F.A.R.M. Fest: The Gem Of New Jersey

New Jersey’s premier transformational festival F.A.R.M. Fest found a new home this year at Paradise Lake Campgrounds in Hammonton, NJ. After last year’s mountainous landscape and Appalachian terrain at RickeyFarm in Vernon, NJ, I was curious to see how the energy flowed in F.A.R.M. Fest’s new environment. Surrounded by farmland, Paradise Lake Campground in Hammonton, NJ turned out to be the perfect festival grounds, with forested camping and a serene lake. The Main Stage and wood-crafted Spotlight Stage were situated on a beachy area so everyone could enjoy sand between their toes in a familial, intimate festival setting featuring live music, painting, workshops and fire-spinning performances.

Papadosio returned for their second consecutive F.A.R.M. Fest, and it seems the band has found a home with the #Farmily. An integral part of the transformational culture that has been manifesting all over the country, Dosio has more than just a music performance on their agenda. They build festivals from the ground up; they headlined Rootwire for years and helped that festival build its foundation. Now, they’ve moved on to other festivals, many in their early stages, as they continue to generate buzz around the sonic collaboration of instruments and electronics that illustrate the modernity of this culture.  They’ve certainly helped extend F.A.R.M. Fest’s reach and I hope they remain a staple for more years to come. Musically, they blew the crowd away with 2 nights of sensational jamtronica packed with funk, jazz, extra terrestrial electronica and psychedelic rock. New tracks, crowd favorites, and dusted off rarities made for a diverse smattering of Dosio goodness, which kept old fans happy and new listeners intrigued.

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F.A.R.M. Fest’s devotion to booking rising artists has become my favorite aspect of this festival. It was both inspiring and satisfying to witness avid festival goers rage to Space Jesus for the first time with his live band, and metal heads-turned hippies gawk at Consider the Source. Many festivals are aware of how significant their influence can be on emerging talent, but F.A.R.M. Fest’s talent booking speaks directly to my personal tastes. They’ve got their fingers on the pulse of the proliferating livetronica/genre-fusion movement; I had never seen many of these bands before F.A.R.M. Fest and a few blew me out of the water. Here are few musical ac who stood out the most in my mind:

I had heard of the The G Nome Project before, mostly from my Israeli and Jewish friends. The G Nome Project is a livetronica band from Israel; they played 3 sets at F.A.R.M. Fest including a sunrise set and they far exceeded my expectations. Clearly influenced by the burgeoning underground electronic music scene in Israel which consists most of psytrance and hard hitting techno, The G Nome Project puts an interesting spin on the livetronica sound by mimicking the upbeat tempos of their homeland. They are relentless and rarely slow down, which creates a hypnotic vibe that is complemented by the undeniable tightness of the band and its members.

Before heading to Papadosio’s second set on Friday, I luckily happened to stumble by The Untz stage, where my ears were quickly captivated by the funky jamtronica coming from the near empty tent. No one around knew who the band was so I had to ask the lighting tech, who ecstatically told me it was “Normal Instruments.” Normal Instruments is the brainchild of Michael Carter, guitarist and singer from the Boston based band The Indobox. This 4 piece has a focused sound and incredible potential; their electronic rock was spot on, and yes, they do play normal instruments.

norm inst

Viral Sound struck my ears with great interest as wowed the crowd on the beach on Friday afternoon. This band brings a unique and refreshing take on instrumental and electronic rock, utilizing synthesizers and drum pads to their highest potential. Seamlessly integrating funk and jazz segments within jammy and electronic compositions, Viral Sound’s consistent groove demonstrated an impressive degree of professionalism and reactivity to the audience. Keep your eye on this act as they pop up on more and more festival lineups.

21I would be remiss if I failed to mention the indelible Honeycomb. I was aware of this talented beatboxer but had never gotten the chance to see him live, and I was blown away. As F.A.R.M. Fest’s unofficial MC, Honeycomb seemed to pop up on all stages as he gave set-break performances throughout the weekend. His percussive prowess captured so many ears that many failed to realize that he was merely transitional entertainment to fill the gap between the next set. At the Untz Satge, Honeycomb’s bassy vocals seemingly controlled the vibrations of the whole tent, which really set the crowd off, especially after Exmag’s set on Friday night.

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All of F.A.R.M. Fest’s quirks, good and bad, give it character. It’s not the most organized, the schedule might be wrong, or things may be running late. Yes, artist’s names might be misspelled. Yeah, there might be glass all over the ground (maybe left over from the last festival held at this venue?). A lot of glass. Like seriously, where did all that glass come from? Either way, it’s F.A.R.M. Fest, so we don’t mind. It’s not their fault. Small price to pay for a transformational experience just 2 hours out of New York City. I treat it like a vacation.

There is a world of large festivals, packed with corporate sponsors and ever increasing attendance and capacity. And there is a world, the one I prefer, of smaller, transformational festivals that maintain their small sizes and breathe a sense of unity, creativity and tribal peacefulness that you can’t find anywhere else. The experience is laid back, DIY, nonjudgmental and welcoming. They aren’t that easy to find but their presence is growing and has now permeated all regions of the United States. F.A.R.M. Fest is one of these gems, one where you can know what to expect, and one of New Jersey’s best kept secrets.

ff sunset

Photo: Jonathan Melamed

All other photos: Aspire to Inspire Photography

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen’s desire to put the indescribable into words led him to his role as a music editorialist and social media manager for Sensible Reason. He joined the team in early 2014 after graduating from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film. Sam has produced big budget music videos, ran successful marketing campaigns and currently works in the digital marketing department of the nightclub Output. When he's not avidly exploring new music and festivals, you can find him studying intellectual property, internet, and media law at Brooklyn Law School. Join him on Twitter: @SamCohen913

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