Festival Review: Barn On The Farm 2019

Barn On The Farm 2019

5th-7th July 2019, Gloucester

Words & Photos: Elena Katrina 

Every year without fail, for the past four years anyway, I have had a weekend in my diary that no one else is allowed to do anything important on – that weekend is Barn On The Farm weekend. It really has got to the point now where I’m fully just a fan girl. Their line up is always just the ticket with a whole host of bands who we have written about, fallen in love with and always manage to find someone who I’ve not seen before too. Plus as someone who wants to see as many bands as possible the staggering between stages is just a dream. This year though was a very special year with it being the festival’s tenth birthday and they went all out for it too. Sadly I was unable to attend on the Thursday but Friday’s special secret guest on the outdoor stage was something else. I wasn’t really feeling it would be anything special but how wrong could I be. When the drum kit rolled out onto the stage even from 50 paces I knew who it was – had to go in for closer inspection. Yup. The Vaccines! WHATTT!

Before them, we’d made a point to be on-site in time to catch popped faves Bloxx deliver yet another storming set. This is a band I’ve been watching for over a year and following with avid interest for even longer. We were also treated to a cracking set from festival faves Outlya who certainly had a crowd who were vibing hard and to see the band sucking up the energy and throwing it back out ten-fold was so much fun. I love to see bands take on their crowd’s energy and Outlya certainly did this. Au/Ra isn’t an act I was over-familiar with before this, I’ll be honest, yet her set delighted. She moved around in a manner that made you feel she could pounce at any moment. I loved watching her. 

The Vaccines – I mean what can I say? We at Popped have managed to rack up seeing them a number of times over the last few months and they deliver a show that is highly entertaining, perfectly polished but still packs a punch. This was an absolute win for Barn on The Farm – fancy bringing in The Vaccines as your secret headliner. I felt privileged to spent the first 3 songs up close and personal shoving my lens in their faces (as you do), but then after I went straight to the back to watch not just the band but the crowd’s reaction. It was special. It felt like the closing night, not the opening and that’s not something you often see at a festival. I knew there and then – this was going to be the best BOTF for their birthday – and it was. 

Saturday saw the weather decide to have a little cry, was it because Sam Fender wasn’t going to be headlining after all? Maybe but we had so many treats to focus on instead, without being mean, I didn’t really miss him and his replacement was simply sublime, but I’ll get to that later. 

VISTAS were the band we ran to first thing on Saturday – upbeat indie-pop from Scotland these have been on more of my playlists than I care to remember but this was the first time I saw them. They did the trick in giving me a taster for what more to expect from them – their on-stage presence didn’t really do much for me though, maybe it was too early for them. Marsicans, on the other hand, weren’t just awake but playing as if they were headlining – something I’m in no doubt they’ll excel at when they come to headline the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds next month. They bring with them a special little something and they sprinkle it all over their crowds, leaving us feeling like we’re covered in glitter and giving us even more spring in our step.

Sometimes a band evades you forever and you just never manage to see them, even if they’ve been around for ages. You’ll have guessed that I like to see bands early on but even so Easy Life have evaded me even when we’ve been soooo close. Not this time, no. I was not prepared to miss them and I am so thankful that I didn’t. Not only did they make the boss move to keep back their beast of a single, Nightmares, until the end of the set (and everyone who knew it sang and bounced along). There was a very sweet moment though when, early on in the set, singer Murray spotted a kid in the front row wearing an EasyLife tee and singing along. By the time the set was through, he’d popped down to the pit and handed over the mic for a sing-along. What a legend. If it didn’t make young Will’s day it certainly made mine!

A band I have seen a few times and that’s always a highlight of any festival is Sea Girls with their ever-growing army of fans and collection of punchy tunes  – they really are one of the best and Barn on The Farm main stage feels like a natural home for them and I sang my little heart out as they delivered bop after bop after… bop! 

Indoor Pets were out on the Outdoor Stage which I found kind of amusing seeing as that well… they’re indoor pets. Given their BOTF freedom the pets sure did run rampage across that stage. I felt almost out of breath just watching them to be honest or knowing who to watch as they twisted and contorted around the stage. I wanted to clamber up and join in when they pulled out my favourite track…Teriyaki. Alas I had to remain feet firmly on the ground. Maybe next time! 

The actual Barn stage on the barn is always somewhere I feel like I miss out on, it’s always so busy and though I knew it would be rammed I still chanced it to see if I could get a look in for Flyte. No such chance, but I stood outside and sung along letting my memory of other shows do the seeing for me. A band I didn’t need any imagination or memory for was Anteros – though admittedly having seen them play so many times now this year I can probably make up a set in my mind if I wanted to be transported their way. I would say that Anteros have become one of my favourite bands to shoot because Laura has such an energy and an attitude on stage that capturing it all is just impossible. Add to that the repertoire of brilliant songs it’s a recipe for a perfect festival band. I also have to give a shout to the positive message of women supporting women that this band promotes. ALL OVER THAT thank you! 

One of the many great things about Barn on The Farm is the friendly and relaxed atmosphere and that it’s really become somewhat of a going home thing form me each year. I see the same faces and the same vendors and although it’s entirely nowhere near where I’m from or where I live, it just feels like… well, home. I love to take some time out and just chill and people watch, watch them laugh, watch them sing, watch them dance. Trust me there are some moves being had! It’s also great because when you just take time out to soak it all up you can always hear whoever is on the stage. Nina Nesbit was one such act who I enjoyed from afar. She created a perfect chilled vibe for my snack time, where you could find me, perched on the edge of a tractor tyre, beaming from ear to ear. 

Zak Abel was last year’s friendliest festival artist – I’m sure the man spent hours talking to fans and signing things after this set on the farm. This year it paid off for him, those fans came back, in their droves to sing not with him but to him. I felt like I was watching a real love affair here and didn’t really know at some points who to watch; him or the crowd. They sung the lines, they sung the harmonies, the backing vocals but they did it was passion. More so than I’d seen anyone do all weekend. 

Back to that headliner though, so our bae Sam Fender couldn’t make it so the festival organisers pulled out all the stops and we had a very very special guest who flew in from Barcelona no less to entertain us. Welcome to the stage, Mr Dermot Kennedy. For me it seemed a fitting replacement as I saw the two share a stage the very first time I saw them both play, in fact, it became a bit of a running joke for me for a while as they continued in this manner for most of the first part of last year too. There was something in the air when he came on stage, a palpable excitement. You’d think this was always the case with festival headliners, but I guarantee, as someone who has been to 10 festivals already this year, it’s really not always the case. Dermot knew too well too that he was a new guest to the party and he kind of apologised to the crowd. I found this entirely unnecessary but he also said some lovely supportive things about Sam and that made me love him even more. I hope that every single person who wasn’t a fan before that night left as one. His strong vocal and beautifully penned lyrics pull on your heartstrings and from the various vantage points I watched his set from, there was no loss of emotion to be felt. A perfect gift for a special birthday celebration. 

We started Sunday with streaming sunshine, piles of glitter and Cassia in a barn. What more could you ask for? This band is sunshine in an mp3, honestly.  Craning my neck to oggle their performance atop the very high barn stage was an absolute joy – not something you’ll hear me say often, I can tell you. Playing through tracks from their recently released album, Replica, the barn audience was packed in tight and were given a new lease of life for the last day on the farm. Even evident hangovers seemed to disappear out the door. 

A little jaunt from the barn to the main stage I got to have a sing-along to the end of  Only The Poets (who are easily one of my favourite new discoveries of the past 6 months or so) it was Lily Moore though who we were on the run for. Lily Moore has been an artist very much on my radar for some time if she is ever playing and I am around… I’m there! She has the most incredible tone, she writes songs that resonate with so many and isn’t afraid to be unapologetically herself. She is also so expressive when she sings it’s hard to not feel everything with her. I said it then and I’ll say it again now – she’s one to watch and I have a feeling she’ll be headlining this someday. 

I saw When Young for the first time a few months ago, having listened to them quite a bit I didn’t really know what to expect but this time I did and they delivered more than I expected actually. I wasn’t at all sure on them when I watched them in Liverpool but this time around they felt more suited to their environment, more comfortable with it perhaps. With fans calling out from the crowd they reacted and moved around the stage, claiming it as their own. Incidentally, they also get the nicest band at Barn on The Farm for 2019 – sending us a little message in response to our insta story, thanking us for coming to see them. Little cuties! 

I’m borderline a mega fan of Ten Tonnes, I’ve been running around saying he’s my favourite brother of the two – you know who I mean and more on him later. Back to Ethan though – pulling out all the stops on the main stage he had the crowd eating out the palm of his hand and it’s so easy to see why. He’s full of beans and has an arsenal of upbeat indie smashers to deliver – and deliver them he did. G.I.V.E, Lucy, Born To Lose … they were all there and all sung along to like the anthems they are. Are we sure Ten Tonnes is a middle of the day kinda act though? Soon he’ll be much higher – trust me! 

Another band with a whole host of roaring tunes under their belt who were shaking things up on the Outdoor Stage was all-round great peeps Fatherson  – with the largest amount of energy and the biggest of smiles they romped through a short but sweet set that had me howling the lyrics even as I trundled off during the last song so I can go and get my spot for an artist who musically was completely at odds with my current want to throw my head around the place.

Grace Carter was going to cry, or I was, or we both were (and probably half the audience too).  I’ve had the pleasure of watching Miss Carter perform before and honestly, her vocal is just incredible. She struts the stage hitting notes that no human should have any business hitting and the crowd loved every moment. Barn on The Farm was seriously punching with the bands they had on this special birthday and you’re not going to believe who is to come next…. 

OK so you probably do already know, as the likelihood is you’re reading this because you went or you follow what happened anyway because you wanted to go. Secret special guest number 3….. Reggae Zero. Who? yeah so the secret wasn’t quite so secret as almost every other person was wink wink nod nod around the place for the weekend. The stage was set and if you were at the front and had site of the mic stand would have known who because, despite the rumours and the drum kit being covered up, two little plectrums held the clue. G.E. yup…..  DRUM ROLL PLEASE… Reggae Zero was in fact…. George Ezra. AKA the nicest man in pop?  Maybe  – never met him but that brother of his is an absolute delight so let’s hope it runs in the family as much as the musical talent does, eh! The man all but bounced onto the stage, grinning ear to ear and waving his arms to the crowd to encourage the shouts that were already being thrown his way. I don’t even know what his first three songs were  – I was too busy trying to get the “perfect” shot without standing in the one place not allowed to stand (incidentally the one place no photog ever wants to stand – at the bottom of the mic stand haha). All I know was that the crowd was hyped and squished in tight to get as close as they could to the big G man. 

Think that’s it? Oh no don’t be silly – there were still two more acts to finish up this year’s festivities. But for us just the one – because for us – couldn’t beat the legend that is Lewis Capaldi. He’s played the festival several times so was a perfect addition and also because you get a kind of 241 deal with Mr Capaldi – being that as well as a soppy git who sings songs to break hearts he’s also fucking hilarious. Everyone wants a piece of him. The man was wandering around the festival site all day letting people talk to him and the obligatory selfies. Bursting through a whole heap of number 1 or soon to be number 1 hits the crowd bathed him in love – and threw out all kinds of shouts to him… shouts and err … underwear! ” I see you threw your underwear at me but you missed. And there they are just on the floor. Don’t worry though… I’ll be sure to try them on later” …. I mean… c’mon, was I not supposed to be rolling around on the grass at this? Because I was. Then we had a sad song, only I’m still laughing. Oh how I smiled as we walked the dusty track back to the car, stopping along the way to celebrate with the farmer and team who have spent their time putting together our favourite festival for the last 10 years. A lovely moment over on the main stage.

Barn On The Farm…. Another year down and already looking forward to the next. Please say we’re part of the family – please! 




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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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