Festival Review: Barn On The Farm 2018

Barn On The Farm 2018

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina 

I’ve been quite vocal in the past and will continue to be vocal about how much I love this festival called Barn On The Farm. A festival that’s like going home every year. A festival whose organisers seem to always be on the same wavelength as me in terms of the acts they put on, the way they create an experience and just the vibe they have created over time and always keep. I’d be gutted if they ever changed. We couldn’t make it for as much of the festival this year as we’d have liked as life had other plans but the joy I had in the time there was just bliss. There were several external factors that made Barn On The Farm additionally special in 2018 was record amounts of Sunshine and of course… that football win. I lost count of how many bands sang “that” song (It’s Coming Home… you know…. that one”. Genghar had put in a request with Gareth Southgate on Twitter to ensure they didn’t miss out with their 5.40 stage time and it seems Gareth and team were happy to oblige. They stepped onto the stage bang on time and evidently gleeful. The atmosphere was incredible, you couldn’t have planned this any better even if you’d tried.

The rest of the festival continued in the same way, everyone joyful but because of the setting, there was still a relaxed feel about the place. There was no aggressive celebrations just passionate jubilance and so many football shirts, tees, even of other Nations, I almost wish I’d worn mine! Even Lewis Capaldi didn’t miss a beat “I’m so glad you’re celebrating with a sad Scottish man” he said, deadpan, to his bouncing crowd. A set that showcased his incredible vocal and despite the very evident melancholy nature to his music, his humorous quips between songs very much show he’s not quite as miserable as he might let on; “if you don’t like chubby guys playing sad songs, you’ve come to the wrong place.” Oh Lewis you funny wee thing!

Tom Walker missed the memo about the heatwave still keeping all his lights on (that’s some leccy bill our man is running up, I can tell you!), as he stood beneath lights that I could hardly walk past without feeling like I might catch fire, while he had a full get up including timberland boots and a wooly hat. His crowd (and I!) were treated to a set that included, of course, the BIG single of late plus other tracks that have seen him reach his current success of dizzying heights. It’s wonderful to see how 2 years ago he played BOTF alone with his guitar, opened up the main stage last year and this year is now 2nd to headline. What a journey and a well deserved one at that.

Pale Waves, possibly the only band I don’t recall making any football comments the entire weekend, were a stroke of genius booking to headline the Outdoor stage this year. They’ve come such a long way in a relatively short amount of time, I’ve seen them play to a hand full of people but for about 2 years and now everything they do is witnessed by the masses. Hugely styled and despite the very obvious (to me) connections to 1975, they’re still winning over fans who claim they don’t even like 1975. Fabulous to watch and styled within an inch of their lives this band is TIGHT in every which way possible and I love it, I was unsure for a while as I was keen on them when they were just a regular band with a clutch of great songs, but they’re headed for stratospheric heights and it’s bloody great to witness.

Booking your headliner to play the day England go into the Semi Finals of the World Cup and the day after his debut album is released is somewhat lucky but if any festival deserves this luck it’s our Barn on The Farm! Tom Grennan’s the name, and one you’re not going to want to forget. The thing about our Tom is that…. he is a bit like a brother, to everyone! He’s cheeky, he’s got a way with words, a way with being and a way with clothes for that matter too. He’s just everyone’s, a singer to the people. A singer-songwriter who has beams of positivity that shine out of his damn head. I don’t know that he needed all the lights from the stage when he shines as brightly as he does. It was an absolute pleasure to witness him, in his England shirt, of course, play with a full band that included brass and backing singers and all the bells and whistles you could shake a fist at. His first festival headline show and he took it and he smashes it. I think it was 5 times he was going for with the It’s Coming Home chant that he instigated but he could have done it between every song for all I cared. He thought he had a ropy voice but I thought he sounded brilliant, besides who could blame him if he’d been a little hoarse on such an exciting weekend?

Sunday’s opening act on the main stage was our lovely pals Marsicans, at least I hope we’re still pals as we missed their set as breakfast ran over. We did manage to make it in time to see the delicious Lily Moore. Vocals thick and sweet like treacle and just as morish. This is the third time I’ve seen her and every time her backing band has grown, now to a full support and what a difference it makes. It has been lovely to see her play for a small library of people 2 weeks ago to play to a chunkier crowd with full band on the main stage. An absolute delight – if you’re not onto her yet, please do go and see her as soon as you can. She is utterly captivating to watch.

Festivals aren’t just about the music, yes mainly they are, but they’re also about taking time to relax and enjoy and for some to wrestle your mate as your other mates watch on in bemusement, one sat in a party hat. It’s about finding a sweet spot to rest your bones while you people watch and listen to the music. It’s enjoying a beer, or a cider, an ice cream and all the other things there to tempt you. Guess who ran out of time to have one of her fave ice creams though – yup! I did, however, manage to stuff my face with a new flavour, rhubarb and custard. On a day when the sun beamed down so hard to 32 degrees it was an essential piece of festival kit – if you ask me anyway. Oh and if you are Zak Abel then festivals also allow you to become the nicest person on site when you stand for, what must have been over half an hour, behind a fence letting a queue of fans amas and give them all time for photos, autographs and chit-chat. He was there when I went in to see a band and was still there, still with a queue of people when I left the main stage. Top popped points awarded to that there man.

We had to take cover at one point, away from the sun, and found ourselves delightfully serenaded by London singer-songwriter Jones. An act I only know one song from but thoroughly enjoyed the whilmsical nature of her set. I particularly liked that. I was a bit mean as I wouldn’t share my fan with her because well 1. I couldn’t stand to let go of it and 2. if I’d have thrown it I would probably have knocked her out. I’m sorry Jones! By the end of her set she played Melt, the one I know! It was everything I could have hoped for, especially as we all literally were, melting.  Jones has an effortlesness about her vocal and her performance and it makes her shine. I’m really excited at the prospect of where she can go.

Thinking back to how much I enjoyed the weekend makes me feel a little emotional, I can’t lie. I miss my BOTF family already – I made some new friends, who mainly were attracted to me for my rather large floppy hat, but soon found on we got on pretty well without the hat! It’s easy to bump into people here so if you’re wanting to avoid someone, probably best not to go to the same festival with this one.  Sam Fender made new friends by singing Happy Birthday in the most Geordie way possible and must have made someone’s day. It almost made mine and it’s nowhere near my birthday!

Mystery Jets were an absolute pleasure to see again, it’s been at least 18 months since I saw them and they were probably the only, what I’d call, heritage, band on here but yet they still sounded fresh amidst an entire lineup of hot new acts. Ending their set on my fave track, Two Doors Down. Can’t wait to see them play again, soon I hope.

The other thing that Barn on The Farm allows for is some really special and intimate moments from bands you’d not get that from any more. Take Fickle Friends for example. Sat high upon a stage in a barn with an acoustic set singing It’s Coming Home, in its entirety. Find me one other festival you’d see that this year – nope. None. We couldn’t top that so we took this as our headliners for the Sunday and enjoyed the sounds of Tom Misch as we said our slow goodbyes to the site and headed back to edit photos and remember the gloriousness of it all. Next year is a big year for Barn on The Farm, and for us – we both turn 10! Here’s looking forward to celebrating together in Gloucester!

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