With August's festival calendar seemingly busier than any other month, those of us with a persuasion to stand in a field watching live music are spoilt for choice. While V Festival might be the most corporate and therefore populist, the more discerning fan of both music and the arts in general would probably be found elsewhere. Such as Green Man for instance. Situated on the Glanusk Park estate in Crickhowell to the eastern point of the Brecon Beacons, it prides itself on being one of the most unique festivals around. Having grown from a capacity of just 300 people when it started in 2003 to the 20,000 revellers here to party this weekend, it's become a festival season highlight even with such a saturated market.
What also sets it apart is the stellar line-up organisers Fiona Stewart and Ben Coleman regularly pull out of the bag, and this year's edition was no exception. With the "sold out" signs hoisted long before this weekend, its reputation for putting quality control first speaks for itself. While its picturesque setting and heavy focus on locally sourced organic produce also render it a cut above the standard festival fare of greasy burgers and warm Carling where daily nourishment is concerned.
Indeed, the only thing that cannot be guaranteed is the weather but then this is the British summer time, right? Right. So without further ado, having acquired our passes and pitched up, Contactmusic are immediately drawn to the impressive bill taking place on the Far Out Stage this Thursday evening. Flamingods experimental take on psychedelic world music and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's full throttle sonic assault prove to be particular highlights. So much in fact that headliners Wild Beasts actually seem unsure about following either act on stage and play a surprisingly muted set of material mostly lifted from new record 'Boy King' instead.
Torrential rain greets us on Friday but that doesn't hinder the quality of music on offer. Playing the first of two sets on the Mountain (main) Stage is Meilyr Jones, and with a huge crowd out front he doesn't disappoint. Songs like 'How To Recognise A Work Of Art' and 'Strange/Emotional' have become summer festival anthems for a reason and his electrifying performance here is one of the weekend's finest.
Meanwhile, Mark Mulcahy and Miracle Legion turn back the clock in style, their ephemeral take on folk rock suiting the weather, which becomes decidedly miserable for their entire set. A scramble for the drier confines of the indoor Far Out Stage ensues, meaning Kamasi Washington draws one of the largest audiences of the weekend. Nevertheless, the distinctly acquired taste of jazz doesn't quite hit the spot and Suuns' dance-infused noise rock fares better, coming on like a less frantic HEALTH or Odonis Odonis.
Shoegaze legends Lush also deliver a set steeped in nostalgia yet manage to sound so relevant at the same time. Unsurprisingly the Far Out Stage is packed to the rafters, 'Sweetness & Light' proving particularly popular with those in attendance. Having wowed Glastonbury two months ago, Charlotte Church and her Pop Dungeon set proves to be one of Green Man's most entertaining shows too. Mixing cult indie covers of people like Nine Inch Nails ('Closer') and Neutral Milk Hotel ('Holland, 1945') with more familiar numbers from the world of pop - Sugababes' 'Overload' and The Turtles 'Happy Together' being two - her performance on the Walled Garden Stage is a revelation that sets things up nicely for the next instalment of Meilyr Jones, also on top form for the second time today.
Saturday is mostly spent at the Far Out Stage, with Swedish post-punk outfit Fews providing an early highlight. Debut long player 'Means' is one of 2016's finest and they're on fire here, even playing a brand new song in the process. Motorik driven psych rock and elegantly dispatched progressive rock are represented in fine fashion respectively by Cavern Of Anti-Matter and Dungen, the latter particularly impressive during their teatime slot.
With clashes galore across the main stages, Contactmusic puts its hiking boots into full effect, catching the first half of Tindersticks melancholic set on the Mountain stage before hotfooting over to the Far Out tent for Michael Rother's Neu! heavy show. Understandably it ends up being one of the busiest crowds of the weekend, not to mention joyous as the entire tent moves deliriously when 'Hallogallo' is despatched in monumental style.
Jagwar Ma have a new album out soon and if this evening's performance is anything to go by it promises to be one of 2016's finest. It's also good to see Battles back on top form here, an elongated version of 'Atlas' being the undisputed highlight. Fat White Family's reputation as rock and roll rapscallions precedes their every movement, and with songwriter and guitarist Saul Adamczewski conspicuous by his absence the rumour mill is rife. Nevertheless, their set is an exercise in boundless energy with frontman Lias Saoudi an engaging focal point.
As Saturday night's hangovers turn into Sunday morning's excuse to continue partying, Haiku Salut demonstrate why they're fast becoming something of a national institution in the indiepop world. Arguably among the most original not to mention adventurous acts on the planet right now, their experimental melange of electronica, pop, folk and post rock is a joy to behold.
London outfit Happy Meal LTD also play a set that's equally bewitching as it is menacing with songs like 'Joanna' and 'Choo Choo Train' offering referential nods to The Fall, The Cramps and Fat White Family respectively. Genghar's romantic alt rock proves beguiling and delightful, reminding yours truly of lamented early nineties four-piece Strangelove in the process.
Fat Whites side project The Moonlandingz don't quite hit the spot in the same way their frontman's regular band do, and it's left to the soothing tones of Amber Arcades - playing an acoustic set in the Rough Trade tent - to restore parity. It's also good to have Warpaint back and the new material bodes well for their forthcoming third album.
Wales is a hotbed of talent at the minute and one of its finest outfits are Hippies Vs Ghosts. Essentially the brainchild of Owain Ginsberg, their fusion of errant psychedelia and post-rock goes down a treat and by the end of their show the Rising Stage is a heaving mass of sweaty bodies.
It's left to Belle And Sebastian to close this year's festival and they do it in style. A rarely played 'The Stars Of Track And Field' is dedicated to every athlete that competed in this summer's Olympics while 'Electronic Renaissance' and 'Step Into My Office Baby' also make a welcome return to the set.
An hour or so later and it's all over. A fittingly triumphant ending to a fantastic weekend. Thank you Green Man, once again you've been the best.
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