July 24-26, 2014
written by Elise Olmstead
photos by Greg Horowitz of CSM Promo
When I first tell people that I’m going to FARM fest, they picture hay rides, petting zoos, wide open fields and bluegrass music. I feel compelled to correct their reverie and tell them while the festival does take place on a farm, the word is an acronym for Future Artistic Revolutionary Minds, and the music is unconventional, eccentric, and anything but an acoustic pick around a camp fire.
The festival is surprisingly only in its third year, but the team of organizers and crew are so passionate about the project that it has accelerated at an astonishing rate. As soon as we drove up to the picturesque Rickey Farm in Vernon, NJ, nestled in the mountains, we were greeted by a raging crowd of music lovers bouncing along to music everywhere you could see. Through a marketplace of vendors, including food vendors with options for every taste imaginable, you came to “Jam Dome”, a large tent with a stage that hosted both live bands and DJs. The map provided to you at the entrance helped you find your way, but also intrigued and provided some laughs, as the port-o-potties were labeled “Dangleberries,” the entrance labeled “Portal into Awareness,” and the art gallery the “Atherial Imaginarium.” We always appreciate creativity and it certainly made us smile as we made our way around the property.
We couldn’t arrive until Friday, and Twiddle was already going strong on the main stage, “The Peak on Mountain Creek,” when we arrived. Parking hastily, we rushed over to check out the reggae/funk band that has been on fire lately on the jam scene. They played our favorite song, “Syncopated Healing,” and I swayed with Kaylee as a grin spread across my face. The main stage area was crowded with fans, most dancing wildly in front of the stage, but many lounging under the sun shade behind us, and live painters flanking us on all sides.
To the right of the stage, where many painters were situated, a breathtaking sculpture held a small stage for DJs. Beige bricks (which I didn’t touch, so I’m still not sure what they were made of, but they looked like they might be foam) built two curving vase shapes, with fans of beige grass as decorative accents. Near this area, a wooden platform hosted mesmerizing fire dancers at night. When the main stage music ended, the Silent Disco raged all night at the “Funkadelphia” stage, and starting at 11AM in the morning, you could catch workshops on art, agriculture, spiritual awareness, astrology, and more. There was never a dull moment to be had and there were tons of friends to be made
The lineup was mainly electronic, but of a more eclectic nature than your typical DJs. “We wanted to have artists pushing for new limits.” Patrick Ryan, organizer, said about the musicians he considered for the lineup. Some of these artists pushing for new limits included “liquid sunrise” composer Random Rab, a DJ who is also talented on a plethora of instruments but was made famous by his Burning Man sets, dreamscape building downtempo artist Bluetech, and “gypsy dub” violinist/DJ Govinda. Besides the electronic artists, jam and jamtronica bands like festival darlings Papadosio, Northeast rock stars Mun and Fikus, and Baltimore beat monsters ELM also gave us plenty to dance to.
While we missed Desert Dwellers, Moon Hooch, and Cosby Sweater on Thursday night, we made it in time Friday to catch Twiddle, Out of the Beardspace, Phutureprimitive, Brightside, EOTO, and ELM. Phutureprimitive played some songs from my favorite album of his, Searching for Beauty in the Darkest Places, pleasing the audience with his truly dynamic and dance-able sounds that take you from pleasant ambience down to a dirty bass-heavy grind against the dirt. Out of the Beardspace’s space-y synth-tinged rock reminded me of Dopapod and I marked them down as a name to watch. EOTO’s improvisational dance beats always keep us guessing, and with an aerialist performing behind him, along with fire performers and live painters, there was plenty to feast your eyes on. We had to catch our friends at ELM close up the Jam Dome, got our dance on to some jamtronica, and met someone with a psychedelic kaleidescope dubbed the “Space Dick” that blew our minds.
Saturday there was no time to sleep in, as the electronic beats started right away. I cooked some bacon and eggs to Izahead, then chilled under the shade of my EZ-up during “grass-hop” artist Vibe Street. Our camp was situated right next to the stage so I could hear the music clearly any time of the day. We traversed the vendors and talked with our friends at Boogie Bean Coffee, as well as browsing clothes and jewelry before grabbing a cold drink for my hubby, who was busy collaborating with Bryan Bailey on a huge landscape mural. I was so proud to see them sweating it out in the sun, but soon found shade in the Jam Dome during Tweed, who played an awesome jam-tronica cover of the Game of Thrones theme song. Govinda had me dancing at the main stage while I mingled with artists, then I made sure to catch some of live band Mun, who had infected a huge crowd with their catchy guitar riffs and enthusiastic melodies. The moment I had been waiting for though, was when Papadosio would take the stage and soothe my soul with their inventive, winding and weaving jamtronica. Taco and I had recently taken a liking to going “Mike-side,” since becoming obsessed with his mind-blowing drum skills. Their set had a great mix of classic high-hat tapping tunes like Polygon, from their album Magreenery, as well as ambient songs with meaningful lyrics like Monochrome and Direction Song. The set mixed with new and old had a little bit for everyone.
A lot of people reported the long-haired dubstep artist Space Jesus, aka “Keeper of the Space Dick,” as one of their favorite sets of the weekend, and I could feel the palpable energy ripple across the headbanging crowd as partiers just refused to stop raging. We dabbled in a little bit of the psychedelic sounds of Supersillyus before calling it a night for the evening. We were tuckered out from dancing, painting, laughing, and generally jumping for joy the entire weekend.
From the moment I stepped foot on the farm and saw the backdrop of a beautiful mountain, I was impressed by Farm Fest’s location, patrons, and overall vibrations. Even the bears were coming down from the hills to check out the music (or maybe the bacon I was cooking). Many left saying that they were practically glowing, and it was one of the best festivals they’ve ever been to! I enjoyed seeing familiar faces and making friends with new ones, and I can’t wait to see this festival grow even more each year, just like the expansion of our minds and hearts. Thank you FARM Fest for an extraordinary time.