North Wales’ family-run Green Man Festival lies nestled at the feet of the imposing Black Mountains. Its name, referring to the figure of a man’s face adorned with leaves- a symbol of fertility and the rebirth and cycle of nature, creates a vision in one’s mind of an experience of the magical. It suggests to us that the festival is a place to rejuvenate, to leave your troubles behind and find catharsis in its free spirited nature and the dramatic beauty of its setting.
There is a Wishing Tree in the mystically named ‘Fortune Falls’ area, whereby festival goers hang their wishes upon the branches. At the end of the festival, these are placed in the awe-inspiring Green Man effigy which towers over the The Far Out Field, and burned in a ritual that invokes closure and new beginnings. Green Man is a festival with a strong awareness of humanity, love for its people and a distinct philosophy.
Photo: Richie Lord
Many of the acts on the bill will meld perfectly with the dreamy otherness and cathartic vision of the festival. The dark ethereality of Polica’s unique electro-pop will be perfectly enrapturing . Channy Leaneagh’s vocals, which sound like she is ‘singing brushstrokes not words’ (Pitchfork) mix with heavily amplified bass lines and double percussionists, making for a heady concoction. They are joined by the hazy, shoegazing psych-rock of Toy, whose latest album ‘Join the Dots’ gained much critical acclaim, described by NME as impressing most in its ‘long blasts of expansive weirdness’. Lanterns on the Lake perfectly echo the festivals philosophy, experiencing their own rebirth in their second album, 2013 release ‘Until The Colours Run’, (declared as ‘one of the best records of the young decade’ (Drowned in Sound)) which sees them truly discover themselves. Make sure you give the beautifully quirky and imaginative video for the title track a watch.
Daughter are also a choice perfectly intertwined with the festival’s setting, their debut being called “mountain range-massive” by The Fly and its concept too: ‘If You Leave’ is “staggeringly beautiful from beginning to close, a catharsis that’s both bracing and woozily amniotic” (The Line Of Best Fit). East India Youth’s debut ‘Total Strife Forever’ has also gained much critical praise in the past year and spurred on the attainment of many a festival slot in the coming summer. He seems to be quite incongruous to the spirituality of the festival. His clean electronic music has a distinctly digital sound, and seems contemporarily cold against a festival which steeps itself in a symbol deeply woven into human history. However, on deeper examination, East India Youth’s brain, William Doyle, is complexly experimenting with how electronic music can be honed to reflect the isolation of human condition, and so is an interesting and forward-thinking choice.
Photo: Catherine Farmer
Kurt Vile is another member of the line up who has brought an important contribution to 2013’s album table with ‘Wakin on a Pretty Daze’. Evading categorisation but drawing comparisons such as Neil Young and Tom Petty, his sound and lyrics reflect such a laid back attitude that it has been said in Uncut that he has elevated idleness to an art form. He will be accompanied by his band, amusingly named The Violators. The soulful and arty Anna Calvi, with her outstanding, soaring vocals is likened to Patti Smith for the new generation, and also joins these strong ranks of diverse musical talent. In addition, Caribou’s eclectic mix of psychedelic pop, house and minimal techno has already established Dan Snaith’s (the mind behind the sound) popularity and success, especially with breakthrough album, 2010’s ‘Swim’. Recently however, things have appeared quiet in the Caribou camp, though with this and a string of other top festival appearances, they won’t be for much longer. Finally, Sweden’s First Aid Kit display an emotional intelligence far beyond the years of sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg. Their sunny, acoustic sound is offset against lyrics informed by heartfelt emotional pain. Their latest album is set for release on the 9th June.
Photo: Olly Thomas
Elswhere in the line up, headliners Neutral Milk Hotel are joined by Beirut, Simian Mobile Disco, Mac DeMarco, Angel Olsen, RY X, Speedy Ortiz, Bill Callahan, I Break Horses and many more. Visit the official Green Man Festival website to see the full line up.
So, mix together a thoughtfully selected line up of in-the-moment artists and emerging talent with lots of fantastic cider and real ale, stir in a great man-shaped lump of shrubbery, and sprinkle over lots of fine spoken word, comedy and arts in a big cauldron of enchanting surroundings and you have created the weekend of the 14th-17th of August in The Black Mountains, in other words the bewitching Green Man Festival.
By Sophie Brear