With a track record of booking up-and-coming artists such as Ed Sheeran, Ben Howard and Hozier in their early days, Barn On The Farm is the festival for anyone passionate about new music.
The crowd is made up of musicians, artists and genuine music lovers who are all friendly and excited to be there. Volunteers play a big part in the festival, the lure of a free ticket in return for a few short shifts brings more of them each year, but it’s the family vibe that ensures their return. The security briefing is welcoming and laid back which sets the tone for the whole weekend. The Head of Health and Safety’s speech goes along the lines of “if you see someone being a dick, ask them to stop being a dick. If they’re still being a dick, tell security, who will ask them to stop being a dick.” Too easy.
This independent festival comes from humble beginnings, its story written in this year's festival programme by organiser Josh Sanger. Whilst he attributes a lot of the success to a series of fortunate bookings it is clear that not only are the team great at discovering and booking up-and-coming artists, but that the festival is also highly organized and well thought out. The attention to detail is second to none; from volunteers who will help to pitch your tents and carry your stuff from your car, to set timings that mean very few clashes and always music to watch on one of the three stages.
The stages were close enough that you could walk between them in a matter of minutes, but sound quality was excellent and not impaired at all. Even with almost every person at the main stage for the headliner each night it was still possible to see the stage well from wherever you ended up. Between two of the stages is the family farmhouse, with front door constantly ajar and the resident labrador wandering in and out.
The sense of community on this small farm was something really special, and clearly what keeps people coming back. The audiences aren’t the only people returning; so many of the artists also love to come back to the farm. A few of them, like Hudson Taylor, Martin Luke Brown, and Orla Gartland, who have all played at the festival before, were not on the line up this year but were in attendance anyway and regularly spotted watching music or drinking in the sunshine.
Despite some less-familiar names on the line up, you were unlikely to be disappointed with what you managed to see. The line up is excellently curated, and the artists are clearly also chosen with their live performance credentials in mind. We saw so many brilliant sets that it’s hard to narrow it down but the highlights were Prose - hated by security but apparently loved by the girls in the camp-site, Isaac Gracie, who gets better every time we see him; OUTLYA, the lead singer was like an excited puppy all weekend, he was having the best time and never removed his branded shirt.
Sundara Karma came to the festival straight from smashing John Peel at Glastonbury and managed to rock the main stage just as hard; Lany, who headlined the Outdoor Stage on Saturday and provided perfect fun Saturday night vibes; Amber Run, who are a consistently amazing live band and regulars on the farm; Tom Grennan, is definitely worth checking out at another festival this summer if you get the chance; and finally Jade Bird, who is a seriously impressive and emotive singer and also happens to be the girlfriend of equally awesome Burnz.
After the monumentally talented Tom Odell finished playing on Sunday night, we headed to the now-closed courtyard bar for the crew party. With free booze it was like bees to a honey pot and on arrival we realised that the artists had also all crashed this party. We later ended up in the artist camping area, with two guitars, a ukulele and an awful lot of very talented musicians. Nothing could have rounded out the festival experience better than sitting around a fire, singing with Martin Luke Brown, Hudson Taylor, Amber Run, Burnz, Jordan Mackampa, Josh Savage, Leila from OHKE, Ash Bates, and Lewis Watson’s dad. Jordan Mackampa’s solo fireside performance was the highlight and left everyone speechless.
Barn On The Farm is the kind of festival that will keep you coming back. Festival Director Josh Sanger says in the programme that he had a vision of creating a connection and “blurring the lines between artist and audience”, perfectly represented by the photo below showing Joe from Amber Run, Harry and Ronan from Hudson Taylor, and Lewis Watson watching Flyte perform, with the lead singer of OUTLYA stood to the left, and Orla Gartland on the right; such a lovely display of support from fellow artists who also embrace the farm’s values.
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Words: Helena Cochran
Photo Credit: Daniel A Harris - LINK