Farr Festival 2016: Another Great Year | Review

It’s July, and the festival season is in full swing. In the thick of summer, everyone is flitting between music events of all kinds; new or established, mainstream or underground, testing the vibes on the coast; dancing and day-drinking at inner city venues. We’ve seen it all, haven’t we?

Farr Festival is a pint-sized 5,000 capacity boutique event located in Hertfordshire’s Bygrave Woods. Now in its seventh year, Farr brings an eclectic selection of producers, selectors, and performers to warm your ears.

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from London, its location was the first way the festival inched ahead of the others: it was a place where Londoners could reach an endless patchwork quilt of green, running through ears of corn to party with mates they hadn’t met yet. They could lose themselves to woodland dancing, and enjoy a setting shared with cutting edge electronic music names such as Hunee, Ben UFO, Midland, Joy Orbison, Max Cooper, John Talabot and Move D. All of this magic and intimacy, just half an hour away from the madness of the capital.

Since home is just down the road, arriving at the festival on Friday was a short and surreal journey from a suburban idyll into a positively charged euphoria. We were greeted by a smiley steward at the end of a village lane: ‘are you here for the party?’ – yes, we are.

Friday evening started early by Ben UFO, Midland, and Joy Orbison, who played a six hour back to back set, dipping into everything from house to disco to garage to Jungle. We were torn between these guys and Jeremy Underground, who was playing at The Shack at the same time, and kept the crowd in the palm of his hand, dancing to his melodic selection. Meanwhile, back at base camp, the atmosphere also played a large part of this festival’s making of the extra mile. Already in good company, we shared bagged wine, crisps and strong cider with various different groups of people and all with great conversation. We tested enough of a cross-sample of social setups that statistically, this was a quality crowd; a farr cry from shallow, shuffling New Balance wearing clones unwittingly sucking the soul out of the electronic music circuit (… OK, there were a few hundred pairs of New Balance). The setup of stages, stalls, and extra features was small and easily navigable; food included curly fries, falafel, and all the usual trimmings.

At 2 am, amped up by the dancing crowd and primed by some overpriced but essential vodka, came the moment we awaited with baited breath. Seeing Hunee once this summer at Gottwood Festival was memorable enough to fuel excitement. Softly lit by the purple hues of lights dancing off the trees, framed by the corrugated iron sheets forming the stage prop, and surrounded by washing lines of brightly coloured clothes which danced in the breeze above the audience, his mix shone with bright funk – if not a lacking the required level of punchy bass, which escaped into the wind. Hunee’s mastery of his set meant that 4 am was too early for the festival to close even though birds had started chirping already. Unfortunately, this marked the end of the weekend for us, because we only came for Friday. We were gutted to miss John Talbot and Max Cooper on Saturday, but really happy that it was such a beautiful and fleeting experience.

What. A. Night.

Photography by Michael Njunge for Here & Now