While walking down the track of Over Farm, the last thing you’d expect to come across is a festival which has boasted headline sets from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard. The 1,500 capacity festival has gone from strength to strength following its creation in 2010, with every year being the “best year yet”.
The weekend kicked off for a lucky few on the Friday night. With the intimate Friday tickets selling out before any act is announced, you can tell what kind of festival this is before any of the music begins. The 200 lucky people onsite early clearly have faith in the organisers and it does not take long to see why.
A headline set on the tiny Wooden Barn Stage from previous Main Stage headliner Gabrielle Aplin showcased her new material ahead of her upcoming album Light Up The Dark. A surprise set from Hudson Taylor was met with equal excitement especially during a special performance of ‘Don’t Know Why’ which featured special guests Joe Keogh of Amber Run, Hannah Grace and Gabrielle Aplin.
The next two days welcomed the rest of the audience to three stages, their timings planned so that the Main Stage does not run alongside any of the others. This solved the festival-wide problem of clashes, with the intimate setting of the festival meaning that it was easy to switch between the other two stages. The festival was treated to outstanding weather on the most part but when there was an occasional rain storm, a true festival spirit came out and people danced despite the weather.
The appropriately named New Stage added more to Barn on the Farm than one could imagine. Its enclosed arena layout played host to as many people as it could hold, with headline sets from Amber Run and Little Comets kicking off its first year. Racing Glaciers and Fickle Friends filled the arena with their pop anthems on Saturday whilst Sunday showcased the likes of pop-rock four-piece Sunset Sons and singer-songwriter Kimberly Anne.
Despite Barn on the Farm’s acoustic roots, its versatility has to be applauded. On Sunday, the soulful Rag’n’Bone man charmed the main stage just moments before Nothing But Thieves showed off outstanding vocals in the festival’s heaviest set. Both captivated the audience with their respective genres despite being situated miles apart in terms of genre.
The weekend was full of stellar performances, but the most notable of these came in the form of Jack Garratt. His solo presence onstage showed no limits when he moved from hit to hit, producing every sound imaginable from the kit that stood before him. The people of Barn on the Farm witnessed the start of something big on that summer’s afternoon and it was clear from their reaction that everyone was well aware of this.
One of Barn on the Farms strengths is giving smaller artists a platform to hone their craft and go on to huge success. Acts such as Samm Henshaw, George Cosby and Declan McKenna thrilled the audience, showing signs of what is to come. This progression is evident from Barn on the Farm’s latest success story: James Bay. After playing two years ago on their Third Stage, followed by the Wooden Barn Stage the year after, James Bay made his debut festival headline performance closing none other than the Main Stage. The festival’s mantra of rewarding artists by moving them up the bill is one of the things that make this festival so special.
One thing about Barn on the Farm is clear – it is a people’s festival. It began as a place for people to come together over music they enjoy and this message remains present even when it is shared with more and more people each year. Their ability to hand-pick artists whose careers lead to huge success is incredible. There aren’t many festivals of their size that can boast such a success rate: if an artist has played at Barn on the Farm, they’re probably going to get huge.
photo: Dan Harris