The last day of a good festival is a strange time. You’re worn out from two other full-on days. But yet you’re really sad that there’s only another one of them left. It’s the same sensation you got when you were a kid on holiday- you know its drawing to a close and there’s nothing you can do, but you desperately want to hold on. Well, Green Man has a special pagan ritual to help us deal with these feelings. We can therefore accept the fleeting beauty of our weekend in the Brecon Beacons, because we know we can do it all again next year. ..
Vancouver Sleep Clinic- Far Out
Vancouver Sleep Clinic is the moniker of 17 year old Australian Tim Bettinson who creates haunting RnB infused electro reminiscent of How To Dress Well and SOHN. He stuns the budding afternoon crowd with his breath-taking falsetto voice which sounds far beyond his tender years. It is truly unexpected coming from a young lad in a flat back cap. Most definitely one to watch.
Samaris- Far Out
Intriguing Icelandic outfit Samaris impress with their ethereal electronica, which has the addition of clarinet. I often find Icelandic music to be deeply inspired by its country of origin, and this sounds to be the case for Samaris. Within singer Jófríður Ákadóttir’s haunting vocals, there lies a pervasive sense of loneliness which conjures in mind the quiet, captivating beauty of Icelandic landscapes and of their home city, Reykjavik. There is a celestial, sad and slightly gothic beauty to the set. Often it seems Jófríður is not even singing words but just making ghostly, lost moaning sounds (in a beautiful way). The bass is quite heavy but the sound sparse and cavernous, the clarinet refrains creating an icy musical fairy tale.
Alexis Taylor- Far Out
Unfortunately, Alexis Taylor’s solo material just doesn’t have the fun, quirky electro essence of Hot Chip. It’s actually a very serious performance- not a smile is seen on Alexis’ face. His unusual, high-pitched voice is probably his greatest asset here and there is nothing else particularly remarkable or original about the tracks he plays. ‘Hot Squash’ contains a few more infectious, dancey Hot Chip vibes but nothing else sticks in mind. He doesn’t really attempt to make much of a show for the audience- barely even interacting with them. It’s like he’s not bothered about the songs either, which only further cools our lukewarm feelings towards them. Our hopes of a reunion between Alexis and fellow Hot Chip member Joe Goddard (as he was DJing at the festival in the act 2 Bears) burned until the very end but were left unfulfilled. We should have known a rendition of Hot Chip classics such as ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Ready for the Floor’ was a hopeless dream. The crowd seems much more enamoured by multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Sarah than by Alexis and his music. Alexis and his band leave the stage after a short 35 minute set, leaving us underwhelmed.
Anna Calvi- Mountain Stage
Anna Calvi gives us a mixed performance in her gracing of the Mountain Stage in the late afternoon. She didn’t blow any minds and her music is often at risk of becoming an ignorable background noise rather than a centre stage performance. Undeniably, she has a great voice, but her songs tend to get a tad samey and she doesn’t engage as a performer. We can only listen to so many ooo-ooo songs and retain interest. Despite this, tracks ‘Desire’ and ‘Blackout’ stand out, though elsewhere the set doesn’t have much of an impact.
Kurt Vile and The Violators- Far Out
I was not converted to thinking that the Far Out tent was the perfect setting for Kurt Vile’s set. Everything cried out lazy summer’s day, except the darkness of the tent and the chill in the night air. His sleepy guitar licks and dozy voice have the effect of making you want to lie back on the grass and gaze at the clouds. Still, the crowd is pretty damn chilled out, and Kurt is much to be expected as well. He’s just a slacker dude in need of a haircut, his face hidden behind a curtain of wild brown locks. He’s far from a showman, but he’s not trying to be. He wants the crowd to be just as zoned out as he is. Or should that really be in the zone, lost in the laze.
The real festival finale is the ritual burning of the Green Man effigy. The burning symbolises the cycle of life and the fleetingness of our temporary state. Within half an hour the Green Man, once stood at a majestic stature, is no more than a heap of ashes. The show goes off in awe-inspiring fashion, leaving onlookers open mouthed as fire-works explode from his face. After this it gets pretty creepy as he burns from within, his masked face a black silhouette against the consuming flames. He gradually becomes a skeletal frame and bit by bit, collapses. It was sad, in a way, to see such a beautiful creation destroyed, but the ceremony is positive and full of hope for new beginnings.
After the ceremony, we huddle round the bonfire to reflect on our weekend. As a young man plays acoustic guitar, prompting a sing along, I feel Green Man festival has been a life-affirming experience. It’s about so much more than just music. It’s a lifestyle, and it’s about ordinary people having the power to inspire and create magic of their own. The turn of the year’s wheel will bring around Green Man Festival 2015 and we will definitely be there.
By Sophie Brear