Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Memories of Green Men Past


Tomorrow, I'm heading to Brecon for my first Green Man Festival for three years. I attended Wales's pre-eminent hootenanny every year from 2009 to 2012, and having missed the last two festivals for various reasons, I'm excited to be back in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf, watching set after set of great music, old and new.

Left: Me at Green Man 2010. Right: Me (and others) at Green Man 2012.

While I worry about what to pack, here - in no particular order - are a few of my favourite moments from the Green Man Festivals I've attended in the past:

Wilco (2009)
Wilco headlined the last night of my first Green Man Festival, and they were easily the best act of an already stellar weekend. Highlights included Spiders (Kidsmoke)I'm the Man Who Loves You, and the crazy noisy part of Via Chicago.

It was crazier and noiser live.

The Flaming Lips (2010)
I've gone off The Flaming Lips in recent years (largely because of the circumstances surround Kliph Scurlock's sacking from the band), but back in 2010, they were still one of my all-time favourites, and boy was I thrilled to finally see them live. All of the awesome stuff I'd heard about - the laser hands, the confetti cannons, the giant hamster ball - was present and correct, and singing along to Do You Realize?? was easily one of the best live music moments I've ever experienced.

Of Montreal (2012)
The sound was a bit duff for Of Montreal's festival-closing performance on the Far Out stage in 2012, but that didn't stop them from utterly slaying. Their rabid performance of The Past is a Grotesque Animal alone was worth the cost of the whole festival.


Tindersticks (2010)
As I've previously discussed, I already rather liked Tindersticks by the time I saw them on the Mountain Stage in 2010, but it was this performance that really cemented my status as a fully-fledged fan. They played plenty of songs that I knew (God, I love The Other Side of the World), but even better were the songs that, at the time, were completely new to me: Sometimes It Hurts and A Night In are the ones that stand out as highlights in my mind

The Avett Brothers (2011)
This smashing set was every bit as fun as The Flaming Lips' a year earlier, and The Avett Brothers managed it without any of the bonkers stage trimmings mentioned above. Of particular note: their utterly bananas cellist, who gave one of the most joyously unhinged performances I've ever seen.

Photo by Theresa Carter

British Sea Power (2009)
British Sea Power played two sets at Green Man 2009. Their late afternoon slot on the main stage was barnstorming, for sure, but the experience that really sticks in my memory was that of watching the band in the cinema tent later that evening. They were performing their Man of Aran soundtrack live (the film was projected onto a screen behind the band), and oh my goodness, it was beautiful stuff. Well worth the extreme discomfort of sitting on the floor with my legs crossed awkwardly to accommodate those around me.


The Low Anthem (2011)
I wasn't convinced that The Low Anthem's intimate, low-key sound would really work on the main stage of what has become a pretty major music festival. I was wrong. The clarinet sounded beautiful, the songs sounded just as warm and as lovely as they had in the tiny Rough Trade tent earlier in the day, the crowd - rather commendably - hushed to almost total silence to make sure that everybody could hear.

Willy Mason (2012)
I have mixed feelings about Willy Mason's appearance at the 2012 Green Man Festival. On the one hand, both of his sets (a short one in the Rough Trade tent, followed by a headline slot on the Walled Garden stage or whatever it was called back then) were phenomenal, and I knew every single word to practically every single song; on the other hand, I did make a complete creepy fool of my fanboy self when I met him in the Rought Trade tent in between. Oh well.

Rodriguez (2009)
In 2012, the general public suddenly became very interested in Rodriguez, mostly thanks to the film Searching for Sugar Man. I felt very cool during that period, because I had seen the man himself play live a full three years earlier. That's Green Man for you: giving you first dibs on the legends since 2003.

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There'll be no blogs for the next few days as I'll be camping somewhere in the wilds of Wales with limited internet access. Still, I'm back on Monday, and I'll be sure to let you know about all the great music I discovered over the weekend.

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