One of the sacrifices a dedicated festival pilgrim must make in the British summer, is being a slave to long journeys and at the mercy of the weather. Therefore, in the weeks and days leading up to the 2013 edition of Farr Festival, during an uncharacteristic July heatwave, we looked forward to a weekend that would offer neither of those inconveniences. Located just outside the M25, meant the evening commute from London (or in this case, graduation in Bristol) could be made without much of a sweat, still leaving time to pitch up before the party had reached full swing. And what a party. Spread over just two days and nights condensed the festivities into two bursts of energy on Friday and Saturday that were over almost before you’d had time to take it all in.
After taking in the sunset over the corn fields from the campsite, we let Futureboogie bring in the party at the stage they were hosting. Label co-boss Joe90 played a B2B with Christophe full of deep and dark house, with the Carl Craig remix of LCD Soundsystem being a particular highlight. Our journey out of the woods was delayed by the irresistible sounds of Outboxx, in the tent curated by fellow Bristolians and Francophiles, Pardon My French. Then onto the main stage, a new edition from the previous year, set away from the woods and hosted by Numbers. Oneman performed the kind of musically dexterous set he’s built his name on, playing Floating Points ARP3 alongside a remix of Kanye West’s New Slave, then dusting off Craig David’s Re-wind for a trip down memory lane for many of the twenty-something audience. He stayed put for a B2B with Jackmaster and, as expected, the genre pinballing continued, with the Numbers boss reaching as far out as Toto – Africa.
With much of the campsite a little slower to make a move on Saturday, we encountered Bygrave Woods in a remarkably different appearance. It was no longer spilling over with people, consumed by the dust kicked up by frenzied dancers, but just a series of small canvasses covering modestly-sized DJ booths. The illusion was testament to the simple yet hugely effective stage planning on Farr’s part. For the moment, the relative calm was most welcomed as we were still nursing our bodies back to full health. Bristol’s Tudor Lion also helped, soothing our ears with some choice cuts of dub and reggae. It was a change from the preceding and subsequent evenings dominated by house, and offered a variety that perhaps could’ve been built on more.
Saturday evening seemed to be dominated by one man, despite him not even being on site. Proclaimed by Skream as a contender for song of the summer, Paul Woolford’s latest offering on Hotflush was played on three separate occasions: first by Waze & Odyssey, both sporting Nixwax stickers, then by Ejeca (after a sprinkling of Stardust) and finally by festival closers Bicep. It’s difficult be as conclusive as Skream, but that monster piano hook definitely made Untitled the standout track of Farr. For the curtain call we were torn between the Martinez Brothers on the Main Stage and Andrew Weatherall and Bicep in the woods. Thankfully our frantic shimmying was timed well enough to hear two very different but equally fitting tracks by the former (above) and latter (below).
In our review last year, we hoped that Farr would retain its boutique charm as it inevitably grew in stature. Wind forward to 2013 and the transition from a family run party in Bigrave Woods to a certified and fully-fledged festival was made with finesse. The jokes about how Farr actually wasn’t that far away, got a bit repetitive come Sunday. But it really did emphasise the how much fun could be had at a weekend festival, while still staying in range to listen to RinseFM all the way home. Thank you Farr Family, for proving that size really doesn’t matter.
Photos by Bokah