Festival Reviews

Festival review: Lounge On The Farm 2011

By | Published on Friday 15 July 2011

Lounge On The Farm

I arrived on-site at the near crack of dawn (well, about 9am) on Saturday morning, anxious to make up for my work-induced absence from the Friday goings on by spending as much time as possible imbibing some LOTF ambiance. Coming upon my leisurely friends in the ‘quiet’ campsite who were feeling too jaded by a whole Friday’s worth of sun and fun to roust themselves from their aromatic sleeping bags, I quickly quelled any rising feelings of bitterness towards them with a soothing 9.15am beer and collected some choice soundbites regarding their experiences of the fest so far.

The more coherent of these included reports of an on-stage comment from Mike Skinner of Friday headliners The Streets, who, having tried to wrest a lit safety flare off an unhinged and pyromaniacal crowd member, apparently described the collective LOTF clientele as “full of parents and wild girls”. Looking at our ‘quiet’ campsite neighbours, a well-to-do family troupe dishing out a full English to their blue-haired children Sapphire and Gabriel, I could see Mike’s estimation had been partly true.

Bill-toppers on the Chess Club-hosted Sheepdip stage, Peggy Sue, were unanimously voted the best and most underappreciated act of the previous day, drawing only a small audience despite attempting Streets covers, sporting Eminem T-shirts and embodying what was, to my friends anyway, a pleasing air of “feminist chic”.

Anyway, we later set out to the aforementioned Sheepdip stage to catch Chad Valley, the one-man knob-twiddling labour of love of Jonquil vocalist Hugo Manuel, who looked the picture of concentration as he flicked switches and caressed keyboards, churning out waves of warming electronica during what was a self-absorbed but absorbing performance. We stayed put to soak up a noisome myriad stomping beats and candied vocals as broadcast by buzz duo Visions Of Trees, whose EP high ‘Sometimes It Kills’ drew scores of glowering trendies from all corners of the festival field.

We then decamped to the all-new Meadows Stage for some earthier sounds from Kent natives Tom Williams & The Boat, who flexed their crowd-pleasing muscles with a commanding and well-crafted set of alt-rock offerings. Music took a momentary backseat as we sampled the various local delights on offer in the Meadows area, enjoying a ‘Hunter’s Breakfast’ of assorted game meats sloshed down with pre-lunch flagons of rustic Kentish ales, finding relief from the alternate downpours and sunny spells in a shaded arbour of twisty wooden totems.

What ensued was lots of inquisitive ambling around pop-up hemp shops, gorging on tender hog roasts and mingling with the largely teenage and family-dominated crowd like a splinter clutch of twentysomething missing links.

We approached the shiny new Main Stage in time to be underwhelmed by a tepid performance from Jamie Woon, awaiting more vivacious vibes courtesy of a flame-haired Katy B, who managed to heat things up even as the Saturday sun was setting, transforming the entire crowd into an unabashed mass of blissed-out ravers. We then took in some tail-end tracks by Nottingham alt types Egyptian Hip Hop, who were refusing to play any songs from their ‘Some Reptiles Grew Wings’ EP (what, not even ‘Rad Pitt’?!) because they were too “embarrassing”, instead opting for onerous stints of proggy fuzz-rock that, although promisingly experimental, didn’t exactly set the Sheepdip tent aquiver on its guy-ropes.

Fleeing from the imminent onset of sub-headliner Example through the drizzle to get under the Farm Folk canvas, we engaged in sozzled singalongs with Melodica, Melody & Me and blushing thespian Johnny Flynn, the latter of whom capped off a string of successive LOTF appearances with a triumphant solo slot. Having stared at the empty stage moonily for some time after he left, we went to the rave tent and danced around our anoraks, I think, and I definitely remember drinking mint tea in the pitch dark whilst sprawled on a bejeweled Moroccan pouf in a teepee surrounded by nouveau bohemian types at the Tea Temple. That almost certainly did happen.

The next day came on bright and hot, heralded by a dawn chorus of our tender-aged neighbours Gabriel and Sapphire clamouring for breakfast frankfurters like particularly posh baby vultures. And so, hounded by the eager cries of “more ketchup please, Mummyyyyyyyy!”, I cradled my sore and sunburned head and longed to be surrounded by the sniffles of teenage ketamine fiends in the so-called ‘noisy’ camping area.

Upright but only partly awake, we staggered off for a bizarre brunch of rare pigeon breast and chickpeas (slimy, yet satisfying) before catching Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The trendies were out in force again to catch the Fat Possum-signings perform the cream of their most excellent eponymous LP, we even spotted one of Egyptian Hip Hop loitering nearby in a crumpled pastel suit.

Later on, we watched wry-eyed indie Geordies Little Comets whizz through a sweaty set of truly great tunes, the oft-overlooked but brilliant ‘Joanna’ receiving a deservedly warm welcome from the heat-struck hordes collected at the Main Stage. Next act Art Brut were on hand to bolster everyone’s lagging enthusiasm levels, dripping with pure punk spirit and perspiration as they delivered an assured selection of their finest cerebral rock miscellanea. Then I had to go home rather abruptly, because everyone was getting on the cider and vermouth (well, my refined friend Sophie was) and I needed time to recover before work the next day. Hmph.

So there I was, sweltering away with a shiny red nose on the slow Sunday service back to London. As I lolled off into an early evening nap, as watched over by a mad-eyed youth holding a dog on a chain (ah, rural Kent), I couldn’t help but acknowledge my ultimate failure in not catching even one of the headline acts. But who wants to see Ellie Goulding rasp through yet another tired rendition of ‘Starry Eyed’ when you can watch faraway US eccentrics like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, stomach brimming with still-bloody Canterbury pigeon breast and ears ringing with Sapphy and Gabe’s high-pitched breakfast orders? Not me, that’s who. AB