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REVIEW: FARR FESTIVAL

Farr shows that it can go the distance

While Glastonbury remains true to its rootsy, friends in a field origins, despite having become arguably the most famous party in the world, there's a palpable sense that many other festivals have lost their identity as corporate interests overpower them at the first sign of success.

It could explain the growing proliferation of small scale, so called boutique festivals. Offering more tailored line-ups on newer sites, they're often cheaper to go to, easier to get around and retain a sense of the collective spirit needed to put together such a venture.

Despite only running for three years, 2013's Farr Festival already seems to have got its hook into East London's party scene, helped in no small part by the fact that online news and ticket source Ransom Note and promoters Society host what is effectively – on the Saturday we get there – the main stage.

Just an hour drive (or half hour train ride) from London, it's a mere ten minutes to get from the car park, via the box office, to the tree lined Ransom Note/Society dancefloor. The manageable number of people on site, meanwhile - which we're given different figures for, from around 2,000 on the night to 4,500 over the full weekend - means that it only ever takes a few minutes to get food, drink or to use the refreshingly well-tended toilets.

Farr Festival
Catching the end of the Thunder DJs, Hannah Holland and Dan Beaumont join UK house pioneer legend Terry Farley for a back-to-back set that ushers in dusk and the onset of packed tent fever. With an empty field next door, there's plenty of room to go relax, but like virtually everyone here we've chosen our spot and are staying here – despite the likes of Ejeca and South London Ordnance playing elsewhere, following a Friday night that included the Numbers crew and Eats Everything.

Chicago vocalist and DJ moved to Dalston, Robert Owens, gives a standout performance dressed in a '90s shell suit top and Indian head dress, belting out classics such as 'Bring Down the Walls' and 'I'll Be Your Friend' over his set. Justin Robertson, following the same sailor curious school of dress as tonight's headliner Andrew Weatherall, then ramps up the atmosphere a notch with his blend of post-punk influenced disco and acid house.

The similarly informed Daniel Avery is next, three screens of visuals around him illuminating a selection that includes Midland's excellent 'Realtime'. Weatherall then rolls out a set built around masterful restraint and tension building, Paranoid London's 'Transmission 5' a moment of raw, jacking release.

With light flooding the vast open sky above us, Andy from Bicep arrives solo for the closing set, the industrial assault of Joy O & Boddika's 'Mercy' part of his last gasp burst of energy.

While the Disco Busses make their return trips to East and West London at 7am, having picked up their passengers of ready ravers the morning before, we grab a quick sleep in the car before heading home. Farr is no distance at all from the capital, so given the current failings of its opposition is the obvious choice for those seeking outdoor, all-night entertainment next July.

Words: Joe Roberts
Pics: Beth Crockatt

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