Now on its fifteenth year, Wales’ Green Man festival has made a name for itself in unfalteringly impressive line-ups, lovely people and surrounding scenery so gorgeous you’d be forgiven for finding yourself marvelling at the mountains instead of whoever might be gracing the main stage. It’s the kind of place that, should you fall asleep on the grass between sets, people swaddle you in their blankets (this actually happened).
With relaxed vibes, an ethical ethos and an unfamiliar feeling that for once you are not being ripped off for neither food nor booze (alcoholic drinks waver around the £3 mark and come in a reusable souvenir cup to reduce waste) it’s obvious why people return year after year.
Flaws in the festival experience often lie in their sprawling nature. At Green Man, you can walk between the two furthermost stages in under ten minutes, minimising the stress of those inevitable clashes! Non-musical entertainment is not forfeited as a result of this either. From a cinedrome to a comedy tent, festival goers are spoilt for choice.
Of course, music is still the undisputed main attraction and these are my top six acts from the weekend:
Belle and Sebastian
Closing the festival’s main stage, Belle and Sebastian showed how it’s done. Unbounded energy, crowd-pleasing tracks that span the last twenty or so years and a suitable dose of crowd participation that culminated in at least fifty audience members scrambling over the barriers to dance on the stage (much to the horror of security). In between mincing around the stage and swapping between a plethora of instruments, frontman Stuart Murdoch also made a point of praising the atmosphere and location of the festival.
Happy Meal LTD
A new discovery for me, Happy Meal LTD were as utterly compelling as they were dark and frenzied, fronted by Henry Chisholm clad in an ironic Ronald McDonald get-up, who careered jerkily about the stage, wide-eyed and singing urgently. The stand-out of the set was ‘Joanna’, a macabre track with a circus-like off-beat melody centred around an abduction. The elusiveness of Happy Meal LTD does mean that you can’t listen to them online at the moment but go and see them live!
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
A blistering set that showcased not only the musicianship of the band but also singer Ruban Nielson’s ability to climb up the rigging at the side of the stage. ‘Multi-Love’ was a clear highlight, resplendent with a long instrumental section and drum solo from Amber Baker. Probably the grooviest act of the weekend, even if many of the audience had been tipped off by the Fifa soundtrack.
Oozing cool and dripping with gorgeous vocal harmonies, Warpaint shimmied about the main stage making every girl in the audience wish they could be them. A couple of new songs, including the aptly named ‘New Song’, gelled seamlessly with an otherwise older set. The only blunder was when Emily Kokal let it slip that she thought Green Man was a Scottish festival…
Fat White Family
There was an uncharacteristic lack of full-frontal nudity during the Fat Whites 1:30AM slot yet still they managed to divide the crowd. Whilst some dubbed it ‘the act of the weekend’, others proclaimed frontman Lias an ‘ass-wipe’ as he aggressively swaggered about spitting and hurling things. Regardless of their anarchic capers, the irresistible sleaze of ‘Touch The Leather’ was excellent.
Lyrically and vocally beautiful, Ardyn coolly commanded the Walled Garden stage, managing to lure those still reeling from a heavy first night out to see their early slot. ‘Help Me on My Way’ with its ghostly undertones that give way to flourishing guitars had everyone making a mental note to remember the band’s name.