Down amongst the mountainous green beauty of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, beyond endless fields of livestock and wildlife, is where you’ll find the most magical and captivating festival of the summer. This is the home of Green Man, which founded in 2003, has just had its biggest and most wonderful year yet.
It’s a festival not often mentioned in the media or widely advertised anywhere beyond Wales, possibly due to its size – a pleasantly comfortable 20,000 capacity, which is miniscule when compared to the madness of a festival like Glastonbury which holds up to 200,000 people – but after selling out for the first time this year it’s clear that it is well loved by those in the know.
Its great success is also down to the extraordinary line up which they always manage to improve on every year, and this year was one of its best. The main stage (known as the Mountain Stage) headline slots came from the quirky party starters Hot Chip, Welsh legends Super Furry Animals, and a magnificently theatrical Sunday night closing set from St Vincent, a personal highlight of the weekend. Other artists from throughout the festival that have to be mentioned though are the cosmic psychedelia of Slowdive who headlined the Far Out tent on Saturday, the fantastic new folk-rock hero Father John Misty, the Swedish psych madness that is Goat, 70’s rock veterans Television – who played their iconic ’77 album Marquee Moon in full, ambient electronic DJ god Jamie XX, funny alt-dance-rock guys Public Service Broadcasting… Courtney Barnett… The Fall… Marika Hackman… Temples… I could go on for days, and that’s just the big names. This year’s big names. In the previous two years that I’ve attended the festival I’ve seen some remarkable performances from Neutral Milk Hotel, Caribou, Mac Demarco, Fat White Family, Band of Horses, and in 2013 the Thursday night – yes the Thursday night – was headlined by none other than punk poet heroine Patti Smith. This festival never ceases to amaze with what it can offer.
Green Man is also an incredible place for discovering new and exciting music that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise come across, with its enchanting small stage in the Walled Garden, and the Chai Wallahs tent where there’s always a party of live hip hop, reggae, calypso, jazz and anything else that will keep you moving your feet until 4 o’clock in the morning. On top of all that there’s the Green Man Rising program that gives local and upcoming unsigned artists the chance to play at the festival.
I think it’s safe to say that they’ve got the music covered at Green Man, but as well as that there’s a whole array of alternative entertainment. The Babbling Tongues tent hosts talks and interviews with some of the most important and interesting people at the festival, as well as sets from some of the biggest names in comedy who pack out the tent until late in the night.
And then, after all the magic and wonderment has settled, on the Sunday night at midnight the festival is concluded with the ceremonial burning of the breathtakingly crafted Green Man himself, to end his time with us until he is reborn next year, like a beautiful leafy phoenix growing from year to year into something more and more magnificent.