01 July 2023 (gig)
12 July 2023
Nestled in a corner of the Gloucestershire countryside with a distinctly wholesome and community-led spirit, Barn on The Farm has developed a reputation over its 12-year existence for booking the next big thing before they truly explode. It managed to continue this in 2023 with an intoxicating mix of headline debuts, secret sets, spontaneous performances, as well career-defining shows.
One of the early highlights of Friday came in the form of Red Rum Club on the Outdoor Stage. Now on their third record, the Liverpool sextet have built up a strong following over the past few years and drew a huge, exhilarated crowd with their brand of trumpet-infused indie pop.
This set up the punters up seamlessly for Gang of Youths, with the Aussies taking to the stage later on for what was their first ever UK headline slot. Replacing Lizzie Mcalpine a few weeks before the festival was never ideal preparation, but the five-piece were able to instantly win over the crowd with their thrilling form of heartland rock that fits somewhere in-between the anthemic New Jersey sound and the melancholic soundscapes of The National.
The ambitious musical arrangements are perfect for a large headline slot, with frontman Dave Le’aupepe’s dry humour and evocative lyricisms somehow managing to make the setting feel equally intimate and grandiose.
The ‘Barn’ audience were then treated to another UK-first headline slot the following night in the form of superstar collaborator Jack Antonoff’s pop-rock outfit Bleachers. Entering the stage with a nervous disposition and a David Byrne-esque suit, any concerns from the frontman had quickly evaporated by the time opener ‘Dream of Mickey Mantle’ had reached its cathartic finale.
The energetic singer proceeded to throw off his glasses and blazer and went headfirst into a set that equally borrowed from all three of his LPs. Backed up by an impressive array of musicians he has enlisted including dual drummers and saxophonists, the Bleachers live show perfectly encapsulates the anthemic uplifting pop-rock found on record, with Antonoff’s magnetic energy, genuine enthusiasm and thrilling crowd interaction only adding to the Bleachers experience.
Earlier in the evening Big Moon played an intoxicating set of ultra-infectious indie rock which demonstrated the group’s evolution as songwriters. Now veterans of the festival circuit, the foursome are perfectly at ease on stage and delivered a wistful early-evening set. Highlights included the motoric indie bangers ‘Wide Eyes’ and ‘2 Lines’ from the most recent record, and a gorgeous half a cappella version of older favourite ‘Formidable’.
Sunday then drew one of the biggest surprises of the weekend with a one-time-only performance from this year’s ‘Farm Band’. Each year the festival encourages artist collaboration and this time Flyte, Sigrid (who also performed a surprised set) and Billie Marten combined for a unique performance in which they had ten minutes to rehearse and covered ‘Old Man’ by Neil Young, as well as original songs from each artist. Soon to be superstar Holly Humberstone then closed the festival with her stunningly raw vocals and emotionally-drenched lyrics to round off a captivating weekend.