Friday, 26 August 2011

Green Man Festival 2011

So, I've finally motivated myself enough to put a few badly written words together about this year's festival; the sunniest one in the five years I've been going.

Despite the main stage headliners being slightly underwhelming this year, there was still plenty of excellent stuff to see/hear/do and plenty of great stuff that I missed.

Here's some of my highlights that I did catch, based on the rough notes I'd scribbled on my phone whilst watching bands.

Holy Fuck (or Holy Cow as they are known in our child-friendly house), headlining the Far Out tent on Friday night, played their usual blistering set of noise funk, whist the front two members were constantly re-patching their instruments as if they'd forgot to bring enough audio cables with them.

Y Niwl, "the Welsh Shadows", at the Green Man pub, put together a 40 minute set of 60s garage rock and surf music, which everyone from Black Francis to Quentin Tarrantino knows is arguably the coolest sound known to rock. Giving each song a number rather than a title (their set taught me the numbers from 1 to 20 in Welsh) is a nice way of avoiding over-pretentious titles for instrumentals too.

And here they are playing Undegpedwar (that's Fourteen in English)..

Laura J Martin deserves a special mention, purely for bringing Chaka Demus and Pliers back to the masses with her kooky ambient folk cover of Tease Me.
Destroyer were a strange choice to headline the Far Out tent on the Saturday night, which showed in the rather thin crowd who watched them. Nonetheless, after a shaky start, where the band seemed strangely detached from the mid paced music they were playing, a stunning version of Suicide Demo for Kara Walker saw them shift into another gear as the second half of the set took on a...err..distinctly balearic feel.

After that I caught the first few songs of Fleet Foxes' headline set on the Main Stage - now I love their albums and, yes, their harmonies are beautiful, but live they left me a bit cold. Maybe it's just that Saturday night isn't the right time for their music (they're more a mid afternoon in the sun kind of band), so I left early; as did a few others who I bumped into during another jaw-dropping set from Squarepusher, who was kicking off 4 hours of "after dark" music courtesy of Warp records. One hour of Tom Jenkinson on bass and FX pedals with a live drummer, creating sounds you can barely imagine and a set of tunes that it was impossible to dance out of time to (trust me, I tried). Nice touch with the futuristic microphone headpiece too. There's no footage of him from the festival online yet, but here's an feature and interview with him from the Culture Show in 2006...possibly the greatest living bass guitarist?
Sunday daytime was all about James Blake's mid afternoon set, played to a packed crowd on the main stage, with the loudest valley-shaking bass I've heard in a long time. Anyone unconvinced by his debut album really needs to catch him live. Seems like a lovely guy too.

To finish the weekend off in style, Suuns seem to have found a winning formula of brooding electro and dirty rock, before "national treasure" Gruff Rhys' set sent us all packing with a smile on our faces. Because that's what he can't help but do...

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