Festival Review: Barn On The Farm 2017

Barn On The Farm 2017

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina

Last year was the first year we went to Barn On The Farm and the moment I left I knew I would need to go back again for 2017 and my wish came true. As a tiny independent festival with a capacity of only 1500 and set on the beautiful Over Farm in Gloucester it really is truly idyllic. This year we were also treated to somewhat of a rarity from the unpredictable British weather and had wall to wall sunshine!

Aside from the wonderful setting and the weather it’s the line up that Barn On The Farm that really appeals to me, at no point is there anything that I don’t want to see. An opportunity to watch a few bands we’ve followed for a while that I’ve never seen, as well as the chance to catch up with bands we’ve been enjoying live for sometime. All with a splattering of chilling out on the grass or in the bunting clad courtyard. Where ever you go there are people and animals all clearly enjoying everything the festival had to offer.

If you headed to the festival for their Thursday and Friday intimate evenings you were treated to bands such as The Amazons and Nick Mulvey playing intimate sets inside the barn to a very limited capacity, no more than say 200 people. Well well worth a shout if you’re thinking of going next year. In fact so special that even some of the bands that were playing on Sunday could be seen milling around on the Friday night eager to not just play the festival but enjoy it as much as everyone else. That doesn’t seem to happen all that often any more at festivals.

Saturday’s line up saw us hit the festival site earlier than we ever have before – arriving by 11.30 to see the incredible Tom Walker walk onto the main stage for his first ever Main Stage performance. Seems we weren’t the only ones to be getting to a festival that early as Tom also said it was the earliest he’d ever done to and was thrilled by the turn out. Poor Tom was also suffering somewhat ” I feel like I have two sausages stuffed up my nose” he said as he bonded with probably the majority of the festival crowd also suffering from the dreaded hayfever. He then proceeded to perform his track Karma in their honour. I first saw Tom play a year ago and have now seen him play 4 times and each time I have become further impressed, not just with the performance of his tracks but also with his very affable personality. I think it’s safe to say that I will be seeing him more than 4 times and well that he’ll be playing much further up the bill on this stage in the next year or so!

It was Island who were up next on the main stage and after a few false starts they finally got into the swing of things. It was their first time at the festival and I’m fairly sure they left with a hoard of new fans after a set that twinkled as much as the sun did every time it caught upon the sequins and glitter that adorned many a man and woman over the weekend.

I love the programming of Barn On The Farm and how everyone ups and leaves to the next stage as soon as the last band has finished. I’m not sure when exactly we found time to eat and drink but we did, mainly whilst stretched out on the grass in front of a stage.  The organisers also always know exactly the right bands to bring along to keep their crowds happy – the scenes for OUTLAYA were buoyant while it was a perfectly stripped back set from Ten Tonnes, the first time I’ve seen him play without a band, and he looked just a smidgen nervous, though really he had absolutely no need to and the crowd really got behind him, even though everyone was sat down, which I think is always a difficult one for someone stood on stage to deal with. Especially with tunes such as Lucy, which definitely require dancing, if you ask me anyway.

We were due to watch The Magic Gang but needed a breather (and an ice cream) plus I saw them a few weeks ago and it turns out we wouldn’t have seen much anyway as poor Jack had a bit of a mishap on/off stage and managed to land himself in hospital after only a few songs! We’re very much hoping he is resting up! It was brought up later in the day when the wonderful ladies of The Big Moon dedicated their track Formidable to him.

The ladies were on absolute fire at Barn On The Farm, having seen them but a few weeks ago at Bushstock, where they played to a somewhat unresponsive too cool for school crowd, this time they played to a bouncing-sing-along-happy crowd. The thing is their performance was the same but that sparkle in their eyes was the key ingredient I always look for to know a band are really loving it and it was there at BOTF. The band played through much of their album as well as popular live cover of Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger. It was also a first for them, they said, to play to ostriches, which they could see eyeing them up from the stage –  so they eyeballed them back and went full pelt into the next song. These are a band who always give a performance for themselves as much as for those watching – live stock included!

The headliner of Saturday may well have been James Vincent McMorrow, but for us it was Sundara Kamra. Having missed them play last month in favour of checking out new talent, this was what I had been waiting for. A bit like a fix, if you will, of one of my favourite live acts of the past few years. They played the main stage and they played it as if it were the Pyramid stage at Glasto. I felt adrenaline run though my body as I heard the crowd sing back the lyrics to all their singles and album tracks and I also felt something akin to pride and excitement when they played new track Explore – a new song  which has become my firm favourite by them. If you’re sitting around wondering if you should see them – sit no more, find a show as soon as you can because I think that Pyramid stage is calling.

Sunday came around and another early to stage time was called for, this time for some serious tunage from Bad Sounds, a band who have been providing my ears with something to enjoy long before I got my arse in gear to let my eyes join in. I’m thrilled to say that all expectations were met and that they absolutely brought a tight performance to town. Bad Sounds are a band who doesn’t have a singer as a front man – that is to say that the people you look at the most, or call for the most “look at me” isn’t the lead singer. It often makes me feel a little uncomfortable to be staring down the lens more at someone who isn’t singing. But energy and shapes were being thrown else where and it really made the show even more enjoyable to watch. I think the band were as thrilled as I was that people came to see them, lead singer Callum saying “we’re so happy that people came to see us, we thought we’d be playing to no one”. Never – not at Barn On The Farm – where lie-ins are for wimps!

Over on the Outdoor Stage Kier was next to give the festival a bit of a shake and a wake up with his very flamboyant outfit and set. One of us wasn’t expecting him to look like that from his recorded songs and the other wasn’t expecting him to sound like that based on how he performed. Go figure! Kier has a vocal that is as attention grabbing as his loud outfit – it’s deliciously rich and effortlessly moves across notes and key changes and is strong and full of personality. He was followed by our good friends Marsicans who upped the tempo somewhat with their massive sounding set. A band that has some of the best indie pop tunes I’ve heard in an absolute age – they’re engaging to watch- their hair flipping, body-bouncing, guitar-holding-a-high antics and recent single Friends should be in every indie-loving music fan’s collection.

Back to the main stage and I finally got to witness the stunning sounds of Mosa Wild – with only one track, Smoke, out there right now, it was a set full of new-to-me songs and I enjoyed every single one. Singer Jim Rubaduka is as cute as a button, blushing and smiling his way through personal tales that he attributed to the songs and to which he pretty much confessed his love for a French sound engineer who had slipped through his fingers without so much as a facebook add. I love a band who don’t just put their heart into their songs but will happily wear it on their sleeves too. I had been told I’d enjoy this band live (ok by their publicist) and she was sooo right, so much so I text her mid show to tell her that the band were getting a full on clap along. Smashed it!

We didn’t spend much time in the Wooden Barn stage because of clashes and well it was so hot but we did nip in and out and was thrilled to have caught some beautiful sounds from Jade Bird just before we nipped off to catch the end of another festival staple of the last 2 years – Seramic; who were on a reduced personnel this time, sans drums and down to only one backing singer, yet they still made things funky and full.

Clean Cut Kid – now, we know that you know that I’m a fangirl of these Scouce brothers and sister so let’s just say that I bounced my way through this set  – even though I’m technically not allowed to jump due to a mangled knee, one quick set wouldn’t hurt (it did). I particularly loved the moment that we were introduced to guitar tech Mike (or MikeII as I will now call him) because we not only all gave him a round of applause by request of singer Mike (MikeI) but some bright spark started, what turned out to be, a mass sing along of “we love you Mike we do, ohhhh Mike we love you”! There was so much crowd interaction with the band, clapping, singing, shouting, all fully encouraged by bassplayer Saul who is the life and soul. I’m so proud of these guys they put on the best show.

Because the sunshine was still beating down on us we decided some time spent lazing around in front of the Outdoor stage would be a good idea so we went to do said lazing only to find that when the likes of Tom Grennan and Black Honey are playing there is no such thing. So I submerged myself into the throng of people and enjoyed every single minute of it! To my shame it was the first time I had seen Tom Grennan play – despite having been listening to him for so long. I was not surprised that he was able to reel off impassioned and note perfect versions of all the songs I knew, I knew he’d be good but, as seems to be a running theme with bands at this festival, his personality and his engagement with the crowd was what made it a special show.  He made me laugh too when he told us how much he had wanted to play the festival and added “there’s ostriches and everything! I just picked up egg and asked when it was born and got burned cos it hatches and shit….”  – The man’s not taking himself too seriously, despite the depth of lyrical content in his songs. He’s coming to Liverpool in the Autumn and I’m soooo going.

 Black Honey graced the stage at Barn On The Farm last year too and this year returned with as much gusto and a hell of a lot more fans. I’ve lost count of how many times and where I have seen this band now and I’m pretty OK with that. I get lost in watching singer Izzy as she becomes some kind of possessed version of her self when she steps inside her performance. There are moments, if you look for them, when she smiles or laughs, but her act is something else. When she clambers to the front of stage to sit and sing Cadillac she is sultry and scary but if you catch her smile as she all but skips back up to the stage you know she’s not so scary in real life, even if she’ll kill me for saying so 😉


Again, our headline of the Sunday on the main stage wasn’t the intended Tom Odell but London’s Amber Run. I’m proud to say I saw their 5th ever live show and to see them now is an entirely different ball game. Their new album was a game changer too and they bring all their anger, all their passion and all their talents to the stage for a rip-roaring heart-wrenching set. They hardly give you a moment to breathe before leaping into the next song which requires equal measures of singing and clapping. Lyrically this band have always had it, they’ve always been great live too but it’s with For A Moment I Was Lost, that has really woken their inner daemons and let them come out to play. Happier sounding tracks sit just as well aside them and give the band a full and rounded set which the crowd fully got involved with. Watching them first from the front and then from a far as the sun began to set I knew our time at Barn On The Farm wouldn’t be bettered past this point and a sorrow started to set in – I really needed another day.


Rationale played us out as we walked toward the exit for our taxi “home” – where we found out that if you opened the window in my bedroom you could actually hear Tom Odell on the main stage – loud and clear. A free sound show for those living near by who didn’t feel the need to attend. They missed out though – we’ve even encouraged our taxi driver to get himself there next year and we feel confident that he will be! We’ll be on the look out because come what may we absolutely MUST go back in 2018. I’m already trying to put together the line up for them!






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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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