fusion of rhythmic tribal percussion coupled with chest-shaking basslines extracts the primitive groove within us all. We stayed for a while with Djoko whilst he built upon stripped-back percussive house, building the set with more interesting and complicated rhythms whilst staying true to himself with the incessant rumbling subs he loves to use.
As Djoko swayed under the navy speckled sky, we became aware that the clock was crawling towards curfew and more importantly towards Manchester-based breakthrough DJ Willow, who had been given the graveyard slot (although I don’t believe there is such a thing at festivals). After a fairy-tale story of Move D’s unearthing of Willow at Gottwood (the story goes: Move D released Willow’s ‘Feel Me’ after hearing it seep from her tent – crazy huh!) we rushed open-mindedly to see if Willow could reproduce some more festival magic.
If Willow’s productions are ambient soundscapes of warbling dreams, then her mixes are the dark nightmares to be lived by those brave enough to stay out till sunrise. Her ability to shift through genres and styles was astounding, as she played pounding tracks ranging from filthy electro to jacking techno and house. Straying slightly left-of-field Willow’s ear for the weird and wild tracks that underground electronic music has produced is something only replicable by very few DJs. This is something truly special for someone so early in her career.
The slapping drums and bizarre vocals of Furfriend’s ‘Fist Fuck’ typify Willow’s desire to unearth the most boundary-pushing elements of the 120bpm genre. As the sun creept up through the leaves, Willow led the crowd from dark robotic electro to the murky, dubstep influenced Objekt track, ‘The Goose That Got Away’, to euphoric acid moments in ‘LV-426’ (Kiani & His Legion presents Far Out Radio Systems); all evidence of the sheer versatility that this DJ obtains. Before we knew it, the sun was fully up and so was our time at The Shack and we begrudgingly began the dreaded walk back and the impending lack of sleep upon us. Time to get our head down before the sun comes a knockin’.
After six hours of semi-decent sleep, I woke up feeling fairly fresh. I put another can of beans out to cook in the sun (I really am proud of this invention…) and grabbed a smoothie, revitalising my poor body with some much-needed nutrients. Some of my campmates weren’t so fresh, with a small pile of sick marking our territory. Sat around the campsite, we revelled in the sun and discussed last night’s proceedings as we were all still on such a high after the sheer quality of music experienced. After queuing up and undergoing the experience that was the Russian roulette of the shower (the ideal one was the shower which alternated from hot to cold), we were replenished and cleansed and more than ready to take in what Farr had left to offer.
Our final walk to the arena allowed us to take in the final edition of Ant Carver’s masterpiece and the music blaring from The Factory drew us into the last couple of tracks of Dan Shake’s set; some uplifting disco never goes amiss when the sun is shining. Following on from Mr. Shake was a young Dutchman that goes by the name of Interstellar Funk. Merging elements of old house with nu-disco and indie sounds, Interstellar Funk played a warm set distant from the dark memories of the night before.
The summer breeze and gorgeous synths of Interstellar Funk meant that before we knew it, the small hand had reached six and beckoned us back to the dusty plains of Ma Dahu’s, where the accomplished ZIP was on for a special four-hour set. The Sunday had a different feeling to the last two days; finishing at eleven, the final day felt almost felt like it was a weird afterparty for the festival as many punters had already packed up and left to grab a day of rest before the week began.
We, however, needed no rest and ZIP assured us that no rest was available as he meandered through soft minimal soundscapes of 4/4 beats. His stage presence was menacing – a thin man with wispy grey hair, who would occasionally look up and grin at what his music was doing to people. The crowd was bizarrely in sync with ZIP and the set felt like ZIP was in the crowd himself, telling some man behind the decks what tracks to play.
The dust caused by the feet of those still standing enclosed the dancers in a magical mist, whilst Franzmann took it upon himself to waltz through jazzy selections and more than enough Villalobos tracks to tease the ear. A stripped back distant drum beat coupled with murmuring vocals exposed the intro of Villalobos’ remix of ‘Cellphone’s Dead’ by Beck, with the track building in ways only Villalobos is capable of. A ghetto-esque vocal of ‘One by one I’ll knock you out’ caused a few heads to spin with mouths agape as ZIP’s menacing smile assured us that track by track he’ll knock our heads off. Although we had grand plans to see Rush Hour boss Antal, ZIP completely nailed the Sunday set. Hats off to Farr for this programming – we originally wished for some of the acts to be spread out, however it is completely understandable now why they programmed it the way they did. I praise Farr highly for this.
An abrupt stop to the music left us all rather confused on what was happening. We should’ve expected the worst; the end of his set. Sadly, we followed the masses who were all heading towards The Factory, where only one man could be closing the whole festival; Rush Hour co-founder Hunee. Hunee is one of the most astounding DJs I have had the pleasure to experience time and time again, as his passion for unearthing tribal disco cuts combined with his ability to mix anything always results in a spellbinding set; Farr was no different.
Hunee played into the remaining hour of the festival with a backdrop of the last few rides on the swings and Ferris wheel. Although we had more than enough reasons to be gutted, Hunee made sure spirits were kept high as he played the unreleased and shit-hot Four Tet edit of Nelly Furtado’s ‘Afraid’ – a track which will surely be getting it’s wear and tear over the next six months. With anthems rinsed and spirits raised, the unfortunate time had come. The end was upon us.
Our walk back to the campsite gave us a few things; the chance to see a man with a Men In Black Ballchinian mask (oh festivals, you weird, weird things), the chance to grab the last of the Thai food and a pint of Red Stripe, but most importantly it gave us the chance to reflect on the weekend as a whole. The security and staff were friendly and helpful from start to finish, making our weekend a very easy and enjoyable experience.
Farr’s meticulous programming in all things creative was clear; the festival grounds were full of sensory delights from thought-provoking and trippy pieces of art to the plethora of colour that illuminated the forest late at night and not to mention the great range of food that was provided. The festival really did think about the set times and places as I felt that each stage had its own character every night, which was all down to the wonderful DJs that Farr had picked for crowd control.
Finally, the artists which Farr had chosen were nothing short of perfect, with the day hosting a range of music from soul and disco to the rough hip-hop of Octavian, to jazzy feel-good music from the likes of Tom Misch all the way to the industrial rough sounds of Stingray and DVS1.
Farr Festival 2018, you were an absolute pleasure and I’d like to thank all those behind the hard work put into the weekend – it really made for a special festival experience and I’m sure I’ll be back next year to do it all again. Until next time!
All images © Tina Kondouli (The Kondouli Experiment)