Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Green Man Festival - Saturday


Saturday morning at Green Man started far too early for my liking, after being woken up my a bawling brat of a child in a nearby tent. The little bastard did this very early every morning until he got the attention he craved.


This seems to be an appropriate time to rant about the number of kids at Green Man Festival. There were loads of children, more of them than I’ve seen at every festival before and it was unnerving and frustrating in equal measure. Unnerving because with so many small children running around the site during the day it was incredibly difficult to relax – there were far too many times where walking into the path of a running child was far too close for comfort. No doubt if one of the little buggers had ran into me it would have been my fault, and not the parents that were letting their kids run wild! In less of a Daily Mail style rant, the number of kids at the festival was annoying because they’re so loud! They were too loud early in the morning, too loud when bands were playing and just generally shouted all the time. Oh, and the worse thing? Lots of kids around meant swearing had to be kept to a minimum.


And now enough ranting and back to our regular programme.


The morning was spent mainly inside our largest tent while we waited for my companion Mr Duke to return from his trek to Crickhowell. The local village was actually very helpfully sign posted from the exit of the Green Man site – there was to be no aimless wandering (a la 2000 Trees) at this festival. Our colleague triumphantly returned from his quest with gifts in the form of food, some local alcoholic beverages and a pair of wellies for me. These were the exact same brand of Wellington boot as were being sold at the festival, but almost half the price. Take that festival merchants, you capitalist bastards! We had lunch, drank our local alcoholic beverages and set out to see some bands.


After spending far too much time trying to figure out which stage to go to, we finally settled on the Far Out Stage. Settled is used in its most precise term here with camping chairs being set up in order to watch the bands. (I know, I know it was so rock and roll)


Egyptian Hip Hop
rather disappointingly didn’t consist of Hip Hop at all, and I don’t think they were even from Egypt. That’s all I remember about them so they can’t have been awful but not exactly top shelf either then. Next up were Voice of the Seven Thunders who unfortunately weren’t particularly entertaining either and their generic emo riffs quickly faded to the back of my mind while I became more interested in keeping tabs on the Cardiff City score (a 4-0 win over Peterborough by the way).


After a bit of a wait, next came the act I most wanted to see at Green Man in the form of Billy Bragg. The Bard of Barking was absolutely brilliant, and I’ve never seen one man and a guitar hold a crowd so well. Almost every song came with a story or a message, with one of many highlights being when Bragg spoke about the V Festival that was also happening across the very same weekend. Apparently, it was wet there and Paul Weller was getting “pissed on;"
you may be thinking, well weren’t you wet too Mr Palmer? But you’d be wrong, the Saturday night in the Brecon Beacons was actually dry.


Bragg sang many of his biggest songs including the excellent 'Sexuality' and a stirring finale in the form of a singalong to 'A New England'. There are no bad things to say about this set by Billy- for me it was the highlight of the entire weekend. I’ll admit this might have something to do with Bragg’s political leanings – similar to those of myself - being evident throughout his set but the man also puts on one hell of a show. Awesome, awesome stuff.


After Billy Bragg, we made our way across to the Comedy Tent which was more or less dead. Why? Well, a certain The Flaming Lips were playing the main stage.


If there was ever a demonstration of how two different musical acts could be so different, yet still mesmerise a crowd then Billy Bragg and The Flaming Lips'
surely demonstrate this. While Bragg captivated the audience with his powerful lyrics alone, The Flaming Lips made sure everyone was watching the stage through lights, confetti, videos, giant balloons and a large variety of other weird and wonderful things. It was all strangely relaxing and they certainly put on a powerful performance with tracks from across their career Thus we left during an encore of 'Do You Realize' to track down some beats.


As you may recall if you read my review, Metronomy played a good set at 2000 Trees, but at Green Man it was even better. The band is far more suited to a nighttime set with flashing lights and excellent videos accompanying their electro-pop in the darkness. Perhaps it was because this crowd had consumed far more intoxicating substances than those at 2000 Trees, or perhaps it was just because they were dancing more, but the atmosphere during this gig inside the Far Out tent was fantastic. I was buzzing afterwards and was up for a bit of a dance and therefore headed to one of the oddest club nights you’ll ever read about.


Well, I say club the DJ set took place outside the Green Man Pub in what had essentially become a muddy bog – and provided possibly the closest anyone could get to dancing in a trench during World War I.


The set consisted entirely of cover songs, even if some areas of my own musical ignorance were shamefully revealed. For example, I had no idea that I 'Fought the Law' was a cover of Sonny Curtis and the Crickets, or that 'Step On' by The Happy Mondays wasn’t an original (though the combination of cagoules and The Happy Mondays still made it feel like Manchester in 1992 all over again...just because would have been six years old and living in Cardiff doesn’t mean I wasn’t there, man).


The drinks kept flowing and the songs kept coming and there I was using my wellies to their full advantage by skanking in the mud (partially to win a bet) ‘til way past 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. If there’s a better way to end an excellent day at a festival then I don’t want to hear about it.

(Originally written for Gobshout)

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