The growing longevity of Farmfest can be attributed to its tasteful balance of local and international acts, whilst also embracing its family-friendly roots. Unbeknown to some, the two-day festival in Somerset has just celebrated its 12th year, but its growing popularity hasn’t affected its quality over quantity ethos. Enclosed in just two fields and five tents is an eclectic spread of music and performing arts, with one eye focused on the local community and the other dedicated to unearthing some true musical gems.
Friday afternoon boasted a high quality assortment of UK acts under looming dark clouds. Welsh trio Castles provided just the right dose of off-kilter psych grooves on the main stage, straddling both simplicity and finesse. Memorable sets by West Country indie acts Port Erin and Goan Dogs also shone through, with both delivering their own unique take on an overworked genre. A particular highlight of Farmfest’s curation was being able to witness an impressive late-night bill over at the acoustic tent whilst simultaneously Late Night Tales’ DJs spun euphoric disco in the Den. Label manager Peter Malla and his stablemates delivered rare disco, dusty grooves and chugging love jams to a packed out crowd, sufficiently warming the stage for fellow LNT heavyweight Bill Brewster.
The promise of free Bloody Marys led us into the Palladium tent on Saturday, as we also scurried to dodge the imminent downpour. While the weather didn’t fall in our favour this year, the music carried on unnervingly. Bristol rapper Dizraeli set the social conscience alight to families and unslept ravers alike, while later This Is The Kit’s delightful melodies enhanced by the dreary backdrop. Their charm is one of unhurried expression and candid sentiment which omitted a harmonious sensation that carried us through to the evening.
LNT DJs provided between set grooves over on the main stage – though their physical presence was only marked in the programme. One downside was the festival’s lack of signage and set times, which would have benefited from being plastered all over the site instead of being restricted to a programme that you had to pay for. Shapes proved a reliable pair of hands throughout the evening, especially as DJs spun a variety of dancefloor tracks and world groove to a tent primarily filled with fellow Bristolians.
A prime display of Farmfest’s diversity came in the way of 47SOUL, an electro Arabic dabka band from Jordan. Hyped up with analogue synthesizers, hypnotic guitar licks and shattering verse, their set proved to be just as much about moving the body as it was a call for celebration and freedom in a continuing struggle for equality.
The unwavering attention to quality in a short timeframe is ultimately what makes Farmfest shine. Gilcombe Farm may’ve been left as an absolute mud bath after this weekend, but hopefully festival-goers’ only regret was that they should have brought a better tent and perhaps traded their converse sneakers for a pair of wellies.