Given the late Friday night, we woke up feeling extremely pleased we had booked ourselves two hours in a hot tub. Bathing Under the Sky do wood-fired hot tubs in wooden tubs (with some VIP tubs on the upper deck of a bus), and for the past few years have been situated on the edge of the Nature Nurture health and spirituality area in Green Man (it’s a lovely tranquil space where you go to do yoga or get pummelled by a masseuse).
And while slowly boiling in hot water might not sound like a great way to spend a couple of hours at a festival, it was worth every penny. You get to have a nice hot shower before We lucked out by joining a lovely couple from London in the tub (I stupidly only wrote down her name and forgot his – so hello Jess, if you’re reading this!), and felt pretty smug about the intermittent downpours while we were happily sipping gin and tonics and listening to the Deep Throat Choir, who had just started on the main stage.
The afternoon was then mostly spent in Einstein’s Garden, where we learned the following: how viruses could spread with the Llama Control centre; how the weather works (they also provided a live weather update on a blackboard for festival goers to plan waterproof outfits); and how propulsion works.
Speaking of the weather … you can’t avoid talking about it, can you? Especially not at a festival. For much of Saturday, there were announcements on all stages for people to make sure their tents were tied down, as gale force winds threatened to blow through the site. Dear god, we prayed, as we downed our fourth (or fifth? We stopped counting after the first) Growler (the Official Festival Beer) … please don’t let our tent be blown away before we’ve seen the man burn tomorrow night!
On Saturday night, we were excited for headliner Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but they seemed to lack something without Jade in the band. Bored halfway through, we wandered up to Far Out to have our heads blown off by Jagwar Ma’s next level live show. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but think electronic techno strobe light vibes.
We then headed back to Chai Wallahs to see the crazy energetic They Say Jump, followed by Parker & Moneyshot’s fast-paced ADHD cut and paste hip-pop disco.
After this it was back to Round The Twist, where the Alfresco Disco were pumping out some current house bangers with the odd classic thrown in (we very much enjoyed Alan Braxxe, Layo & Bushwacka and Leftfield), and then down to the Walled Garden, where someone literally had to peel me off the floor when Pete Fowler played Prince’s Controversy. Awesome Tapes from Africa played a suitably tribal set that induced much rump shaking. We were left somewhere after midnight, many Growlers in, to stumble back down the hill and fall into our tent.
The torrential rain and gale force winds never materialised, although there were (of course) occasional downpours. Sunday morning was surprisingly sunny, and so, in optimistic mood, we packed waterproofs in our rucksacks, grabbed some delicious coffee from the Table Top Coffee stall (which had expanded into a Green Man franchise this year, a second location appearing next to the Rough Trade shop), and then continued to watch the National Dance Company of Wales and their performance at the Back of Beyond, a new stage designed to showcase the best in performing arts. Unfortunately, the stage had no roof and so a couple of the performances over the weekend were rained off, but thankfully we managed to catch NDCW on Sunday with their beautiful dance piece – their first ever festival performance (we must also give mentions to Flossy and Boo, Citrus Arts & Circomedia and Kitsch n Sync – all of whom entertained greatly).
We also wandered over to Salon Mirela, where a long line of festival people were waiting patiently to be bejewelled and a-glittered. We managed to catch a couple of roaming performances from Kitsch N Sync (to Eddie Murphy’s Party All the Time) and Sparkles Hoop Troop (to Sarah Brightman’s I Lost My Heart to A Starship Trooper).
I hadn’t intended on watching any music in the afternoon, but wandered into watch probably my most stand-out band of the festival: The Moonlandingz. We had no idea who they were when they started, and my companion commented “they look like they’re from about four different bands”. Consulting the programme quickly, we realised that they are: The Moonlandingz is a ‘fictional’ band led by Sean Lennon, and at Green Man featured members of Fat White Family, Electronic Research Council and Rebecca Taylor from Slow Club (who had to peg it off 15 minutes before the end as Slow Club were about to perform on the Mountain Stage).
The Moonlandingz may be a fictional band, but they’re absolutely amazing on stage. Sean hollered, strutted and pouted his way through the set, supported by some hardcore shrieking from Rebecca and also by a bottle of red wine he swigged from every so often. The music ranged from psych to glam rock to almost metal, with my highlights being the stompy Glory Hole and nuclear-powered Sweet Saturn Mine.
I was a bit overwhelmed by how good they had been, so we recovered with a giant plate of nachos (get them in the Mexican place opposite the Mountain Stage people – you get a lot of nacho for your cash there) and then down to the Talking Shop, where I had made a note to see author Amy Liptrot talk about her book, The Outrun.
Do you ever get occasions where you’ll see something literally everywhere – like a book, or a film? I don’t even mean through advertising – just through seeing it in shops, or Around The Internet. Anyway, over the past couple of months, that thing for me has been Amy Liptrot’s book. And so it was very frustrating to get down there and see the timings of the day had been moved around – I had missed her!
She was the only literary type person I had pencilled in to see, so even though James Yorkston was talking probably very eloquently about his book Three Caws, I was bummed, so went to pick up a copy of The Outrun from Rough Trade and then went on a wander up to Chai Wallahs, where we collapsed on the floor, Growlers in hand, while uptempo Irish gypsy folk band The Eskies inspired the raucous crowd to do some energetic dancing (considering it was Sunday afternoon). Highest point of the set was Jesus Don’t Save Me, where lead singer Ian taught the crowd the call and response chorus parts, and then sang the song all the way through with a supporting choir of hundreds of stamping people.
We stayed in Chai Wallahs to watch The Gypsies of Bohema (and very much enjoyed how they started over with a cover gypsy-style cover of Backstreet’s Back by the Backstreet Boys), and then wandered back down to see comedian Alex Horne leading The Horne Section in some musical-based interactive comedy (some impressive, some incredibly impressive – and blindfolded!).
As it started getting dark, we put on our ponchos and headed for the Mountain Stage to bop around to Belle and Sebastian, who brought the perfect mixture of nostalgic pop and catchy tunes to round off the festival. We then headed up to the relocated man, for the symbolic burning. The new location, for the record, is much better than previous years – I was nowhere near the front and could still see way more than in the past!
To round things up, we wandered over to bop around to some of surprise guest DJ Yoda, before finally stumbling home.
While the line up may have been less ‘late night bangers’ than the last couple of years, this Green Man was every part as lovely. It’s one of the best festival weekends you can spend in this country; with so much to do, it’s almost impossible to get round to doing and seeing everything. The small size of the site means you can get from bed to bopping within minutes, and also that you’re not exhausted from traipsing for miles and miles, day after day. Green Man continues to dominate amongst small-to-medium-sized UK festivals, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for next year – their 15th anniversary!
Earlybird tickets for Green Man 2017 – the 15th anniversary – go on sale September 29. Don’t miss out!