Farm Festival 2012 review – Get on their land

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Farmfestival 2012

This is the second time I’ve been to Farm Festival, and it was comforting in the way that a tatty old blanket can be. The ticket price was the same (a very affordable £40), the campsite was in the same place. Even the security staff looked familiar. The one issue with this dependable format is many of the bands that played last year were playing again this year, but so what? They’re good. It didn’t matter.

Friday

The festival started on a Friday. The crowd was remarkably calm – despite the surging mass of healthy-looking teenagers eagerly necking organic cider, there was very little boisterous behaviour. People helped each other put up tents, and families mingled with stag parties and groups of school-leavers. There was an air of relaxation that doesn’t occur at other festivals, namely because Farm Festival is so small. The main arena is a stone’s throw from the campsite, so there isn’t the normal rush to get hammered, then head out. People enjoyed their Sainsbury’s-bought picnics, then headed off to the main arena to look at the shops selling the usual festival tat. Happily, there weren’t many rip-off merchants selling charity shop rubbish as ‘vintage couture’, but the ones that did were largely ignored by the crowd, young and old alike.

I remembered soon after arriving that Farm Festival isn’t really about the live music – that just settles into the background comfortably. Over the whole weekend, I didn’t see one group of people racing from stage to stage to catch a band. The bands are just there to languidly take in and enjoy – of course, it helps that none of them are household names yet.

Crowd

Predictably, after dark, Friday night turned into an alcohol-fuelled paradise. Crowds of people danced in decadently-decorated tents to club classics, romped over painted 4X4s (don’t worry, they were there to play with) and lay on the grass in a stupor. My friends and I had a great time, until we abandoned our brilliant dance tent for ‘an even better tent’, which turned out to be a small group of people dancing to Dubstep. I felt at this point that Farm Festival is exactly how older people must view such gatherings – there were no surprises. People were having fun, wearing garlands of flowers in their hair, dancing to pop music and being sick. At not one point over the weekend did I spot anyone fabulously dressed, or feel like I was out of my depth in a certain crowd. We were asked if we were ‘selling’ at one point, which resulted in hoots of scornful laughter and an embarrassed, shuffling teenage boy, but I wouldn’t say that Farm Festival is particularly geared towards vast amounts of drug-taking. There is a refreshing lack of attitude that comes with the festival – people are just there to drink, dance and have a good time without being overly-provocative.

Singing to the crowd

After staggering back to the tent at 11.30pm (I know, shut up), we witnessed the only aggression we’d see all weekend. Two teenage boys were having a spat outside a tent over what appeared to be the length of time you wait for a friend outside a toilet. We knew the fight had ended, and retired to our beds, when one lad sneered, “You’re not in North London now, mate.” Quite.

Saturday

Saturday, much like Friday, was equally relaxed. We were all hungover, so set about accumulating vast amounts of tea and cake. Farm Festival knew what we needed – a quiet spot in the corner of a large tent with blankets on the floor, and magazines to leaf through. It was absolute heaven, helped by the fact that a nearby stall was selling cheap hot drinks and sweet treats. Just so you know, the food was always reasonably-priced, and good quality. The Farm Festival hog roast is legendary, and the veggie food is delicious and varied.

The day dragged on slightly because, and I mean this kindly, there wasn’t much to do. You’re basically stuck in a large hot field with plenty of space, but hardly anything grabs the imagination. Nobody knew of any bands they’d like to see, with the exception of the tremendous Matt Winkworth and The Winkworthers Originals, and apart from the battered 4X4, there were few art installations or physical activities to enjoy. My friends entered the tug-of-war, but this was tainted for them when the girls’ team ungraciously pointed out that they were men, and therefore on the wrong team. It didn’t matter – the mean-spirited girls lost anyway. Saturday night’s headliners didn’t compare to Friday’s heroes, the marvellous Man Like Me, and all in all people seemed to be tired. Wine was drunk, and the 4X4 took another battering, but we all agreed that the high point of the day had been sitting by our tents getting steadily inebriated and telling funny stories. I am loath to admit that I was in bed at 11pm due to the five-hour drive I had to undertake on Sunday, and slept well. That’s another nice thing about Farm Festival, the noise levels at night aren’t ridiculous. You can get eight hours, if you need to.

Final word

So, what to make of Farm Festival? Is it worth it? Absolutely. Providing you’re with a huge gang of people that make you laugh, you’ll have an absolute ball. I wouldn’t expect a high overall standard of music – I doubt very much you’ll ever have to struggle to make it to the barriers that separate the artists from the crowd – but this is a gem of a festival that should be supported and enjoyed as nature intended. Don’t feel guilty about bringing some good books, a rug, and a vat of Beaujolais – you won’t be judged.

Farm Festival metrics:

Percentage of middle-class parents: 25%
Percentage of people seeking casual sex: 5%
Number of people wearing novelty costumes: Approx. 30
Number of people mocking costume-wearers: 0
State of toilets: Dreadful
Chances of being able to score drugs: Low
Average price of a woven garland for hair accessorising: £5
Overall atmosphere: Laid-back, unthreatening, open-minded and friendly

For more Farmfestival information click here.