Farmfest 2017 @ Bruton, Somerset, 29-30/07/2017

Farmfest 2017Mud, mud, mud and more mud. The week had already seen the downfall of Truck and Y Not Festival because of the weather. Other events have survived – among them 2000Trees and Secret Garden Party – but not without their scars. Getting into the car for a short trip from Bristol to the Farmfest 2017 site near Bruton, we can only pray the DIY two-dayer falls into the second category.

Black skies immediately suggest rain is inevitable, and sure enough, within five minutes we’re getting soaked. We have two comfort keepers on our side: a gold waterproof jacket, and a pop-up tent. These two hardy friends see us through until the beginning of our musical experience, which just so happens to be Mr. Beans on Toast. Although appearing high on the Friday bill, McAllister swans onto the main stage around tea time for a standard set of socio-political commentary. The crowd isn't as well acquainted with his work as audiences usually are, and while some look taken aback, everyone fails miserably to fill in a call-and-response. The wet weather has a lot to do with the lack of enthusiasm: the audience seems determined to have a good time, but when buckets full of rain are getting thrown in your face, you can only react in so many ways.

The next few hours feature similarly blighted performances, and Port Erin and Febeuder both put on a brave face. What Friday night really needs is a pick me up, but instead Farmfest 2017 provides downbeat indie rock and trip hop inspired dance music, with only a few exceptions. One such performance comes from Bristol trio Elder Island, who are staged at the same time as Beans on Toast but still fair well as they’re playing inside a tent. Upbeat and raising the roof, the festival would benefit from the band performing louder, longer, and in a more prevalent setting.

Instead, the task of livening things up on the main stage is given to fellow Bristolians Goan Dogs, who have pulled off some kind of stunt and bagged the second headline set for the evening. Performing a cover of Wham alongside their characteristic Western style rock, what the weather’s doing becomes void and the five-piece successfully reign in the attention before main headliners Shobaleader One. The Squarepusher project is a strange one: stylistically offering the midway point between Public Service Broadcasting and Daft Punk, they use live instruments to create a frantic pace with plenty of rhythm. Oddly it both works and doesn't work. It’s the lack of promised visuals that ultimately let the gig down: it turns out said spectacle is light up helmets which fail to make an impression – especially when compared to other artists who are billed as a visual experience.

We begin Saturday morning in the same way Friday night ends: hiding in our tent, pretending the weather isn't happening. The Farmfest 2017 site is holding up remarkably well, and scenes from the first year we attended (see: overflowing portaloos) are miles off. However, puddles are beginning to form and the swamp-fixing sawdust has been reserved for the main entrance only. Mud is very much a feature.

Dragging ourselves away from our safe haven, we finally trudge towards the main stage to the pristine sound of Low Island, whose breakthrough hit "Just About Somewhere" warms the soul if not the cockles. Their set is over all too soon, but not to worry: Farmfest 2017 has laid on a smashing round of musicians to fill Saturday. Over the next few hours, we're treated to amazing sets from Cousin Kula and Wasuremono, two promising local bands who aren't given the exposure they deserve nearly often enough.

Despite having the potential to shine in another situation, these performances are not the highlights of the day. That's because one band very nearly literally blows us out of the water, and that band is BC Camplight. The Bella Union signees offer up movable rock with classic undertones for a solid hour, and their spiky stage talk is yet another reason to love their set.

As though Farmfest 2017 are attempting to kill us with kindness, their performance is followed by This is the Kit, who are the second headliners of the main stage. Kate Stables shows us how it's whatever the weather, by laying on the charm and soundtracking the rain with her band's always beautifully performed tracks. Her stage presence is such that standing in the rain actually seems like fun, and unsurprisingly the audience swells throughout the set.

Our evening comes to a close, not with headliners Roots Manuva, but Finnish punk band Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?. The trio plays in the ordinarily subdued yellow tent, which is part of the reason we get to see them - the rain is getting a bit much, at this point. What we end up participating in becomes a defining moment of the festival. Perhaps it's the lack of brash guitar music elsewhere and our consequent thirst for something dirty: perhaps it's the local cider: perhaps their talent is genuine, but Jane Fonda is diabolically good. The band is probably also the cheapest booking of the night. Who said you need to spend money to have fun?

Drenched despite our gold waterproof and in desperate need of a warm cup of tea, we half heartedly visit the dance tents that will boom long into the night, but decide to call it a day soon after the music stops. Farmfest 2017 has been a wet one, but hey - at least the music persevered.


One Response to “Farmfest 2017 @ Bruton, Somerset, 29-30/07/2017”


    1. Farmfest 2017 @ Bruton, Somerset, 29-30/07/2017 – Live List - 03/08/2017

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