Green Man 2007

August 21, 2007

Well, I’m back, showered and rested after an exhausting but fun Green Man festival. This year’s event was bigger than last year’, up from about 6,000 to the 10,000 mark. The festival still retained its intimate character though, and it was always easy to buy a drink, get some food, or use one of the (relatively clean) chemical toilets. Neither did this increase in numbers detract from the idyllic location, set in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, with proper misty mountains and ancient forests.

The crowd was an interesting mix, with 20-something hipsters, 30-something parents of young families (meaning there were loads of kids running round!), and a fair smattering of 6-festivals-a-summer types. The location, near Abergavenny on the Welsh borders, meant that there was a strong Welsh contingent, as well as lots of people from Bristol, the Midlands and the North. The slightly older nature of the crowd makes things a bit more laid back than your Readings or Glastonburys, which suits a prematurely middle aged and congenitally grumpy person like me just fine.

The weather was not as good as it could have been. After a pretty clement Friday, it poured down all Saturday morning, making for a very wet day. This didn’t seem to dampen spirits too much, though, it was just a bit of a pity there couldn’t have been a bit more sunshine.

Anyway, on to the most imortant thing, the music. Green Man’s predominant theme is folk, but not necessarily the arran jumper, pint of bitter, finger in ear variety. As well, lots of other styles are represented, ranging from some fairly hard rocking stuff, to the weirdly psychedelic.

My favourite band of the weekend were probably Clinic, who are about as far from folk as it’s possible to get: droning, farsifa-smothered, krautrocking garage-blues, with very odd lyrics, reminiscent of the Fall.  They also wore those puritan hats, which was a nice touch.

Honourbale mentions go to Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation, who played a number of Led Zeppelin tunes, and were therefore great; Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, who were admittedly a bit jamming, but also played some excellent Pavement-esque skewed pop songs; Gruff Rhys, who played from inside a television test card set, and finished with a 20 minute power ballad about a plane being hijacked, complete with dramatisation; and Dead Meadow, who played howling blues-rock with some heavy riffing. I did see a bunch of other bits of sets as well, as is so often the way with festivals.

Then there are the duds, and in particular a couple of acts that really annoyed me. I know that Joanna Newsom isn’t supposed to be easy, and that those people who “get” her rave about her, but I’m afraid that one warble from her was enough to send me running for the safety of my tent. The other one was Devendra Banhart: he just makes me think 70s soft rock of the worst Eagles or Santana variety. No need!

Anyway, enough bitching, and a few other things to mention. The DJ tent was a real highlight, like last year, in as much as it afforded some protection from the damp, and the DJs played some great records. Mostly these were of the weird rock variety- I heard Hawkwind, Can, Faust, Wilco’s krautrock number off A Ghost is Born, and Silver Apples’ far-out “Oscillations” no less than twice. The best was saved until the Sunday, when Andy Votel played all sorts of weird and funky stuff, including one track that I can only describe as Turkish prog rock, not something you hear every day.

The best non-musical event was hearing Ben Goldacre, of Bad Science fame, giving a talk about a number of different subjects around the theme of how the media is complicit with big pharma and the “alternative health” industries in misrepresenting science. While I have issues with his representation of “mainstream media” as monolithic, he was an excellent speaker, and his demolition job on claims made by the likes of homeopaths were right on the money. Also, the book stall was excellent (I picked up a copy of the Sword of Honour trilogy for £3.50), and there was a very good record shop selling a surprisingly wide variety of stuff.

All in all, a lovely weekend, and one to hopefully be repeated next year. I must admit, though, that as I sit writing this (at home, yay!), I’m listening to a steady diet of electropop, hip hop, techno and other synthetic sounds, as if to cleanse the palate from all those lightly strummed guitars and pastoral melodies.


5 Responses to “Green Man 2007”

  1. Sophie Says:

    Wow sounds good! Wish I’d been now 😦

  2. neilstewart Says:

    It was indeed great fun, Sophie! Maybe next year…

  3. Sophie Says:

    hehehe yep, will be there 😀

  4. Ben Says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more about Devendra Banhart. Not what I was expecting, and not in a good way…

    Much less concise review than yours here

  5. neilstewart Says:

    Cheers Ben, heading over to your blog now to have a read!

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