After going four nights with little sleep thanks to an inflatabe airbed that, er, wouldn’t inflate, and lack of ear plugs and pillows, plus going a whole three days without a shower, (That’s right, yes, I am a disgusting human being, but intense baby wipe sessions make it not so bad right?*) I have to say, I had an absolutely ace time!
Let’s get the whole ‘British’ thing out of the way and say; Yes, the weather was shockingly bad for the most part. Wales knows how to rain. But it didn’t matter in the slightest because the setting was so beautiful, it would have looked breathtaking even if 100 balding fat men were defacating on it. I fear such an analogy reveals more about my mind than it does the actual setting, but there is nothing better to wake up to than opening your tent to see a mountain.
Friday was, for me at least, a ‘slow’ day music wise, at least in comparison with the lineup of the rest of the weekend. So for the most part I spent wondering around various stages and tents, stalls and bars to find something interesting and appreciate being out in the open air, even if it was very, very wet. But the slow burning day was completely offset by Beirut in the evening. Zach condon was wonderful as was his band, and he produced the first of just two ‘teary’ moments. The ending of Postcards from Italy brought a lump to my throat and a tear to the eye. Sorry for the cliched imagery, but it was exactly that. Festival Highlight #1.
The best start of the day came on saturday. First band on the far out tent stage was Islet. (pronounced eye-let for those like me, who sounded an absolute bellend when they said it pheonetically and hung their head in shame when they realised they’d been calling them the wrong name whilst trying to sound cool). I’d heard lots about them, but nothing from them. They’re making huge noise in music press, particuarly in their local scene of Cardiff where i’ve heard such rave reviews i thought it could only be hype. It was not just ‘hype’, it was pure interesting, compelling, fun, foals-meets-AWESOME! stuff. (Forgive the cheap comparison. There’s a reason why i gave up on being a music journalist). The lead man who i nicknamed ‘Yannis’ for the duration of the festival (He also sported a Yannis Phillipakis style haircut) started the set in the crowd yelping. Literally yelping like a deranged fan, which is exactly what I thought he was until I realised “he looks like he belongs in a band” and pieced the two together. It was my Festival Highlight #2 and a band I strongly recommend you check out. They held my attention the whole set, something quite rare when it comes to a festival environment, especially for an easily distracted person like myself.
(Fig #1: Islet)
Fanfarlo were so much better live than on record and ten times more beautiful and compelling than I imagined they would be. Johnny Flynn was as always beautiful. I could listen to his voice all day and never tire. He’s such a rare talent and really something very special. Wild Beasts headlined the Far Out stage and just as expected, played a beaut of a set. The bassists vocals are so smooth and full of tone, it really was lovely.
(Fig #2: Johnny Flynn)
Flaming lips headlined on saturday night and they were terrible. I’m not a fan but felt obligated to watch just so i could say i’ve seen them. I’ve never watched a performance so heavily reliant on gimmicks and devoid of actual music as opposed to noise made by various instruments in a bland and talentless way. The lead singer came out of a womans vagina for God’s sake. (obviously a projected image rather than an actual womans vagina. I would have given them massive kudos had he actually gone through the effort of being reborn again as a grown man. But alas, he did not, so it was massively wank). I don’t even want to talk about them anymore….
Sunday was a far more relaxed day, partly because of the brighter weather, and partly because of the more heavily focused folk and acoustic acts. Message for Bears and Lone Wolf provided the perfect soundtrack for sitting in the sun with chips, which is exactly what I did. Laura Marling however was my stand out performance of the day. She gave me my second ‘teary’ moment and my Festival Highlight #3. She’s so haunting and despite being 20, and writing a considerable amount of her material when she was just 16/17, she seems to know more about love than my great grandmother. Mumford and sons were also great. It was amazing to see an older gentleman next to me, i’d guess 65+, dancing away, whilst a boy of maybe six or seven clapped along whilst sat on his farther’s shoulders. All age ranges together enjoying great music sums up Green Man festival, and what it stands for, perfectly.
Fig #3: Laura Marling
I went to the comedy tent for the first time all weekend in the evening, and went early in order to guarantee a seat for Josie Long, given her success at the Edinburgh Festival and growing fame over the past year. I feared generic comedians who went down the mildly offensive sexist or racist route for a cheap laugh but was pleasantly surprised to fine witty, intelligent, satirical comedians, whose names i have forgotten but will update so you can share on the humour. Josie Long was adorable. Her performance was engaged, informed, full of colour and wit and, although at times it felt slightly like left wing propaganda, being a left winger myself, I could whole heartedly relate. I’m just glad I wasn’t sat next to a tory. Regardless, she brightened up my evening with her intelligent, charming, whimsically, but nonetheless real, passion.(Fig #4: Josie Long)
Efterklang were a band I was very very exicted to see, but maybe it was from tiredness, or slightly too high expectations, I felt slightly dissapointed by their solidly ‘good’, but nothing more, performance. Joanna Newson on the main stage is full of talent and beauty, but i was pathetically tired by the end of the night so we cut the evening short and waded through the mud back to our tent for the very last night.
So Thank you Green Man. You’re so lovely and kind with your green ethos and family friendly atmospehere. I will definately visit you again. How does next year sound? Yah?!
*Washing yourself with baby wipes in front of your partner in a cramped tent isn’t romantic or sexy. Watching your partner wash is even less so.