From July 22nd to the 24th we gathered for Future Of Artistic And Revolutionary Minds Music And Arts Festival to bring the future of music, art and (counter) culture to Hammonton, NJ. Some made the journey to see a favorite musician perform. Some came to show the crowd exactly what they can do with a bit of paint, a lot of inspiration and a blank canvas. Some to spin, eat or breathe flames. A few attendees I spoke with showed up totally alone and unaware of any of the musicians on the lineup. They just came to F.A.R.M to use the festival for what it truly is. A meeting ground for open, like-minded people.
I’ve never witnessed a crowd watch out for one another like we did at F.A.R.M. If you needed a drink, water would find you. If you were hungry, you were fed. Attendees even took in others who were out of a place to camp. One particular person made a running joke out of calling their tent “F.A.R.M Fest Shelter” because of how many he’d given a place to sleep.
Gifts and trades were plenty. There was even a box filled with items of clothing marked “take what you need, leave what you can” outside the showers. F.A.R.M’s community was special. You could not walk from one end of the fest to the other without admiring beautiful smiling faces, reaching out to receive a few high-fives or of course a warm “happy farm!” Ted Savaki, musician and the festival’s media director described the sense of community at F.A.R.M, “I had three seperate encounters where someone was lost.. or looking for their keys and strangers would ”hop to” and help them look or get them where they need to be. You’re only alone until you get inside the grounds. Then you’re FARMily”. F.A.R.M fest really did feel like a camping trip planned by friends.
Paradise Lake offered an extremely intimate setting for an extremely intimate festival. Bumping into friends you made at the main stage the night before was inevitable and an unique feature compared to other fests.
The pine barrens shaded us while the lake provided a place to cool down and a picturesque backdrop. People swam, floated on pool noodles and sat on the dock while live music filled the air. The lack of separation between music and camping meant you could set up your tent right next to the stages… if sleeping at festivals isn’t your thing. One must be warned that music at F.A.R.M does not stop. Not even when the sun has fully risen.
In an attempt to conserve natural resources, festival line up booklets were not passed out. This caused a bit of confusion about who was playing on what stage and when. But you could always turn to a friendly face and ask. An aspect of F.A.R.M that deserves more attention its next go around is making attendees aware of the many informational workshops taking place throughout the weekend and where they’re located in the venue.
The highlight of F.A.R.M had to be the live painters and flow artists. Chris Brink, F.A.R.M’s art director did an incredible job organizing this year’s attractions. The art gallery, fire troupe and pop up ‘art village’ stole the show. At each of the stages, any time of day, there was bound to be one or two artists bringing their pieces to life before our eyes.
They took occasional breaks from their paintings to talk with attendees or pass out stickers and their cards. The fire troupe had their own designated area roped off to the right of the main stage. We huddled closely around them, watching in amazement as fire danced in front of our eyes. The energy at F.A.R.M was alive and pulsing, welcoming the masses to get involved and inspired.
I was most taken with the work of Nicholas Heilig, Ilia Baranikov, and Myztico Campo. Heilig’s prints were composed of sharp wit and clean, beautiful line work. I watched him masterfully paint with bleeding, hypnotic purple watercolors in front of the main stage while Modern Measure played their set.
Even the stages were unique pieces of art. Artists Ilia Baranikov and EJ Hooch fashioned a geometric and entirely wooden main stage that looked like an ornate frame, encapsulating the musician’s artistry.
There was even a collaboration piece at the festival’s entrance. Passersbys were encouraged to grab a brush and make their mark at F.A.R.M with spur of the moment live painting. We sat down and told stories, discussed art and listened peacefully as an attendee strummed his guitar.
Upon walking up to Myztico Campo’s set up, you were offered a friendly smile, good conversation and graciously handed a pair of 3D glasses that brought his monsters and mythic creatures to life. If you walked by when the sun went down, you witnessed his beautiful pantings illuminated under black lights. It made walking through the art gallery at night a truly out of this world experience.
If you love filthy dubstep you love F.A.R.M fest. Seriously. This line up was stacked with the best in experimental bass music. Those who crave live instruments to break up electronic music were provided a breath of fresh air with from bands like Greener Grounds, Tweed and Wobblesauce.
The Funkadelphia stage would have made any producer from Philly proud. It’s where most of the crowd preferred to be during the weekend and where you went if you wanted to get down to “shwacky music from outer space”, as The Widdler put it in his set.
Our favorite acts on the Funkadelphia stage were The Widdler and Vibe Street. Certain songs in The Widdler’s set would have you turn to your friend, grab their shoulders and shake them as you questioned, “what are these noises?!” I mean that in the best way possible.
Vibe Street’s combination of bluegrass, hip-hop and folk set him apart from other electronic producers who also played the Funkadelphia stage. As soon as “Something From Outer Space” dropped toward the beginning of his set, I knew any Vibe Street fan would be able to walk away satisfied. We sampled a lot of the new music he’s been teasing fans with on Facebook and a cover of ‘Wagon Wheel’ had the entire crowd singing along.
The main stage was situated next to the lake. Listening to Emancipator‘s cover of ‘Kids’ by MGMT while sitting on a blanket under the nearly full moon was downright enchanting. Their set was serene, chilled out and emotional. Very different from the heavy bass we had heard prior.
The Floozies‘s set kept everyone moving to their funky, silly style. They seemed to be having just as much fun up on stage as we did in the crowd. For their first time playing a show in New Jersey they performed two favorites, ‘Kinky’ and ‘Love, Sex and Fancy Things’.
Sexy Black Female‘s remix of Ruth B‘s ‘Lost Boys’ slowed things down and brought everyone on the beach a little closer. The crowd really got into it when he incorporated live vocals, synthesized with his vocoder in his track ‘Made of Ice’.
Rain cooled down the grounds and pushed performances back a few hours on night two. So naturally, Yeti played a set that lasted from about 4:00AM until about 7:00AM. If I didn’t know any better I’d guess he’s still out there in the pine barrens, playing for the few stragglers who refuse to stop dancing.
The Integration stage was the spot for talented up and coming producers. Our favorite was Nurko. He gave the crowd an original, emotional spin on trap music.
Leaving F.A.R.M’s festival grounds was an internal challenge. Many of us were not yet ready to let go of the love we shared or say our goodbyes to new friends we made.
In closing I am going to ask that we don’t let go.
Let’s not forget kindness between strangers, the inspiring art we were able to take in or that it’s our duty as FARMily to extend this sense of community into everyday life. Savaki also spoke about keeping the sense of community alive outside the festival, “We have implanted ‘action days’ for local communities here in Philadelphia where we tackle a community garden and whip it into shape before an event, whereas the event becomes a reward for a job well done. It helps synergistically spread awareness of our actions, community, and the event. We’ve also been toying with the idea of a FARM Movie and Art Festival because… why stop at music, right? But that has no expected launch date.”
This year’s F.A.R.M fest was a team effort and a definite success. Much is to come for this relatively young festival. Be sure to keep an eye out for updates on all things F.A.R.M through their Facebook page. We know we’ll be returning next year to celebrate a transformative weekend of art, good people and music.
Photos captured by Kimberly Fox.