Lounge On The Farm 2012 review

'Another great harvest'

Chris Swindells - 19 July 2012

Take an inane phrase and word association, say Kent and 'the garden of England', then create, apply and extend a metaphor to an event there, say Lounge On The Farm, and you find a festival in full bloom, like a biome of diverse biology and beats, with richly vibrant pockets of life from the roots to the fruits.

Lounge On The Farm has grown from its quite humble seed planted back in 2006 and must feel like a whole different animal looking around at the slick operation in 2012. What was once a local affair with just three stages is now drawing crowds from far and wide, all thanks to the more forward-thinking elements of what can surely claim to be Kent's second biggest festival.

It’s a fine line trying to cater for the first time, part-time and full-time festival-goer, but the Main Stage proves to be a great example of what inclusive programming can bring, as Friday night benefits from clear skies and an emotive Emeli Sande (7/10) headline set that welcomes many families arriving after work.

Where established acts like Chic or The Charlatans go for a hits showdown on Sunday night, the real treats lie in-between as newcomers like Bastille (8/10) delight and enthral new fans with their simple electro-rock formula, with the biggest reaction saved for their sublimely orchestrated covers of City High's 'What Would You Do' and Snap's 'Rhythm Is A Dancer'.

Man Like Me (7/10) are an eccentric rag-tag gang of melody and gun-slinging vocal firepower, a gang who quickly overcome the fixtures and fittings of the Meadow Stage around mid-afternoon on Saturday. The Mike Skinner-signed group from North London keep your attention but their wild and erratic dramatics only serve as a smokescreen to a less than perfect sound.

Later on that same stage, another of Mike Skinner's protégées Ghostpoet (8/10) warms things up with new material that captivates and pulls the crowd in like a warm bear hug before closing with 'Carry Me Home'. The bleakly poetic humanity of his debut 'Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam' has been a slow burner but the Mercury Awards nominee has picked fans from all corners of the country and it's easy to see why on the back of his set here.

Assured yet reserved in his stage show, he learns a lesson in ostentatious displays of power from his successor and scene godfather Roots Manuva (5/10). Dressed in white and allowing his act to be mostly carried by colleagues, the rapper has time to finish the night with a career retrospective, yet even with recent hits like Toddla T's 'Watch Me Dance’, he doesn't keep them tuned in.

Beyond the music, the extra-curricular activities have all the traditional stamps of a bohemian boutique festival, from wood craft to amateur dramatics, the site does well with the space to appeal to all the ages. Giving youngsters a space to dance into the later hours inside the Kopparberg tent or wobble in time to the beat inside the roller disco, whereas the adults are able to relieve themselves of parenting duties beyond 8pm for the 'post-watershed' comedy line-up with everyone from Robin Ince to Ardal O'Hanlon taking centre stage. 

Despite some minor issues, like a site restructure which leads to a few pressure points (or pathways to you and me) suffering in the bad weather, this year has been another great harvest for the farm. If it has desires to play at being Glastonbury it keeps it well hidden, everything is neat, nuanced and thought-through in a way many other festivals this size simply can't manage.

Where some of the other festivals on this weekend struggled in the poor weather conditions, Lounge On The Farm had some southern luck and kept going. With punters walking away more content than ever, this is one event that has bigger and better things ahead of it.


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