Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Green Man Festival - Thursday & Friday

This three part review of The Green Man Festival , which took place across the 20th,21st and 22nd of August, is going to begin with a slight (re: large) tangent but it’s OK because it’s entirely relevant.

The long, Thursday evening journey from Milton Keynes to the Brecon Beacons - avoiding the toll on the Severn Bridge- took my companions (Mr Jonathan Burns & Mr Samuel Duke) and I down the A40. While passing through Gloucestershire, we drove across a junction with signs for a village called Shipton. This was the very same crossroad Mr Duke and I had crossed during our wander away from the 2000 Trees festival site earlier this summer. Incidentally, you can read my review of July’s 2000 Trees Festival right here. So, enough with the filler and blatant self promotion and onward to a three part review of Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons.

After a treacherous night time journey through the Welsh hills, we arrived at the Green Man festival site near the village of Crickenwell at around 10p.m. We trudged through to what seemed to be the very end of the camping area, set up our tents then headed straight to a pub in the main festival site to escape the rain – a good decision as it was absolutely pissing it down and set the tone for the rest of a very, very wet weekend. Some nice pints of 8% proof cider were exactly what we needed...then again, 8% cider is a good idea in any situation. It certainly helped me fall asleep in a tent that had already shown itself to be not exactly waterproof.

This fact was confirmed after I awoke on Friday, the first day of the festival proper. It was pouring with rain, again – it is the Brecon Beacons after all – so the morning was mainly spent inside Mr Burns tent, while trying to figure out who we wanted to see and what we wanted to do. That and eating, and generally complaining about the weather

“Damn you and your country”

Apparently, It was my fault it was raining in my homeland and later on it’d be my fault if anything caught fire. The Welsh rains eventually subsided and we finally dared to go out and explore the festival site, quickly making our way to the main stage and stumbled upon our first band of Green Man, Spencer McGarry Season.
This band and its many, many members appeared to be weird jazz/folk combo and the music was quite interesting. Unfortunately they were let down by some flat sounding vocals, but the Spencer McGarry Season provided a decent enough start to a weekend of music...

Note: we stands for myself and my companions, I don’t have a royal like superiority complex. Not yet anyway...

There was of course more to the Green Man Festival site than the main stage, including Einstein’s Garden which, as expected, was full of that new fangled science. I saw a man talk about snakes, which was quite interesting. After all this new knowledge, it was only right to go and kill brain cells by visiting the Green Man Pub...while sheltering from even more rain. Can you spot the theme yet? The water from the skies let off a bit but unfortunately a walk round the shops in this let up didn’t provide me with the waterproof trousers I’d failed to bring. Rain soaked jeans for the day, smooth...

We then wandered to the far out stage and saw The Hundred in the Hands (who incidentally are being played on 6 Music as I type this.) The electro dance duo from New York were pretty good, so a thumbs up from me there. It was after this the rain actually stopped (for awhile) so it was used for an excuse to have another wander around before going to the Literature Tent to see Stuart Maconie and David Quantick.

If you don’t know who these guys are then you should probably hang your head in shame; Maconie and Quantick are two very experienced music journalists (among other things) and the talk was very interesting. The pair provided a fantastic insight into the world of music journalism and in the process made me do two things. The first was to actually take notes about who I saw at Green Man Festival, the second was to be slightly jealous of how easy it was to get a paid job as a music journalist back in the day. The only downside was when some wanker in a green wig appeared at the back of the crowd and started heckling for fuck knows what reason. On the plus side, the twat did get a verbal pummelling from the tag team of Maconie. The talk was definitely one of the highlights of Green Man.

You may have noticed that this review of Green Man doesn’t contain many reviews of live music so far, and that’s not going to change anytime soon as most of Friday evening was spent inside the Comedy Tent (really just the Literature tent again but with a different name). The undoubted highlight of the evening was the angry, but hilarious Robin Ince who was absolutely bloody-fantastic and the best comedian I’ve seen in ages. I was in stitches the entire time. It seems nothing is funnier than philosophy mixed with anger.

Other notable comedy acts included the surreal Tom Bell and the geeky musical styling’s of Owen Niblock – the only person I’ve ever seen play a mini guitar like thing with a dildo. The well deserved crown for the worst comedy act I saw that evening goes to a Cardinal Burns, who were shit. I didn’t laugh once, every “sketch” relied on the same unfunny jokes being repeated again and again. It was half hour of my life I’ll never get back and was perhaps the worst thing I could have seen after the excellent Robin Ince. A packed tent has never emptied so fast and after seeing this absolute shite it was almost midnight so we went in search of some tunes.

We found these tunes with a DJ playing by the Green Man pub where we drank and we drank so we could forget Cardinal Burns. It certainly did the trick before heading over to Far Out After Dark and catching DJ Yoda who’s set of musical and video mash ups was absolutely brilliant. I was spaced out by watching the videos so who knows what anyone on pills felt like. Hextatic and DJ Cheeba also provided good sets but it’d gotten to 3 in the morning and it was time to call it a night after sitting around a campfire.

But would I sleep well? Would I bollocks. Find out why in the Green Man review part two, coming tomorrow

(Originally written for Gobshout)

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