For TMB Twitter followers, it is becoming common knowledge that the day before the Green Man Festival my home was burgled. So it was with reluctance that I headed to the Glanusk estate on the very next morning. All the plans I had for on site coverage were gone. I could no longer provide a daily update and the dream of a typed up interview mere hours after it had taken place was no longer possible. Include the fact that the weather forecast was pretty bleak and the weather at time of arrival was upsetting, well, I should have been having a pretty bad time.
It is here where the beauty of the Green Man festival lies however. This was only my second visit to the event and I already felt like I was back among friends. The atmosphere could do nothing but keep me happy (although I did go through a bit of a strop during the Saturday morning downpour) and the music.. Of course the music was exemplary.
Whether it’s witnessing Dan Deacon pull apart a packed Far Out tent down the middle and begin a dance off between both sides or spotting a man sat inside a cramped box beside a tree playing requests from the modestly sized audience (I would later learn that this is ‘Pip’s Jukebox‘), the Green Man Festival really does offer up a unique set of activities.
Many people will travel thousands of miles to get the kind of experience that can be found over in Brecon. People are friendlier than they are in the real world. Children rule the fields by day, playing football or busking at the side of paths using the tricks they have learnt on whatever toy it is they have (Diablo’s were very popular). There was one ginger boy who couldn’t contain his excitement when three of us offered him a pound each to show us some tricks. He dropped his Diablo on the first attempt leading us to jokingly boo him before he then retained his composure and wow’d us with what he could do.
Then there’s the various areas of the festival. Einstein’s Garden, a lovely area surrounded by flowers and plants teaches adults and children alike all about the world, or you can sit on a bike and pedal while you charge your phone. The Babbling Tongues area which by day puts on a number of talks and by night turns into a comedy feast. Adam Buxton on the Saturday night was one of my highlights and had the tent erupting in a laughing fit. The only suggestion I would have for this area is to maybe place a speaker on the outside of the tent. Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies were impossible to hear if, like me, you were stuck on the outside in the crowds of people.
There’s also the Nature Nurture area where you can do any number of things such as take a Yoga class or oversee the festival from a hot tub. The Far Out area offers up a cinema as well as workshops, the Far Out stage and of course the Green Man himself. There’s also a number of areas for children which is why it’s so commonplace to see multiple families roaming the fields of the Glanusk estate. The list goes on.
The food at the festival also deserves a mention. Every stall across the site offers something different and everything I tried was well worth the money. From crumpets covered in nutella and topped off in honeycomb to a rather delicious paella, there’s genuinely something for everybody. I must give a shout out to the burger place (*update* this was The Grazing Shed from Cardiff) at the back of the mountain stage that does some excellent chilli and garlic chips too! But let’s talk music. After all, that is the main reason for me to visit the festival.
As an obvious music fan, the line up at the Green Man Festival is right up there in the list of the best rosters in the UK; matched only by maybe one other (that can be found in Wiltshire). Throw in the support that the team provides for the smaller acts over on the Rising stage and you’ve got yourself a winner. Thanks to that scheme, the small group of 4 that were going to be attending the festival became 20+ with Mowbird, Seazoo and Kidsmoke all playing across the three days. The first of which got to open the Far Out stage on Friday morning.
Friday also played host to a number of other great artists across the site. Natalie Prass won the day and declared Green Man to be “the most beautiful festival”. Following on from the sub-standard Manchester set a couple of months back, it was a joy to see Prass also winning a field full of hearts during her hour on stage. The same couldn’t be said for Villagers who despite being amazing at the RNCM, didn’t quite manage to get the same tone in a huge open field. Conor O’Brien’s band were still good, it just wasn’t the same. Trecco Bais and Kidsmoke who both played on the Rising stage deserve mentions too. It was refreshing to see a decent sized crowd turn up to both and for the bands to reward them with really entertaining sets.
Other acts seen on the Friday included Hookworms. A band I had never listened to, gave a few minutes of my time and decided they weren’t for me. Temples whose album I’ve recently discovered and absolutely loved were sadly a little disappointing. They didn’t have enough material for the time slot that they had been given which led to them dragging out songs for far too long. I still enjoyed them, but they would have been better with a shorter set. Friday headliners Hot Chip had the chance to impress me but didn’t. I’ve always thought they were a completely average band and I’ve never really understood how they got to where they are. I watched them for just over half an hour and left still unsure at how they’ve managed it. The final act of Friday went to Mew who I didn’t know anything about. I quite enjoyed what I did see, but it was completely unexpected. Would go and see a full set of them if the chance arose.
Saturday began with torrential rain and with what was one of my favourite performances of the weekend and definitely my favourite slot from a band that I hadn’t heard before. Yak, a three piece from London were the first band that I was genuinely very impressed by. They had a great stage presence and they were entertaining to watch as well as to listen to. It was the fifth time that I saw Marika Hackman and I enjoyed her set as much as usual. Considering it was the biggest stage she’d ever played, she put out a confident performance. Any cheer from the crowd, such as the when the first chords of ‘Bath Is Black’ were played, did cause her to break out into a embarrassed smile however.
In what seems to be a running theme with the band, I once again missed The Leisure Society. They did sound very good from by my tent though and I’ve made a promise to myself that I will someday see them. During the Jane Weaver set, a set that I was very much enjoying, the rain decided to revisit which was annoying. I had no coat and to save getting soaked, I had to reluctantly leave.
Television doing their classic record ‘Marquee Moon’ went down a treat with the Green Man crowd before the Super Furry Animals took to the stage as the Saturday night headliners. I had planned to be at Patrick Watson during this set, but since the American singer/songwriter had pulled out with illness, I instead joined my friends at the front and centre of the space in front of the Mountain stage. There was something a little ironic about the relentless shower during ‘Hello Sunshine’, but the crowd were having too much of a good time to care. From here, the crowd split into two directions, some retreating to their tent for the night and the others headed toward the Far Out stage for Jamie xx. The stage was at full capacity which was likely even without the rain. Jamie played a simple set with some simple visuals, but it was jolly good fun.
The final day at Green Man began with up and comer Alex Burey. Burey has been featured a few times on the blog and it was good to see him live. Although not every song was a winner, he had a few really great songs. Definitely one to watch. The Staves doing a session before their Mountain Stage set showed just how crazy good their voices are. Matthew E White, another act who had issues when I saw him in Manchester demonstrated what he can do with a proper sound set-up. His hushed vocals were much more clear and his set was far more enjoyable because of it.
Seazoo continued the entertainment with a hugely fun set, superbly summed up when the guitarist was taunted into taking off his water proof trousers and revealing that he was wearing his girlfriends leggings (after his tent having been flooded the day before).
It was the turn of The Staves following that over on the Mountain Stage. It’s always a pleasure watching the three sisters from Watford and seeing them for the third time this year was no different. As like during the session the vocals were amazing. I walked past Matthew E White at one point during their set and heard him exclaim that “Man, I just fucking love a good female vocal”. As expected, Father John Misty was a huge highlight. In a set where he proclaimed that the future of the Green Man festival was bright due to the hippy babies and also discussed the crowd’s perseverance with a blue balloon it was his on stage antics that caught the most attention. ‘The Ideal Husband’ was the best performance of a song that I witnessed all weekend.
Fifteen minutes of Courtney Barnett made me a little tentative about the upcoming tour because I wasn’t overly impressed. This came before a mad dash back to the main stage to see St. Vincent close the festival. Annie was commanding, confident and completely justified her position as a festival headliner. If possible, even after these nine years, my love for her has only grown stronger. If the performances continue to be as strong as this as well, then long may it continue.
Although it is hard to not let bad weather affect your view of an outdoor festival, overall it wasn’t too bad. The 2014 weather was so great that it was just a certainty to be compared this year’s downpours. However, although at the time it was really dampening my spirits, when reflecting, the spirit and general atmosphere of the festival has meant that it doesn’t even come into the equation.
The Green Man Festival sold out in a record time this year and being there again made it obvious to see why. With no room to increase the capacity and with a line-up that continues to improve year after year, you might want to think about booking your ticket sooner rather than later.