Barn on the Farm Sunday 8th July, 2018

We have made it, the final day of Barn on the Farm. After numerous insanely impressive sets stretching the past two days and after many sweaty hours we wake up to a stifling hot morning, lulled awake by the sound check nearby. Today, like the other days, promises to be an exciting day searching out new artists and hearing from some of our favourites.

We kick things off with a double punch of female power with bluesy singer songwriter Lily Moore and indie pop Anteros. Lily Moore is an unfathomable powerhouse that seems to mix Amy Winehouse intensity with Adele like depth. Her voice is a boom, a sonic metamorphosis that is truly unique and insanely commanding. Taking the main stage Moore shows no sign of nervousness; rather like a seasoned pro she controls every aspect of her shorter morning set. Anteros, like Moore, is a female led indie pop group with an exceptional sound and perspective.  Influenced from a wide range of genres and generations, their music is playful yet sophisticated all wrapped inside an uptempo package that gets people up and dancing in the morning heat.

Sam Fender takes to the Outdoor stage after Anteros. Fender, like a majority of the Barn on the Farm artists, mixes acoustic elements with a soulful bluesy perspective. Crowded onto the stage Fender and his bandmates rift song after song wooing crowds with their grainy depth of sound. Battling Sam Fender is Will Heard who takes on the main stage at a similar time. Like Fender, Heard curates music that is both acoustic singer songwriter and organic blues. The sole presence on the massive stage, Heard’s set is arguably simple in its make up but sonically it is an extravagance of texture and tone.

A slight pop edge cascades through the evening; as the singer songwriters retreat into the audience bands fill the stages. Zak Abel takes over the main stage, the newest in a line of pop infused heartthrobs Abel would no doubt be crush worthy if we were still teenagers. His gravely voice wraps around light-hearted keys and drums, uplifting the mood with a pop infused set. Afterwards we find Abel hanging outside the stage for hours upon hours, greeting every fan that comes his way.

On the opposite Outdoor stage Alex Vargas sets up, a simple guitar standing in the vastness of the stage. Bathed in a purple and blue light Vargas delivers a performance that truly rivals the best of the day. With a bombastic voice that is gritty yet pure, Vargas holds a talent that is unparalleled. While his stage show may be a bit minimal, the depth found in his music battles any notion of simplicity, songs of life and love cascade in exceptional patterns drawing in an audience who stand in stillness drinking in the offering poured out.  In his set Vargas shows us all that you can be profound even in simplicity.

Rock infused bands Eliza and the Bear and Mystery Jets round out the night. Taking to the Outdoor Stage Eliza and the Bear curate upbeat indie folk songs that are clearly crowd favourites. As everyone danced along an audible glee rose, while everyone was exhausted and sweaty they were well aware of the party streaming from the stage.

This excitement continued as Mystery Jets took to the main stage.

Indie rockers Mystery Jets have amassed quite a following over the years; as people spilled out from the guts of the main stage it was clear that they were a crowd favourite even before playing. Their ambient fuzz mixed with hard-hitting rock vibes created a dynamic sound that drove emotions and spurred emphatic partying.

Gig(s) of the Day: Sea Girls

I have a confession; in my state of weakness I was unable to choose only one stand out set for Sunday. Because of my apparent inability to be fully decisive you are thus receiving two stand out gigs of Sunday, both wholly deserving of the accolade.

Thus the first gig of the day must go to indie rock foursome Sea Girls. When you listen to Sea Girls you are automatically struck by their pure honesty dripped through their songs. It is an altering vulnerability that is at both times comforting and jarring; it’s comforting as it deeply connects to every listener but jarring because such transparency is often not found. It is this sort of juxtaposition that has come to typify Sea Girls, and while the guys revealed in a chat after their set that they do not want to be confined by genre structures, their desire to detail emotions is a sort of cornerstone.

“We create songs about human emotions. It is about revealing human flaws, capturing our lives up to this point. We just want to be real.” To say it is refreshing to hear such depth and honesty in an upbeat rock tinged way is an understatement, it is an unfathomable task that Sea Girls does with perfection. Finding the balance between hype and reality, Sea Girls curates depth without burden, frivolity of sound intermingled with truth. So while the songs deal with things like love, loss, and anxiety they are done so in a way that is danceable and jovial.

This was on full display as the guys took to the Outdoor stage on Sunday. With an intense burst of energy the band overwhelmed the senses, delivering a standout show to those who emerged from the afternoon heat to catch the set. Intermixing fan favourites with a handful of new tunes including some off the new EP ‘Adored’, Sea Girls wowed fans with their high octane set, creating a euphoric atmosphere that was a much needed energy boost.

The transformational set was something everyone needs to experience, and luckily for us Sea Girls is taking their show on the road. Along with heading into the studio to “loosely work on an album” Sea Girls will be heading out on an October tour, stopping in Birmingham 11th October.

With songs that are timeless and energy that is infectious, Sea Girls played one of the best sets at the Farm cementing their place in our Gigs of the Day slot.




Gig(s) of the Day: Marsicans 

Equally exuberant Marsicans top the gig of the day for Sunday. Birmingham Live fans have met Marsicians a handful of times, both when they played an opening slot and most recently with their headlining tour. The group are not only the nicest guys in the game, but their upbeat jovial sound and fan focused energy create a masterpiece of perfection.

When you head out to catch a Marsicans set you know its going to be a rush of energy, like the hungry young lads that they are they play each show like it is their first and last, bounding around on set with the energy and ferocity of an atomic bomb. The guys revealed that they love to play energetic sets, that performing is what comes naturally to them, and it is beyond evident both in their festival gig as well as in their other shows. With rock and pop infused songs their gigs are lively but timeless, a balance that draws in a wide age range and music taste.

At Barn on the Farm Marsicans bounded onto stage with their youthful energy, splicing through the myriad of lights to perform hit after hit including newest single ‘Pop- Ups (Sunny at the Weekend,’ The tune, like the bound, has boundless energy with a touch of frivolity, the perfect summer song. In a chat after their set the guys told us that they song was actually influenced by those annoying internet pop ups, creating gold out of such trivial life moments.

It is this capitalisation, writing songs out of life’s monotony, that continues to push Marsicans. Writing collaboratively for their album, the guys told me that they are splitting time between festival season and studio sessions, a happy announcement for those of us that love the band! Infusing life moments and reality into their well oiled sound structure the guys are no doubt creating the little gems that have come to mark their releases and sets, giving us something to look forward to as the summer dims and the weather cools!

Marsicans may be a young band but they are no joke. Their music is a release of cheerful vibes that lifts you from whatever stupor you may find themselves in. Their live show is a slash of insanity, their true home found on that stage. With all of this and with their continuing success it would be easy for the guys to slip into rocker fame and yet they seem to push against any notion of this, genuinely and enthusiastically engaging with fans making them the nicest band in the business. Their Barn on the Farm set was a slew of energy and sonic perfection, leaving us wanting much much more.


Ones to Watch: Freya Ridings 

We found Freya back in a corner of the artists green room meditating; she told us it is a preset ritual that grounds her, allowing her to soak up each and every moment. Ridings is no stranger to the stage, she told us that she has been performing for ages and her writing career kicked off at age 11. Drawing inspiration from personal experiences her music is now more refined but still holds onto the childish awe and wonder, a mixture of reality and magic.

Finishing up her first full album, Freya is excited for what is to come, “for the longest time it has been just me and my piano, to have the opportunity to have the things in my head come out is unreal. It has been an incredible experience, the album has all these drums and a full string section” so we know it will be a beautiful piece of art! Continuing to create songs from feeling rather than from ideology, the album will no doubt be a beautiful kaleidoscope of sound.

Luckily for those at Barn on the Farm a little taste of what is to come was delivered. Freya is obviously comfortable on stage, telling us that “the studio is alien to me, it’s the live shows that I love. “ Wooing fans with her hypnotizing melodies and authentically real personality, Freya delivered an eloquent and timeless set, a beauty unearthed on the warm Sunday evening. Stopping time, her set was cinematic in its ability to move through the hearts and minds of everyone present, we left changed people who merely wanted to rest in the presence of Freya’s brilliance.

Needless to say we cannot wait to continue to watch and listen what Freya does. Her ability to create moving works that reveal the depths of every emotion connect automatically with what it means to be human, and we cannot wait for whatever comes next!

Review and Photographs: Kylie McCormick

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