Last weekend, Pitch embarked on our very first Farmfest, held annually in Bruton’s handsome Gilcombe Farm site.
Like all good festivals, Farmfest was created by a group of like-minded friends, who wanted to plug a gap left by the commercially-motivated festivals dominating the market a decade ago. Beginning humbly in 2006 with just 400 people, Farmfest now homes 5,000 people for one weekend a year, to revel in the Farmfest party spirit.
The small but perfectly formed festival has historically done a solid job of curating a lineup that champions both internationally renowned acts and South West gems. This year’s offering spanned the breadth of Gilles Peterson, Hot 8 Brass Band and GoGo Penguin, to the relatively undiscovered Pete Josef, Rachael Dadd and Kayla Painter who all hail from nearby talent reservoir, Bristol.
Farmfest champions both internationally renowned acts and South West gems
Having driven into a dark campsite on Thursday night, we emerged booze-depleted and sore-headed from our tents, and meandered the short distance to the main arena to feast our eyes on some festivally sights and some coffee.
It wasn’t long before punters piled in, stages started to kick up a fuss, and the festival was in full swing…
Most of our group spent a good portion of Saturday dancing on the Soul Train, which took the shape of an old steam train carriage, where a good 40 or so glitter-doused people crammed aboard to dance to funk, soul and disco.
Whereas our counterparts soaked up the entertainment at The Palladium stage, which, across the weekend, hosted a selection of stand-up comedy, improvised theatre, poetry, film screenings and chaotic music-themed Never Mind the Bingo (shout out to other Rachael for winning a prize for her Kate Bush impression).
A lot of dancing, beers and silliness later; day melted into night. One of things many people take away from the festival is the easy relationship between the family-friendly daytime VS massive party at night.
the easy relationship between the family-friendly daytime VS massive party at night
By day, hippy kids are wheeled through fields in pimped-out trollies. But come nightfall, the under 18s clear out and you’re free to throw some serious shapes with zero fear of knocking out a littl’un.
There aren’t many festivals that can boast a fully-loaded kids’ tent and entertainment through till 7pm, and great DJs until 4am. I’m sure many of us are familiar with the age-old tale of wandering a festival site after the stages shut at 1am, seeking the warmth of a crowd and a bassline.Friday evening’s headline slot was bestowed upon Mercury prize-winning hip hop luminaries Young Fathers, but we made the controversial decision to head to the Big Blue tent to see DJ Format & Abdominal instead, taking advantage of a rare UK performance together. The move paid off when we got to witness a live delivery of Abdominal’s insane Breath Later, where he utters 48-bars in one breath, not once, but three times in the four minute track.
we made the controversial decision to head to the Big Blue to see DJ Format & Abdominal instead
Funky New Orleans marching band Hot 8 Brass Band (who we recently had the pleasure of talking to – Read the interview here) continued the good vibes, before a couple of unsurprisingly amazing sets from Lone and Pearson Sound B2B with Kowton.
With the rest of the stragglers, the night finished, of course, with Bristol’s Shapes crew, who unrelentingly kept the party going until 4am in their tent, The Kitchen, with a thudding mix of house, techno and a little bit of disco.
Bristol’s Shapes crew unrelentingly kept the party going until 4am
Saturday began with the obligatory tent crawl until we found something that took our fancy – a bit of reggae back at The Kitchen, leaving one of our comrades behind at The Den for some more funky house and soul (which featured heavily on this year’s line up, if you couldn’t tell).Later, we headed over The Palladium for some more comedy, where during a turnaround, compere-turned-spotify-DJ Mark Olver took requests on his mobile phone, turning The Palladium into a temporary 90s rave, before Welsh comic Phil Cooper had us bent over in stitches.
compere-turned-spotify-DJ Mark Olver turned the Palladium into a temporary 90s rave
But before long, the sound of Pete Josef drifting across the field dragged us back over to the Main Stage for little blissed-out bop in the sunshine.
A highlight of the whole weekend was undoubtedly Saturday’s Main Stage headliner GoGo Penguin. Laden with a double bass, drum kit and piano, the Manchester jazz trio carried us blithely through the sunset with their serene acoustic electronica.
Up next, the formidable Gilles Peterson dove headfirst into his Brazilian-inspired samba selections, with a crowd-pleasing mix of Ain’t No Sunshine thrown in for good measure. Excellent though he is, 40 minutes of Gilles Peterson and you’ve pretty much got the gist, so we made our way next door to the Big Blue to throw ourselves around one last time to some disco-y drum and bass with 90s duo Bentley Rhythm Ace.
If you’re hungry for a little bit more of the action, check out our Farmfest video…
Until next year Farmfest, cheers!
Photo credits: Alex Rawson, Gary Park