Main photo (c) Alex Morgan
It’s a sunny Friday evening and I’m in a field in Somerset pitching my tent. I’m pleasantly surprised by the buzz in the air. Farmfest consists of simply punter’s camping, crew camping, a car park and a festival field; it’s not exactly Glastonbury, but then it’s not trying to be either – what Farmfest lacks in size it makes up for in a friendly atmosphere and surprising array of music.
Inside the festival field an impressive display of food stalls, circus apparatus, cabaret and music tents, and of course stages are on offer. Despite the size the organizers haven’t skimped on things to do. Five piece Pumarosa hailing from London are on the main stage and lead singer Isabel Munoz-Newsome is belting out tunes. I get the impression most punters haven’t long since arrived and are enjoying their first band of the festival.
Next up in a crowded sweaty tent I’m front and centre for Brighton based DJ Format and after a decade apart reuniting with Canadian MC Abdominal. The lively crowd are clearly happy to see the two back together playing a selection of their old classics and newly written material. Including their critically acclaimed double A side ‘We Say”/”Reflective Meditation Rhymes’. Part way through their set I excuse myself to get a drink. It’s on my way back I can see the tent has swelled to overcapacity and punters are having to enjoy the duo from the grass outside. All the more emboldening DJ Format and MC Abdominal’s enjoyment of playing together again.
There’s just enough time to get a pint before New Orleans The Hot 8 Brass Band are on, going straight into a big fun-filled brass band sound and they don’t let up until they’re done. The Hot 8 Brass Band know how to work the stage and are the sort of band that are made for festivals.
Given the selection of international, national and south west talent on offer you would think that’s where everyone would be but walking around the festival I come across a big red stationary train blasting out the best of 70s funk and soul. When you’ve got to get your fix, you’ve just got to get your fix it seems. The kids are particularly enamoured by the music and vibe on offer here too.
I awake the next morning pleasantly surprised the sun is still out, and after managing to source a delightful mushroom burger, I sit down to enjoy the sounds of Bristol band New Palace Talkies in The Sett stage; with their melodic sound, they’re perfect for a chilled Saturday morning.
Amongst the bleary eyes and weary folk is a wonderful mix of people of all ages and families. Farmfest excels in accommodating all ages and tastes. Sadly if I have one complaint it is the vegetarian selection. The mushroom burger was about the only vegetarian option available with almost every stall having sold out of their vegetarian food very early on. Hopefully this can be rectified for next year.
It’s mid-afternoon by now and Bristol based Stevie Parker is playing the main stage. I can see why she’s now making a name for herself with her infectious melodic songs, song-writing and indie-pop sound. Sadly, Swedish DJ Baba Stiltz had missed his flight – but Crucial and Fresh are a welcome antidote.
Saturday’s headliner Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson gets the crowd going with his Brazil inspired samba beats and a rendition of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. His two-hour-long set is over too soon. The night is finished off in The Kitchen tent by Bristol’s own Shapes DJ crew spinning the decks until 4am. After 11 years, Farmfest still manages to achieve their ethos of homemade, down to Earth, creative, resourceful, collaborative and affordable music and family fun. Here’s to 2017.
Check out The Hot 8 Brass Band covering ‘Sexual Healing’ below: