Live Review: Barn On The Farm | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Live Review: Barn On The Farm

Kylie McCormick gives a misty-eyed review of the 2017 Barn On The Farm Festival, hailing it the best music festival of the year.

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the back of a pickup truck heading up a mountain road in Asheville, North Carolina. The air was fresh and crisp, our skin was tan and warm, and the water streaming from our cooler was clean and fresh. We had just finished a hike to a lovely waterfall and were heading home. As we wound through the mountains Ben Howard streamed through the truck's speakers. It was the perfect summer memory.

We got home and started to chat about Ben, how we where such fans and how we would love to see him live. As a music nerd, I naturally went to look at his touring schedule and one thing in particular caught my eye: a festival called Barn On The Farm. As an American the festival was foreign to me, but its lineup was amazing! From that moment on I watched Barn On The Farm announce each years lineup, every time bringing artists that I loved and new talent I subsequently discovered. 2012 brought Bastille and Bear’s Den, 2013 Matt Corby and Lewis Watson, 2014 Hozier and Dan Croll, 2015 Jack Garratt and James Bay, 2016 Oh Wonder and The Amazons. The lineups built and all I could think of was how I would one day have to make it to the festival. Well, I did, and Barn On The Farm was everything I thought it would be.

Barn on the Farm is a small acoustic, singer songwriter, alternative festival, set on (who'd have guessed) a farm. Over three stages and four nights they host some of the best emerging talent, backboned by established artists who are creating unique and exquisite music. This years headliners James Vincent McMorrow and Tom Odell were supported by artists such as Clean Cut Kid, LANY, Nathan Ball, Dan Owen, The Amazons, Tom Grennan, and many more. While I could write a dissertation on why it's a magical experience, here instead are a few reasons why Barn On The Farm was the best music festival of 2017:

The Farm

Festivals are notorious for having overcrowded stages with little time for sound checks. This means rushed artists and terrible sound, or it means overcrowding of sound space so that you hear multiple sets in one spot. Barn on the Farm has perfected their three-stage set up so that each stage has ample time for artists to set up and get comfortable. Along with this, the stages are set up in a way that there is no musical overlapping, so you only hear the one set you came to. As the stages are close you can pop from one set to the next with ease, so there is no fear of missing a set or having to chose. You aren’t rushed or pressed for time and sets end early enough that you can enjoy the in between time with friends just hanging around the farm. Along with this, the set up is on an actual farm - I mean, that’s pretty rad. You can wander through barns and immerse yourselves in what seems like a very simple world. It is a perfect separation from the business of everyday life, making the actual set up of Barn On The Farm a very enjoyable and easy experience.

Artists wander around with fans, each bathing in the sun on grassy fields listening to lovely music

The Music

Obviously, you come to a festival mainly for the music. Barn On The Farm hosts a diverse lineup of truly talented artists who deserve their stage time. There is nothing worse than getting to a festival and having to sit trough the first two or three terrible acts! We’ve all been there, and we all know how tedious it is. I can however confidently say that there was no bad set at Barn On The Farm. Each artist is incredibly talented and brings to the stage something beautiful and unique. So you can hear your favorite artists - my personal loves being John Vincent McMorrow and Tom Grennan - while also discovering some new favorites like Nathan Ball and Clean Cut Kid. The music standard is unparalleled at any other festival.

The Summer Camp Vibe

Some festivals feel like a rushed chore. You sludge your gear through the mud trying to get a camping spot. You queue for hours waiting for an empty toilet. You cram like sardines around a stage hopping to hear that one song. Its miserable, and yet we all do it. Luckily Barn On The Farm is nothing like this - instead it’s like summer camp. Artists wander around with fans, each bathing in the sun on grassy fields listening to lovely music. People are laughing and drinking, sauntering blissfully from one area to the next. There is ice cream and water fights, hula hooping and mini air flights. It is a blissful time of escapism that directly juxtaposes the laborious challenge that some festivals bring about. Whereas some festivals have young parties throwing up in the corner, or have that group who are just a little too drunk for 10am, Barn On The Farm has an audience and a vibe that is far more relaxed. It is really unexplainable how amazing and lovely everyone is, which allows the festival to feel intimate and friendly throughout the week.

The Ostriches and Pigs and Puppies

Yes, you read that correctly. On the farm are ostriches and pigs and puppies! As the farm is still a working farm, the wildlife provides an exciting addition of nature. The ostriches and pigs are unfortunately penned off, so you can take selfies with them but that’s about as much interaction as you get. Puppies on the other hand run around the festival enthusiastically looking for new friends. This means that while you are in the grass listening to lovely music you can just happen to start playing fetch with a pup, a very enjoyable experience. The animals make the festival feel homely and relaxing, an unexplainable amount of joy that comes from such interactions.

The Volunteers and Staff

I am very appreciative of all those who give up their time to work in the festival, but sometimes the hard shifts can make some staff a little bit mean. Barn On The Farm, though, employs a host of cheery volunteers and staff who exclusively enhance rather than take away from the experience. It may not seem like a big deal, but the fact that those coordinating the festival are giving off good vibes really creates an atmosphere of good times that is very much important for a festival weekend.

The Toilets

There never seem to be enough toilets at festivals. Even if there are enough the toilets by day four are always questionable portals to hell. Barn On The Farm not only had numerous toilet spots, but they were always cleaned and well stocked! Anyone can appreciate the joy of finding toilet roll on the last day of a festival. Way to go Barn On The Farm, that is an impossible task that you have proven to be possible.

Barn On The Farm was everything I thought it would be

We all have the festivals that make our heart sing, pun intended - it's that festival that combines your favorite genres of music with a lovely setting and great people, creating the perfect elixir for a good time. As someone who has yearned for years to partake in a Barn On The Farm weekend, all I can say is that my expectations were met. Barn On The Farm is a festival that offers a top class lineup of music paired with a lovely and relaxed setting, the perfect concoction for a wonderful few days.

Music contributor from Los Angeles. PhD in Music Festivals and Identity. (@kyliemccormick)


7th July 2017 at 9:00 am

Images from

Barn On The Farm