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Sŵn Festival 2018 review

Sŵn Festival 2018: a return to form

After a couple of years in the wilderness, the crazy energy of the first Sŵns returned this year – with some new venues, and a slightly different format. And we had a great time! Our highlights included: cheeky cocktails in between shows at Blue Honey, gigs in a secret room out the back of Kongs (who knew Kongs was so big???), not getting into loads of gigs but just dancing in the street outside (sorry Estrons! We really wanted to see you, although we heard you caused structural damage to the venue?!), wonderful Gaz Coombes and wonderful Boy Azooga slotting in perfectly between Gaz and The Go! Team, a sweaty set from Hana 2K in the Moon, Al Moses, Griff Lynch, and Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard.

A return to the multi-venue, multi-day vibe all in Cardiff was brilliant. Vive la Sŵn!

We sent photojournalist Mehek Seth out into the madness, and here’s her photo essay.

In case you missed it, here’s the Spotify playlist from this year:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/swnfestival/playlist/5ikHsoiQ9NykJabg7kbIqn

CONGRATS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED THIS YEAR, YOU PULLED A BLINDER!

We can’t wait for next year …

Sŵn Festival website

Sŵn Festival Twitter

Sŵn Festival Instagram

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Mehek Seth is a second year BA Photojournalism student at University of South Wales. Follow her on Instagram emm.ess.

Sŵn Festival 2018 – full line up announced!

With the news earlier this year than Sŵn Festival had changed hands, we were excited to hear about the line up announcement … and it’s finally here!

The final wave of Sŵn bands have been announced for this iconic Cardiff city festival, taking place Wednesday 17 – 20 October 2018. WHOOP!

Previous announcements already brought you Gaz Coombes, Boy Azooga, Drenge, Gwenno, 77:78 and Queen Zee – and now there are 30 more awesome acts …

Heavenly’s The Orielles will open Thursday’s mammoth gig at The Great Hall alongside grunge rock brothers Drenge and Melbourne’s tough surf pop outfit, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

Jacob’s Market on Friday will be a massive night, with Cardiff homegrown Darkhouse Family curating a night of hypnotic, jazz and dance tunes with Bugz in the Attic performing live, alongside Esther and Andromeda Jones.

Cardiff-based Estrons are one of our favourites (they’ve just released their debut album You Say I’m Too Much , get yours now!) have a reputation for their bold, electrifying gigs, which means they’re certainly not one to miss this year – they’re playing on the Saturday. Joining them is Canadian artist Boniface, who unites 80s synth-pop with contemporary 21st century indie-pop to create a rare and electrifying performance.

Sŵn Festival takes place over four days (17-20 October) and 17 venues: Buffalo Bar, Clwb Ifor Bach, Fuel, Gwdihw Café Bar, Kongs, Nos Da, O’Neills, Off Track Café, The Big Top, The Blue Night Café, The Great Hall, The Moon, The Old Market Tavern, Tiny Rebel, Tramshed and Undertone.

Adam Williams, Live Manager at Clwb Ifor Bach (who are now managing the festival) said: “We’re over the moon to announce the final wave of artists for Swn Festival 2019. It’s been six months since we were asked to take on running and booking the festival and we’re super happy with what we’ve produced. Now all we have left is to deliver it!

“Sŵn Festival has been a vital part of the Cardiff music calendar for the last 12 years and it’s been really exciting for us at Clwb to build on that success – we hope we’ve created something special and that people continue to enjoy this festival for many more years to come.”

Wristbands for Sŵn are on sale now. For more information and to get your tickets, go to swnfest.com. Follow @swnissound on Twitter. or join the party with Sŵn on Facebook or Sŵn Instagram.

GET HYPED FOR THE FESTIVAL WITH THE PLAYLIST:

TICKET INFO:

Wednesday, Tramshed, £15

Thursday, The Great Hall, £16

Friday, various city centre venues, £20 (general release)

Saturday, various city centre venues, £25 (general release)

Weekend, across the city, £35 (2nd release)

4 Day Golden Ticket, £60 (second release)

Full line-up (we’ve highlighted out picks in bold, in case you give a fork …)

77:78; ACCÜ; Adwaith; Al Moses; Andromeda Jones; Annabel Allum; Another Sky; Argrph; Bandicoot; Bitw; Bo Ningen; Boniface; Boy Azooga; Breichiau Hir; Bugz In The Attic; Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard; Carolines; Carw; Cassia; Castorp; Chartreuse; Christian Punter; Cosmo Sheldrake; Cousin Kula; Cowtown; Cpt. Smith; CVC; Dead Method; Dream Wife; Drenge; Drunk Yoga DJs; Ed The Dog; Esther; Estrons; Farm Hand; Fling; Frown Upon; Gaz Coombes; Giant Party; Goat Girl; Great News; Greta Isaac; Grey Hairs; Griff Lynch; GRLTLK; Gwenno; Halo Maud; Hana2k; Heavy Rapids; HMS Morris; Ivan Moult; I See Rivers; Keeva; Keir; Knowbetter; L.A. Salami; Lewys; Los Blancos; Low Island; Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard; Marged; Martha; Mellow Gang; Mellt; MRPHY; My Name Is Ian; Night Flight; Oh Peas!; Perfect Body; Pizzagirl; Private World; Queen Zee; Quiet Marauder; Rascalton; Red Telephone; RedFaces; Right Hand Left Hand; Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever; RYD; Sam Evian; Scott Xylo; Silent Forum; Snapped Ankles; Sock; Spinning Coin; Suuns; Talkshow; Tamu Massif; Teddy Hunter; The Blinders; The Death of Money; The Effect; The Gentle Good; The Go! Team; The Mysterines; The Orielles; The Pitchforks; The Witching Hour; Tigress; Tracy Island; Vive La Void; Wasuremono; Wild Cat Strike; XY&O; Y Sybs; Ya Yonder; Yassassin; Yves; Zabrinski; Zac White

Have a scroll through We Are Cardiff’s previous Sŵn content

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Green Man 2018 – festival in review

It was the sixteenth Green Man Festival this year. It remains a wonderful and immersive experience – free from blaring corporate sponsorships and steeped in the magical Welsh mountains. In our opinion, this was the best Green Man yet.

The Mountain Stage, with Crug Hywel (Table Mountain) off in the background

The Guardian and Telegraph have already given the festival 5/5 stars, which we’d agree with – read on for our comprehensive romp around one of the best blinking festivals we’ve ever been to!

The fact that Green Man sells out – year after year – should tell you something about what happens to people that come to this festival. This year was my eighth Green Man, and as far as I’m concerned, the best yet.

Even when not adorned with miles of bunting, walkabout performers and stages large and small offering up musical wonderments, the Glanusk Estate is a beautiful environment. The Mountain Stage sits at the bottom of a grassy amphitheatre, with stepped ledges allowing for maximum relaxing while you’re listening to music waft up the hill, while Crug Hywel (the Table Mountain for which the Table Top area is named) dominates the backdrop.

Add in 20,000 glittering, tie-dyed people of all ages, the option of a full week of activities through the Settlement camping beforehand, and a whole beer festival within the actual festival – and you’re getting closer to the spirit of Green Man. There’s no corporate sponsorship anywhere – no Carlsberg tent, or Volvo spa area. Pints of beer and cider – all independently produced – are reasonably priced. Considering some day festivals in London charge £80 a ticket and £6.50 for a can of Red Stripe, and you’re starting to wonder why people would bother when you can come here instead.

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Revellers in the glow of the Mountain Stage
The ‘man’. This year, the Green Man sported a very natty pair of horns, and is covered in written wishes that all go up in flames on the Sunday – delivering them to the universe!

General camping opens to the public on Thursday morning at 10am, and so after a hearty Wetherspoons breakfast en route (don’t judge) we rolled into the campsite. As there were a few of us this year all squeezed into my tiny car, we opted for a pre-erected tent rather than hiring a bigger vehicle to hold all our tents. And I must say, if there’s a few of you, or if wrangling tents just isn’t your thing, the Tangerine Fields campsite is brilliantly located at Green Man – directly behind the Mountain Stage, meaning you still feel totally embedded in the action even when you’ve just popped back to get a jumper.

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Once our minimalist camp was set up, most of Thursday was spent doing a lap of the site, and trying to find somewhere open early enough for us to get our first cider on. The ever-reliable Chai Wallahs opened earliest, with the Diplomats of Sound DJs serving funky beats and the bar serving whiskey coffees (a recommended mid-day pick me up). The rest of the day was spent puzzling over the popularity of Jimothy Lacoste (an old editor of mine once said if you’ve got nothing good to say about an artist, don’t say anything at all. So it’s best I say silent on this one, but I can at least convey some facts: 1 – he mimes, 2 – the kids seem to love it); enjoying a quick trip to the Cinedrome tent (which can provide a welcome respite from the weather and noise outside) for a screening of Anorac, Huw Stephens’ documentary film about the Welsh language music scene across the country (well worth catching if you can).

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“I would like to think that our nationalism, our Welshness, is defined by something bigger than just historical oppression”

We then headed up to the Far Out stage for Thursday night’s closers. We enjoyed bouncy Scot The Pictish Trail, then ended the night with a rousing and spine-tingling Public Service Broadcasting show. Their last album Every Valley took listeners on a journey down the mineshafts of the South Wales valleys, and although the purpose of the record is to shine a light on the “disenfranchised working class in this age of turmoil”, there was something particularly haunting about hearing the music just a few miles from the heartlands of the Welsh coal mining industry. Also, they brought the Beaufort Male Voice choir onto the stage. No, you’re crying. Blep.

On Friday we were up early and back up to Table Top to catch the “official” druid opening of the festival. This year Archdruid of Glastonbury Rollo Maughfling performed the opening solo (some other Stonehenge druids were on their way but had got lost …). We wished for peace throughout the whole world, chanted a bit, and then having blessed the festival, gave a large round of applause and went about our day.

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Archdruid of Glastonbury Rollo Maughfling blesses the festival
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Finding critters
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Nature activities for big and small kids

We lazed in the sunshine and enjoy the shiny pop of Amber Arcades followed by the spacious ditties of Eleanor Friedberger, before deciding to explore the festival a little more.

The Nature Nurture area is where to head to if you’re looking for something for your body, your mind, or a bit of both, with the area offering every massage you can imagine, nutrition from a vegan cafe, or even shamanic journeys or gong baths, if you’re so inclined. After wandering the area for a while, I decided on some inversion – being strapped to a board and hung upside down for ten minutes, which is supposed to reduce pressure on your back and neck, allowing it to stretch out and recover from all that sitting on hard ground and lying on lumpy camp beds. (I enjoyed it so much I went and did it again on Sunday).

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Having a good stretch

For the rest of Friday, we enjoyed the psychedelic noodlings of Beak>, aka Geoff Barrow of Portishead, the weird rnb/indie pop of Dirty Projectors, and then it was back up to the Far Out Stage, where the programming was a bit skew-whiff. Firstly it was Floating Points live, which felt like a very Berlin style minimal set you’d expect at 4am in a weird dive bar down some hole in Alexanderplatz, followed by one of my festival highlights, Mount Kimbie. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them – the last time was a very different kind of ‘live’ gig at Cardiff Arts Institute in 2010, which you can listen to here: Mount Kimbie Live at Cardiff Arts Institute 2010). This was full live band, with pounding intensity and great upbeat tunes. And then, what we were waiting for – the main event for After Dark – John Talabot. What we were expecting was techno – but what we got was some weird cheesey rnb disco. It wasn’t until some time later after we’d all left Far Out, somewhat confused, that someone in Chai Wallahs told us John Talabot had pulled out due to illness, and it was in fact a Floating Points DJ set.

I was very drunk and belligerent by this point (apparently all I said for an hour was “where’s the f***ing techno” until my second brandy chai, where I lost the ability to speak completely). We headed for the ferris wheel, which often has the most banging tunes of any venue on site – no jokes, you get on there and get whizzed up and down, and then see if you’re not screaming with glee while they play Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ followed by DJ Zinc’s ‘Wile out’.

Luckily, the Walled Garden is on the way home from the top end of the site, meaning we got to stumble into the brilliant Heavenly Jukebox, where I’m pretty sure we stayed for about an hour, although the only song I can definitely remember was something by Lionel Ritchie? Anyway, big up to Jeff, Diva and the crew who mercifully I didn’t go and talk to, because I was beyond speech and no one except my nearest and dearest should ever had to deal with me in that state.

After such a heavy Friday night, I think it’s fair to say everyone in the tent cursed me at least five times when I woke them all up at 8.30am with the bright and breezy news that ‘WE’VE GOT A HOT TUB AT TEN AM GUYS!’. Bathing Under The Sky have been bringing their wood-fired hot tubs to Green Man since 2015, and although it might not seem like it, there’s nothing better for sorting out that hangover than slowly boiling in hot water, then submerging yourself in a freezing cold plunge pool, and repeating for two hours.

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Saturday morning hot tub

It’s a luxury that’s worth investing in, although one member of our party was so hungover all he managed was five minutes in the hot tub (he did also vom in one of the bins right in front of the Mountain Stage on the way back – yep, the bit where all the kids play – just as Sweet Baboo struck his first chords to open the stage on the Saturday). “GREEN MAN! YEAH!”

After depositing our worse-for-wear tent mate, we headed back out into the festival, feeling fully refreshed, where Westerman was playing in the Walled Garden, and we picked up our first cider of the day (my drink of choice throughout the whole festival was a nice half of the Mortimer’s Orchard English Berry cider. Mmmm).

Westerman in the Walled Garden
Walled Garden in full swing
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The black hole for all my cash on site, the Rough Trade stand

After that, the afternoon was a haze of sax-lead jazz from Nubya Garcia and crunchy guitars and huge trousers from Bo Ningen.

Bo Ningen

After that, we waited around Far Our for another one of the other acts I’d been really excited about seeing – north Walian nu techno kween Kelly Lee Owens. Instead, some gal with a guitar took to the stage … again, with no announcement about the line up change, but we did find out from a steward she also had pulled out due to illness (techno flu must be going around). I wasn’t drunk enough to be livid this time, but did bemoan the lack of screen outside Far Out notifying people of line-up changes. The night still ended on a high as I had a spiritual experience to the magnificent John Grant (who is 50! Can you believe he’s 50??), followed by Simian Mobile Disco with the Deep Throat Choir playing their latest album, Murmurations.

Although I didn’t spend any time at the Green Man Rising Stage this year, the fact that Deep Throat Choir were headlining the Far Out stage is a testament to the stepping stone that Rising plays in the careers of so many acts – I first saw them on the Rising Stage in 2014. But there’s so much to do every year … it’s impossible to get around to doing everything …

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Bubbles

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So when Sunday rolled around, and I realised it was our last day (last day!), we rolled the picnic blanket out in front of Xylouris White and enjoyed some wonderful jazz by way of Crete and Australia, before I decided to go and hang myself upside down in the Nature Nurture field one last time, and then topped up the wellbeing with a half hour massage. Well worth the investment, you could have poured me out of that field back into the festival.

Another area of the festival I’ve not mentioned yet is the Back of Beyond – the performance area, with an aerial rig for trapeze, hoop and rope performances (right next to a flying trapeze you can have a go at if you’re feeling brave!). This year the hosts of the afternoon entertainment were the usually NSFW Mr and Mrs Clark, who brought much merriment and shenanigans to the stage.

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Mr and Mrs Clark

And here’s Mrs Clark, leading the crowd in some festival yoga.

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Mrs Clark
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The Kitsch n Sync ladies…

Other highlights of Sunday were the totally demented Nine-Inch-Nails-psych of Follakzoid, smooth r’n’b stylings of Curtis Harding, the huge lung capacity of Anna Calvi, and then the Mountain Stage finale – epic rock-n-roll from The War on Drugs, who I was expecting little from, but really enjoyed. It’s familiar and huge-sounding – much more engaging and demanding than the band are on record.

Once the headliners had finished we ambled up the hill to watch them burn the Green Man from the safety of the large safety perimeter fence. A lot of people use the burn as their festival watershed, but I felt revived after hanging upside down and getting pummelled earlier in the day, so wandered over to Far Out, where High Contrast challenged everyone to bring their best bass face and smashed out some incredibly dark drum and bass to finish the weekend off.

Stumbling around the site, I decided to do what I always do at the end of the festival, and do one final victory lap. The Deptford Northern Soul Club were still going strong in the walled garden, full of an energetic audience filled with plenty of cross-dressing (did anyone else notice that as a thing this year?), tie dye, and plenty of biodegradable glitter.

It’s impossible to round it up in a sentence, other than to say the bands were wonderful, the food was great, the weather held out – and it’s still, by a long way, one of my favourite festivals. The lack of corporate sponsorship and the beautiful setting makes for a special experience – where you really do feel like you’re immersed in a completely different, magical world. Long live Green Man – mark out the 15-18 August 2019 in your calendar, and make sure you follow Green Man on all their channels for early bird tickets.

Waiting for a go on the Ferris Wheel
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More bubbles
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Waiting for liquid refreshments
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Some downtime with the Guardian crossword
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Far Out!

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To see our full round up of Green Man photographs and see all the We Are Green Man festival portraits from this year, head to the We Are Green Man Facebook page!

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Green Man 2018 – final line up announcement! Got your tickets yet?

Our favourite Brecon Beacons based arts extravaganza Green Man Festival is looking REAL FINE this year, with a line up that includes plenty of Cardiff talent (boom) and headliners from ACROSS THE GLOBE. Tickets usually sell out early summer, so make sure you get yours in soon!

New music line up additions today (we’ve highlighted our We Are Cardiff fav picks in bold – in particular we can’t wait to see Bristol gig legend Big Jeff making his Green Man DJ debut …!)

Teenage Fanclub | Whyte Horses | Follakzoid | The Lovely Eggs | Insecure Men | Frankie Cosmos | Eleanor Friedberger | Ari Roar | J. Bernardt | Horsey | Celebrating Bert Jansch | Black Midi | The Cosmic Array | Squid

DJs – High Contrast | Huw Stephens | Tom Ravenscroft | Alfresco Disco | Heavenly Jukebox | Lycra | Dutty Disco | Big Jeff | Fever Club

Chai Wallahs Stage – Afla Sackey & Afrik Bawantu | Agbeko | Amy True | Animal Noise | Animanz | Ben Catley | Berget Lewis | Edd Keene | Friendly Fire | Gringo Ska | Groovelator | Holly Holden y Su Banda | Joncan Kavlakoglu | Kiriki Club | Lazy Habits | Lost Tuesday Society | Monster Ceilidh Band | Samsara | Snazzback | Solana | Soul Grenades | Sounds of the Siren | The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble | Tropical Tea Party feat DJ Hiphoppapotamus | Will Varley | Wrongtom

And in case you need more convincing, have a look at our Green Man video from last year …

Previously confirmed music line up:

The War On Drugs | Fleet Foxes | King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard |

John Grant | Grizzly Bear | Dirty Projectors | The Brian Jonestown Massacre | Public Service Broadcasting | Anna Calvi | Cate Le Bon | Mount Kimbie | Floating Points (live) | The Black Angels | John Maus | The Lemon Twigs | Joan As Police Woman | Teleman | Kevin Morby | Baxter Dury | Curtis Harding | Tamikrest | Courtney Marie Andrews | Susanne Sundfor | John Talabot | Simian Mobile Disco (live) featuring Deep Throat Choir | Wye Oak | Jane Weaver | Alex Cameron | Phoebe Bridgers | Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever | Kelly Lee Owens | Bo Ningen | Beak> | Chastity Belt | HMLTD | Sweet Baboo | A Hawk and a Hacksaw | Xylouris White | Lost Horizons | Shannon Lay | Pictish Trail | Marlon Williams | Lucy Dacus | The KVB | Omni | Goat Girl | Duds | Snapped Ankles | Jade Bird | Boy Azooga | Snail Mail | Nubya Garcia | Charles Watson | Ider | Ed Dowie | Haley Heynderickx | Bas Jan | Seamus Fogarty | Juanita Stein | Sacred Paws | The Murlocs | Jim Ghedi | Sorry | Stella Donnelly | Spinning Coin | Group Listening | Haze | Fenne Lily | Adwaith | Accu | Sock | Aadae | Teenage Fanclub | Whyte Horses | Follakzoid | The Lovely Eggs | Insecure Men |

ERMEGERD right?? All of this in addition to the amazing Talking Shop and Last Laugh announcements made earlier this year … Get your tickets and join the annual decamp to the beautiful Brecon Beacons!

Buy Green Man tickets now

Green Man website

Images from last year’s birthday bash!

More We Are Cardiff – Green Man coverage:

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Green Man headliners announced! PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams and Future Islands bring the party!

Great news, party people – the Green Man headliners have been announced for the 15th birthday, and they are looking GOOD!

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This year we celebrate Green Man on 17 – 20 August, and check out the headliners – and these are three acts you can ONLY SEE at Green Man this year – they aren’t playing any other UK festivals!

PJ Harvey will be playing the Mountain Stage, ten years since she last played in Wales. Bring the noise!

Ryan Adams brings moody, devilish journeys through country music and Americana to the Black Mountains.

Future Islands – the crazy silky groovemasters bring their madness to Wales for the first time ever!

BUY TICKETS FOR GREEN MAN NOW

 

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Other news: two time Mercury nominated soulmaster Michael Kiwanuka returns to GM for the third time to transfix with his panoramic, soul-stirring exaltations from last year’s number one record. Following 2016’s triumphant return with new album ‘Flotus’, we welcome the magisterial melancholy of the legendary Lambchop. Also Conor Oberst– the man behind the much-loved Bright Eyes – will be getting your stirring up misty-eyed moments and Angel Olsen returns following a clean sweep of critical adulation for 2016’s ‘MY WOMAN’.

With a whole load more eye-catching propositions – like 6Music’s album of the year from jazz wizards BadBadNotGood, a DJ set from long time GM pal Jon Hopkins, the ever excellent Field Music, Julia Jacklin and much, much more added to the bill, our birthday bash is shaping up to be a real corker already.

We’ve still got a Thursday night headliner tucked away up our sleeve, plus plenty more amazing acts (including a party-starting programme of After Dark DJs) to be announced.

Stay tuned for more news!

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Green Man 2017 takes place in the beautiful Brecon Beacons from Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th August, putting glorious musical performers in the most magical of settings. With 10 unique areas, there are whole worlds to explore – from late night, frisky goings-on in the Far Out field, to the best in Comedy and Literature in Babbling Tongues, over one hundred beers and ciders in The Courtyard to beaker-fizzing experiments inEinstein’s Garden, and loads, loads more besides, there’s no better place to dive in and see where you end up.

Line-up in full:

PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams, Future Islands, Michael Kiwanuka, Lambchop, Conor Oberst, Angel Olsen,BadBadNotGood, Jon Hopkins (DJ), Field Music, This is the Kit, Julia Jacklin, Fionn Regan, The Big Moon, Richard Dawson, Melt Yourself Down, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Laura Gibson, Sunflower Bean,Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band, Jessica Pratt, Karl Blau, Grumbling Fur, LVL UP, Shame, Wolf People, Big Thief, Gill Landry, Michael Chapman, Doomsquad, Deep Throat Choir, Girl Ray, Gaelynn Lea, Warhaus, The Orielles,

We’re big fans of Green Man: find out more from before

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Green Man 2016 festival in review – Saturday and Sunday

SATURDAY

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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Boomtown Fair 2016, Chapter 8: photo blog

We are still processing the thoroughly awesome, AWESOME experience that was Boomtown Fair … but while we prepare our report, feast your eyes on this!

We know there were a whole bunch of the Welsh contingent there – we ended up camped next to some boys from Newport, of course, and met a whole bunch of set designers / glitter artists / DJs and all sorts from fair Cymru.

We hope you all had a safe and enjoyable festival.

In the meantime, enjoy these visual delights … and get yourselves ready for Green Man!

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BoomTown Fair website

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Countdown to BoomTown

Not long now until the madness that is BoomTown kicks off! In celebration and anticipation, we tracked down the festival’s Head of Music – none other than Cardiff native Kaptin –  for a quick chinwag.

Describe the BoomTown vibe for people who haven’t been before.

It’s honestly like no other festival. The town is split into a number of districts and each district has its own streets and own vibe. For example, those who want to rave it up to Drum N Bass, Garage or the harder stuff like Raggatek can head into the backstreets of DSTRKT 5 where things are a little more wonderfully twisted, or our brand new Sector 6 district. For the Reggae fans, there’s either the lovely Hidden Woods or the massive Lion’s Den temple with artists such as Fat Freddy’s Drop, Madness and Damian Marley, plus then there’s many other districts from the chilled out Whistler’s Green or the plush(ish) Mayfair to the lawless Wild West or the even wilder OldTown where we have a life size pirate ship as the district’s main stage.

We have 27 main stages in total hosting everything from House to Hip-hop, Folk to Funk and Ska to Psy-Trance, but then there are tons of ‘inner city’ venues from the Job Centre to the Town Hall which are often populated by characters who will then set you different tasks or take you on a mini adventure.

It’s very theatrical and in fact there’s a whole story line that runs through the festival that you can keep an eye on. At the moment there’s a revolution happening against the corrupt Mayor, but I don’t want to give too much away as those coming will see the story unfolding around them as the weekend goes on.

boomtown

How did you get involved with BoomTown?

Well I’ve been involved in festivals for over a decade, either as a DJ or with crazy projects like the Inflatable Church so I met the BoomTown directors Lak and Chris along the way and Matt The Hat and I did some Secret Garden Parties in their old club Clockwork. Lak asked me to host their main stage the second year of BoomTown and from there I somehow became the original Town Mayor.

It was a couple of years after programming Cardiff Arts Institute and then a project in London that I started in the BoomTown office. I was originally given a couple of week’s work updating the music info on their website to help me on my feet as I’d just moved to Bristol, but then never left and in a bizarre few twists of fate ended up running the music office, then became the Head Of Music for the whole festival a few months later.

How has the festival changed through the years?

It never stays the same from year to year, but last year’s festival was certainly a turning point. The atmosphere on site was just beautiful, which is great considering how quickly the festival has grown. This year is our eighth and it’s 60,000 people, but it really feels like we’re growing in the right direction.

The team we have now is easily one of the best in the festival world and it’s surprising how much that feeds through into the whole atmosphere and experience of everything else. The festival has become infinitely more family friendly with a brilliant kids area and a lot more suitable districts to wander around, plus where the crowd used to be 90% Bristolian, now people come from over 90 different countries and the age of our citizens ranges right up to people in their 80s.

What can people expect this time that’s different?

Well if you’ve never been before then the whole experience will be different to anything you’ve had before, but even if you came last year, there are new stages such as our massive Sector 6 ‘Nuclear Power Plant’ and the Windmill Stage in our newly situated Whistler’s Green district, plus some of the other stages have evolved so we now have: the Scrap Yard to host the hardcore beats; Robotika for the classic dubstep, glitch hop and more experimental styles; and Vamos where you can find House and Techno acts such as Derrick Carter, Simian Mobile Disco, Alan Fitzpatrick and Jackmaster.

BoomTown seems to have a bit of a Cardiff link up – you’re there, the festival is full of Cardiff peeps – what’s the attraction??

Well in terms of bands and teams such as the Crazy Calamities crew, it’s been a pleasure to bring in people who I’ve been working with for years back home in Cardiff, but then in terms of the crowd, I think Cardiff people just know a really good thing when they find it and make the most out of it.

In my experience Cardiff has one of the best crowds to perform to and the BoomTown crowd are by far the liveliest and most giving I’ve ever seen, so they probably feel right at home.

BoomTown Fair website

Thanks Kaptin! Normal adult tickets are SOLD OUT but there are a couple of ticket + coach packages left. We’ll see you guys down the front!

All pics credit BoomTown

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Festival of Voice – our guide to the venues!

So, unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you will know that there’s a new, fabulous music festival heading for Cardiff, bringing oodles of WORLD RENOWNED artists and mixing them up with all sorts of awesome Welsh talent.

festival_of_voice_banner_on_wmcI’m talking about the Festival of Voice, people! The line up is wonderful:

Charlotte Church, Bryn Terfel, Meilyr Jones, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, John Grant, Ben Folds, Juliet Greco, Mariza, Laura Mvula, Ronnie Spector, Les Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Femi Kuti, Mbongwana Star, Hugh Masekela, Juliet Kelly, Sianed Jones, Jamie Woon, Flavia Coelho, Scritti Politti and Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Lera Lynn, Woman’s Hour, yMusic, Fatima, House Gospel Choir, Candi Staton, Anna Calvi, The Hot Sardines, Keaton Henson, Rustavi Voices of Georgia, Anne Carrere and Amartuvshin Enkhbat.

And if you need further proof of their excellent judgement and taste, they asked me to write the venue guide, which is very natty, if I do say so myself.

Festival of Voice: venue guide

Also, excitingly, we’ve got some tickets to give away to Festival of Voice shows! Keep your ears peeled, people (yes that’s a thing …)

 

Peas!

WAC
x

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Big Love Festival line up announced! 29 April -1 May, Baskerville Hall

YAS KWEEN, you heard right: there’s a new three dayer in town, with a massive line up and in a gorgeous location! The Big Love Festival will take place from 29 April – 1 May in Baskerville Hall. And it looks set to be a doozy.

Maybe you should just watch the video? Yeah. Do that. Then let’s talk.

Looks good, right? The line up is crazy, the location is amazing, and it’s only an hour from Cardiff! WINNING!

First wave line-up released, and here it is: Ibibio Sound Machine / RaggaTwins Crew / Ugly Duckling (Official) / SOOM T / J-Star JSTAR  / Beans on Toast / Afrikan Boy / Jodie Abacus / Matt The Hat / Mathilda & Lady Jelly / Fantazia Music / Shades Of Rhythm / Easygroove – Techno Dread – UrbanFront / Kenny Ken / Bump and Grind /  Dutty Girl  / Richie Vibe V (Old Skool Garage) / Big Swing Sound / HypeMan Sage /  RUMPSTEPPERS / Eclectic Mick / Alfresco Disco / Blue Honey / TEAK Bodywork / We Like To Party / City Bass / Gung – Ho Collective / Trax On Wax / Vintage Dub & Reggae Sound System / Clwb Ifor Bach  / BBC Horizons /  @FantasyOrchestraBristol /  StreetFeastCardiff present Dirty Bird Fried Chicken / El Salsa / Slow Pig / The Parsnipship / Handlebar Barista-Brew Bar / Patagonia Steak Shack … 

Big Love Festival Weekender

Imagine a festie-holiday at the wildest resort on the planet, where you can sleep in hotel rooms, gypsy bow-top caravans, yurts or under the stars: where you can rave till dawn in the dining room, wake up and go for a swim, have a sauna and explore the woodlands. Welcome to Big Love!

Big Love is an independent three-day festival/holiday camp set in and around a huge country mansion hotel, steeped in festival history and located in 130 acres of the lush scenery of the Wye Valley in Wales. Pretty nice, eh?

The food will be curated by Cardiff Street Food, so you know you’ll be well fed over the weekend …

Early bird tickets are already sold out … so get your groove thing on and book now!

Big Love Festival – book tickets

Big Love Festival – website

Big Love Festival Facebook

***

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HUB Festival 2015 – Cardiff’s August Bank holiday live music blow out!

If you can squeeze this in beside the Butetown Carnival also taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend, HUB Festival is once again taking over Womanby Street with a BILLION bands, loads of beers, and more boogying than you can possibly manage!

HUB2015

Here are the deets:

HUB FESTIVAL CARDIFF 2015 Facebook event
Womanby Street | Cardiff | CF10 1BR
Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August 2015

<<< 200 Acts – 12 Stages – 2 Days – 1 Wristband >>>

£10 Day-Tickets / £15 Weekend-Tickets: Buy tickets

HUB Festival returns this August Bank Holiday Weekend with a whole host of great music and performers!

===== LATEST LINE UP =====

SATURDAY 29 AUGUST

JONES COURT
Josephine and the Artizans – Tree House Fire – Kookamunga – Grand Tradition – Public Order Act

THE MOON CLUB
SPECIAL GUESTS – JaJa OK – Baby Brave – Rainbow Maniac – Love Bazaar – Tarsiers – Recluse

THE FULL MOON
Fingertrap – King Tut’s Revenge – Hipicat – The D Teez – Kinky Wizzards – Paint Happy – Milpool – Ukulele Nights

FUEL
Tides Of Sulfur – Vails – Gung Ho – Haast’s Eagled – Buff – Mind Factory – Clarity As Arson – Your Protected

FOUR BARS
Quiet Marauder – Harri Davies Band – The Gentle Good – Mike Dennis – The Migrant – Matthew Frederick – FUR – Dot’N Bang

NIGHT JAR
Mixalydia – Homes – Denim Snakes – Ofelia – Local Enemy – Willo Wonder

DEMPSEYS
A Girl Called Ruth – Owain Whatley – Dead In The Water – Grace Hartery – Lee Blackmore

CITY ARMS
Captain Accident (Solo) – Aled Rheon – Arfur Bone – Joe Kelly – Kirk Morgan

URBAN TAP HOUSE
Cotton Wolf – Nico Reuben – Will Ford – Mike Johnson & Maddy Read – Ingrid Lagounel – Fara Allibhai – Nightmares From The Discotheque – Fritz O’Skennick 0 Mark Curtis – Des Mannay – Johnny Giles – Terry Hoskins – Ceri Sian – Julie Croad – Maggie Nash – Dave Daggers – Nia David – Laz Lazarus – Martha Shitpeas – Ade Jones – Lee Prosser – Christina Thatcher – Ffion Wyn – Aisling Tempony

ONER HIP-HOP STREET STAGE
DJ Jaffa – DJ JB – Double Cee – DJ Alkemy – Turna Phrase – Sythe & Jomez – Culture Vultures – Conrad Lott – Inner City Cypher – Skunkadelic – Rob Wax – Ill Lit – Chew & Dex

SUNDAY 30 AUGUST

JONES COURT
Johhny Cage & The Voodoo Groove – Smokey Bastard – Railroad Bill – Screamin’ Miss Jackson & The Slap Yo Mama Big Band – Featherjaw – The Brwmys

THE MOON CLUB
Howl – Lacertilia – Thorun – Wight – Morass of Molasses – Attercopus – Tradish – Wall

THE FULL MOON
Junior Bill – Poor Old Dogs – Third Party – Iron Eye – Maddie Jones Band – Shop Girls – Ohhimark – Tomos Lewis – Sean O’Brien

FUEL
Hogslayer – Chaos Trigger – Ten Cent Toy – Intensive Square – Bismuth – Water – Mwstard

FOUR BARS
Jnr Hacksaw – The Lash – The Johnstown Flood – Rhodri Brooks Band – Them Deadbeats – Bella Collins – The Higher Bells

NIGHT JAR
SPECIAL GUESTS – Baby Queens – Lionface – Why We Love

DEMPSEYS
Skunk-Boy Project – Calling All Heroes – Eleri Angharad – Tobias Robertson – Jaymee Summers – Danny Saben – Kim Campbell & Sam Griffiths

CITY ARMS
Howlin’ Lord – Jack Cookson – Doozer McDooze – Brooks, McManus & Capper – Siobhan McCrudden – Josh Evans – Eady Crawford

URBAN TAPHOUSE
Sion Russell Jones – 5th Spear – Rye Milligan – Andrew Paul Regan – Zac White – Glocal Now – Luke Bennett – Jacob Nico

ONER HIP-HOP STAGE
DJ Killer Tom – DJ Brave Toaster – Joe Dirt & Ral Duke – Chubbs & Jpegg – DJ Veto – Dope Biscuits – Project – Magi – DJ Jaffa

On the street over the weekend you will also find:
Street Food Warehouse
The Busker’s Revenge
Art & Visuals from The Abacus
Lindy Hop Cardiff
Wonderbrass
Hub Radio with Big Scott

With still a load more to announce …

TIMETABLE:
HUBfestival2015timetable

 

Enjoy!

***

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Green Man 2014 – festival review

A couple of weeks ago, I packed my bags and headed to the Brecon Beacons for Green Man Festival. Having won Best Medium Sized Festival in 2010 and Best Grassroots Festival in 2012, Green Man has slowly etched itself onto the bedpost of the must-go-to UK summer festivals for its family-friendly vibe, support for up-and-coming alternative music and also general all round attention to awesome fun things you can do around the headline acts.

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This was my fourth Green Man, but every time I’ve been to the festival I’ve had a completely different experience. And I’ll give it to you straight: this one was my favourite so far. The day-time line up was great, the late-night stuff consisted entirely of acts I’d have made an effort to go and watch at gigs, the food and drink were awesome, the education and entertainment around the music were all really well thought out, and it didn’t rain! (Much).

Also as part of my festival duties this year, I was taking a load of portrait photographs of people around the festival site for a side project called We Are Green Man, so I ended up talking to a lot more random people than I normally do at festivals.

Every one of the above factors led me to having my favourite Green Man experience to date. Want to get to the meat of it? Of course you do, unless you’re a vegetarian. Don’t worry, there are also meat-free options on offer. Read on!

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I’ve also condensed my Green Man experience into a playlist, which you can listen to while you read this. Just to make you feel like you’re really there. Not all these artists played there, of course, but were snippets of things we heard going from place to place.

 

Thursday

Green Man 2014

With its modest punter count of 16,000, the Green Man site is the perfect size for a festival. Just big enough to fill a couple of big stages and fields, but small enough that you can still pop back to the tent for a nap or to grab a jumper for when it gets nippy in the evenings.

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I turned up to claim some camping space at Thursday lunchtime. We camped fairly near the West Gate entrance to minimise the trip distance to and from the car, and our initial campsite antics consisted mostly of pegging out a huge area for our people to deposit themselves in using wellies and plastic bags full of bags of crisps, putting up everyone’s tents in a mad rush trying to avoid the rain showers, and then realising we’d put up our goliath structure, a 15-man tent, inside out (“Strange – maybe you peg down the ropes inside? Oh wait….”).

I’d arrived early with my friend Leanne (Green Man was her first festival ever), and like proper nerds, we both had waterproof coats, trousers and umbrellas, so we could stand smugly watching optimistic festival goers (most of them under the age of 25) struggle past wearing only flip flops, denim shorts and vest tops (and that was just the boys, etc) under torrential downpours of rain. We were smug, but I was a bit disheartened. Festivals are a bit crap when it’s freezing, you’re sleeping outside and you can’t sit down anywhere.

The last Green Man I went to (2012), it had been raining solidly up to the festival so the ground was sodden, but the actual weekend was roasting, so you were sliding around in the mud in the mid 20 degree heat sweltering in your wellies, unable to sit down anywhere. This time, despite the rain that had been battering most of Wales in the weeks leading up to the festival, when we arrived on site it was surprisingly dry underfoot, and the rain helped our weedy hands get tent pegs in to softened ground. Bonus!

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Rainbows! Get lost, rain

As it had taken so long to get the tent set up and then to wait for our other campees to arrive from Cardiff, we ended up missing Jimi Goodwin, who was on at the insanely early time of 5pm (and was the reason a couple of people came on the Thursday … oh well!).

By the time we got in, we went wandering around and ended up in Chai Wallahs for DJ Moneyshot and his reliable blend of party-pop hip-hop, which was a nice party starter, then headed for an early bed time.

 

Friday

Friday morning we had an early start so we could join the opening ceremony for the festival. So, at 11am, we made our way to Table Top, the flat area overlooking the Mountain Stage, to join the Druids of Stonehenge. They were wearing white robes, and by god, they were proper hippies.

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Rollo, head of the druids…

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Sending peace and love

We sent love to everyone at the festival, all over the UK and then all over the world (with a special shout out to Gaza), and then sent peace to the east, then the south, then the west, and then the north. We were told about how festivals were special symbolic gatherings of humans that go back for thousands of years, and how we were just carrying on that tribal tradition there at Green Man, and at all festivals we ever attend.

I had a quick chat with the druids afterwards who told me they were marrying a couple that afternoon at the Green Man, hand-fasting them. Congratulations by the way, Jo and Dave!

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The rest of that day was spent exploring the site, enjoying a couple of the ciders from the Courtyard Bar and getting ready for that night’s festivities. I spent a couple of hours at the Green Man Rising stage, where upcoming talent is given a chance to tickle a festival audience, and we managed to catch Instructions (headed up by Spencer Segelov), who played some uptempo, brightly coloured 1970s tinged pop’n’roll.

After that we headed up the hill to the Far Out tent for Caribou with live band (along with the rest of the festival, who packed themselves in tightly for the set). It was a nice and deep electronic set, with some old and new tunes, although his need for a live band seemed  questionable when half of the electronic stuff that could easily have been played live on a keyboard was still sequenced. Still, it’s always nice to have live drumming.

After Caribou the tent cleared out a lot (the end of the set was probably curfew time for a lot of mums/dads), and there was enough space to move around again and get ready for the Two Bears and their unhinged drag dancers, who sashayed,vogued, clashed with each other, marched on and off the stage (presumably to refuel themselves) cat called at the audience, and burst into impromptu routines every so often. I couldn’t tell you much about the set to be honest, but the dancers were most entertaining.



(photo credit: Credit Dave Lawrie M&C Saatchi for Green Man)

 

Saturday

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DJs Huw Stephens and Adam Walton

 

On Saturday we caught a lot of music at the main stage, including Angel Olsen (who was a little boring for me in all honesty) and Neko Case, who I enjoyed a lot. Some of our camp broke away to go and watch I Break Horses (who I heard were amazing, so quite annoyed I missed that), while I went to the Walled Garden to nerd out to singer songwriter and comic book artist, Jeffrey Lewis and his Jrams.

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One of the many thousands of Spillers Records t-shirts spotted onsite over the weekend

The main attraction for Saturday was Mercury Rev – we got ourselves a viewing patch up on the hill around the stage towards the back for a nice view sat down. There was a lot of talk beforehand about whether playing Deserter’s Songs would make for a good headline slot, but they were great – my particular highlights having a little rumpshake to Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp and the massive expansive sound of The Dark Is Rising, that was so big that the  Mountain Stage might as well have reached out and enveloped the entire universe.

After we had all rolled around on the floor for a bit, consumed by Mercury Rev’s warm fuzziness, we started the long walk up the hill, getting waylaid by toilets and cider and food on the way, towards the Far Out tent for The Field. This show was a particular highlight for me – he was playing solo without a band, and started off on his own on the stage in the dark, playing just one singular note. Then he played another, and added more sounds, a light came up, and slowly light and music increased until there were two huge blocks filled with light bulbs behind him wheeled out and blasted on towards the end of the set for the climax.

For those who had been warmed up enough, Luke Abbott took to the stage to bang out some tasty techno. We were many ciders to the wind by now so stayed for the entire set. It was a bit ‘too techno’ for some people we were with, though you’ll never hear me complaining about anything like that, so I stayed for the whole thing and then rolled with the remaining crowd into Chai Wallahs to drink some gritty and rather revolting, bottom-of-the-pan chai.

I have no idea what happened next, other than Chai Wallahs closed and we then rolled with the remaining people to the Denture Disco, where they were playing some tasty old skool jungle. Then that finished, and unsure of what time it was, we decided we better roll home if we were going to get any sleep at all and see anything on the Sunday. Part of the rolling home did actually take place with rugby tackles down the hill by the Nature Nurture spa … shortly after which I realised my purse had dropped out of my pocket. Despite a quick, very drunken search, I couldn’t find the thing, so had to spend a confusing 20 minutes on the phone to Barclays trying to explain where I was. “It’s a festival! No, it’s not a fairground … or a car park …”. Card cancelled, I rolled into bed just before sunrise.

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Sunday

Sunday’s music was provided mostly by the Mountain Stage, mostly for the reason that we got to the Table Top, found a place to collapse, and then stayed there as half of us had passed out. There was the occasional break for food or a flat white from the Welsh Coffee place. Luckily for us lazy (or exhausted) music lovers, Sunday’s Mountain Stage line up gave us Boy and Bear (who were uptempo and a lot more rocking on stage than their records suggest) and Anna Calvi, whose huge, powerful voice filled the amphitheatre and roused many of the Mountain Stage watchers to their feet (good work for that time on a Sunday).

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A couple of the group wandered off on Sunday to explore Einstein’s Garden, and be taught some science. They wore prism glasses and learned about depth perception and how the brain adapts to that, and learned about nanos. I also briefly joined a flora identification tour, where we wandered around the site and learned the names of different trees, and we blew bubbles with some university students who taught us how surface tension worked.

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After all that learning it was back onto the cider and then up to the Mountain Stage for Simian Mobile Disco who were playing Whorl live, and bringing with them all the new technologies they’d built to make new sounds – sounds that had never been made before! I’m not sure whether I recognised any of the sounds as anything particularly new but I did enjoy their set. My favourite part of Whorl though was making friends with the guy behind us, and his two young daughters. The older one was at that age where everything Dad did was embarrassing (especially his dancing), while the younger one just wanted to run around. They asked us where we had got our faces painted – I had a box of neon face crayons in my bag. And lo! The friendship was sealed. Dad got to listen to the whole of SMD playing Whorl, while his kids (Alex and Anna) got to paint each other (and us – though dad wasn’t mad keen on any painting himself).

Other musicals highlights of the Sunday were Kurt Vile (his big guitar sound was perfect for the Far Out stage), Real Estate and, finally, the Miserable Disco in the Walled Garden (which was a little bit like someone had moved weekends at Dempseys into a field in the Brecon Beacons). The best bit of that was when they played Kate Bush and the field turned into a mass of amateur prancing ballerinas.

The symbolic ending of the festival was the Green Man burning, but we got there a little late and being a tiny human, I couldn’t see anything. I just about saw the top of his head explode, which was pretty good, but he’s too small to have really seen anything. Next time stewards, get everyone to sit down, especially if it’s dry – then everybody gets to see!)

 

In conclusion then…

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It will tell you, probably, all you need to know about the kind of people who go to Green Man when you hear that when I returned back to Cardiff after the festival, I was messaged on Facebook on Wednesday by a kindly lass who had found my wallet, seen my address on my driving license was in Cardiff, and brought the wallet back to Cardiff (where she also lived) to drop it off to me (thank you, Katy!!). I received it with all cards and cash still intact. And that is Green Man people in a nutshell.

Although this year I wasn’t camping with anyone who had brought their kids, we met up with some friends live in Crickhowell, who had brought their little boy for the first time this weekend. My friend Caz said their festival was pretty much the same – lots of frolics and silly antics, blowing bubbles, messing around – just a slightly earlier bed time.

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If you’ve never been to it before, on first glance Green Man probably seems a bit like a giant creche. There’s an entire field dedicated to children (the Kidz Field), a garden dedicated to educational science mostly to do with nature and the universe (Einstein’s Garden) and even a section that’s for teenagers only (that’s right mum, why don’t you go listen to Simian Mobile Disco, you’re so lame). There are scores of teenagers roaming around, covered in facepaint and doing circus workshops with NoFit State Circus, while younger kids stick around mum and dad and learn about nanos and wear prism glasses to see how light affects your depth perception.

In case I haven’t spelled it out enough, Green Man is a very, very child-friendly festival, which makes it a family-friendly festival, which makes for a lovely atmosphere for other festival goers. After all, whether you’re related to them or not, you turn up with a bunch of people, share food and shelter with them for a weekend, help them out and have them help you out when you need it. That’s pretty symbolic of idealistic family life, isn’t it?

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Editor’s note: food and drink at Green Man

There wasn’t really any easy way to get this into the review, so I felt like it needed its own section. Out of the nine people I came to the festival with, none of them had ever been to Green Man before. Between them, they’d done a load of other festivals, but agreed unanimously that the food and drink available at Green Man was the best.

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The only negative thing any of them had to say was about the Courtyard Bar, which sold all the amazing ales and ciders – and that was only that whatever time you turned up there, they never seemed to have enough bar staff – the queues were pretty and it took ages to get served. But it was so very worth it. I met a couple of people who said they’d challenged themselves to try and work through every cider or ale on the list (bear in mind there were over 70 of each!), but all failed – they found one they liked, then didn’t bother with any of the others.

As a group, our favourite meals came unanimously from the Grazing Shed, for their burger with gorgonzola cheese. The Grazing Shed was also where my friend Bedwyr had his festival highlight – he saw the lady in front of him in the queue was having trouble getting ketchup on her fries. He offered to help her, and then realised she was festival regular (and his long time heroine) Caitlin Moran. He got a kiss on the cheek for his troubles, and was hopping around like the happiest man in the world for the rest of the  weekend.

My only regret? I waited until Sunday night to queue up for that Goan Fish Curry everyone said was so good … only to get to the place at 10pm and find it closed. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I also have to give some festival love to the Welsh Coffee Company, who were providing the coffee at the Table Top Bar, overlooking the Mountain Stage. I had a flat white there on Thursday when we arrived at the site, and then queued up religiously every day for another. Seriously, their coffee is addictive. Also they were a really lovely bunch of people. On the Sunday night after the man burned, the Walled Garden closed and we were kicked out of Chai Wallahs (because frankly 4am on Monday morning is probably time for you to be getting back to your tents, hippies) we found them roaming around the festival site having their staff party, which we gatecrashed, and ended up sitting with them on the grass sharing my cucumber gin (which they christened a ‘courgette smoothie’. Also they have a member of staff who can say thank you in 22 different languages, which is a pretty good party trick. So thank you Welsh Coffee Company for making coffee like crack, and turning us all into addicts for life.

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I can’t wait for next year. I’m going to get one of those damned Goan fish curries, if it’s the last thing I do!

Review by Helia Phoenix

Early bird tickets for 2015 are already sold out. Boo hoo! Keep your eyes on the Green Man Tickets page for when general release tickets go on sale.

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Green Man website

Have a look at the We Are Green Man festival portraits project: website / Facebook

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the author, on a mushroom, of course …

 

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