Thursday, 18 October 2007

Green Man Review

Written in the Bestival Internet booth after frantic phonecalling to see if I knew anyone who had actually seen bands at Green Man, so let's face it, it's not the best piece of journalism ever written. PLUS I am a dick for dissing Robert Plant. I was drunk by then and actually the guy is pretty awesome.

At some point during the GreenMan festival, New York songstress Diane Cluck calls out, "I like how no one is complaining about the weather!" Which begs the question - who exactly has Diane Cluck been hanging out with? And in which hole?

The topic of the weekend is rain. Rain that takes an area of unspeakable beauty in the Braecon Beacons and turns it into a giant urinal for the gods to piss in. Rain that inturn pisses on all the Green Man teams' meticulous planning.That's a year someone spent working on your perfect boutique festival - organic food, family play area, great acts in small spaces - and all you can think is how did i not fall down that mudbank?

So maybe i was a little slack with watching bands. Maybe the most I saw of Joanna Newsom was her jean-clad backside as she wove through the main stage crowd on Saturday, boyfriend Bill in tow. Arriving late at the Folkey Dokey stage for Fridge, I also make the mistake of asking bassist Adem what time they're on.

"That was probably our last ever gig." he says helpfully.

But that's the kind of festival GreenMan is. Spit and you'll probably gob on a perfomer you know and love. Its this kind of intimacy that has me drawn to the GreenMan Cafe, a tiny bandstand of a stage in the courtyard of some medieval castle. It's here that I see Diane Cluck's truly astounding set, during which even she seems amazed by the amount of people crammed in to see her. It's also where I see the Fence Collective perform an unplugged guerilla gig, using nothing but voices and tambourines. Surrounded by turrets, climbing ivy and people dressed like, well, Joanna Newsom, they could almost be a band of travelling minstrels from another time.

There's an ethos here, I just know it.

If the ethos has anything to do with quality, then someone forgot to tell Robert Plant. Watching him groove to his own psychedelic, folk-rock waffle is painful business, squint and you might think a tiny Stonehenge was being lowered on to the stage. Is this really all they could pull out for a Saturday night? Actually, no. Across the way, past what is either a large crowd of comatose Zeppelin fans or some trees, Brooklyn six-piece Battles are playing the set of the festival, if not the festival season. I can't believe how much they've tightened up since i last saw them. Supporting Animal Collective at the Astoria last year they were clever but lacked memorability, but tonight they have songs you can latch on to. It's clear they've mastered the perfect balancing act between chaos and concision, pop and avant garde. Plus the single, Atlas, is cat-chy. We're still singing as we drive away from the sodden hills of Wales, missing an entire day of music in the process.

Sorry, but it was raining you know

No comments: