You Are My Loving Cassette: Green Man Festival 2016, Brecon Beacons

Snuggled in a tent covered in water droplets and cold air – a struggle that was to be dealt with during a weekend filled with musical endearment.

Green Man, a festival located in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, was hardly anything you would expect, (and that’s coming from an LA music scene enthusiast). For me, the festival was kicked off by a wonderfully crafted set by Cigarettes After Sex, who play depressing tunes you can’t help singing to. A few songs and a melancholic sing-a-long to “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby,” later there was ample room for snacking. The Churro Bros were in close proximity, and you can almost taste the warmness waiting to be felt. The culinary delights of Green Man were everywhere to be seen: vegetarian Indian food, pizzas, burritos, etc. Everything was there to satisfy even the fussiest of palettes. The churros were an appropriate pre-snack to a screening of ‘Metropolis’ at the Cinedrome – which was accompanied by a live performance by composer pianist Dymytro Morykit’s – making the film an interesting treat. Thursday night ended on a good note. Wild Beasts performed a few songs off their new album ‘Boy King’, an interesting dynamic compared to their previous albums. When the beat to “A Simple Beautiful Truth’ came up, I entered absolute bliss.

The following morning was welcomed with a nori wrap from Happy Maki (completely vegan!) Their sweet potatoes are wonderfully made, too. A short immersion in Einstein’s Garden and a bit of ‘Star Seekers’ later. I arrived at the conclusion that Green Man is a glorious place for children! The festival is filled with all sorts of educational and fun activities for children (there was improv, singing, acting, inclusive classes, etc.) Anything from ‘OK2’, ‘Wildlife Walks’, and conversations with Jack Heal. There’s something for everyone!  Mothers played later that afternoon, an American band from Athens, Georgia. Lead-vocalist Kristine Leschper put on a stellar performance, singing songs from their album ‘When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired.’ Connan Mockasin was definitely another highlight; the eclectic front-man sang a couple of my favorites including ‘Faking Jazz Together’ and a long overdue rendition of ‘Forever Dolphin Love.’ There is quite nothing like Mockasin. Magic on stage is an understatement (something which Mother Nature noticed. The sun came out and was kind enough to gift us with a rainbow as Mockasin played, so it seems she’s a fan, too.) Let us not forget about James Blake. Every song performed from ‘The Colour In Anything’ and a few previous tracks were extraordinary executed. James Blake manages to enthrall the audience by strategically placing himself on stage, and even altering the lights in order to harbour a feeling you can’t put your finger on. His positional awareness is a marvel and is something his fans definitely need to experience; the quiet boy from London has matured into quite the showman. A part of me was hoping a special guest would manifest during the performance (where were you Bon Iver? Frank Ocean?) only in dreams, right?

Saturday consisted of falafel, a band named Formation and a quick listen to Beak> (who had a line-up that included ex-Portishead drummer Geoff Barrow). Highlights from this day included Tindersticks, an alternative rock band that has been around since the 90’s, dark and reminiscent of molt liquor and a bar-like atmosphere. Needless to say, they are sad to the bone, but endearing at the same time. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performed later, which was undoubtedly the most enjoyable performance of the night! Alexander Ebert personified the feeling of happy with ease. It showed predominantly in his ability to allow the crowd to participate and fill in lyrics for him.

Sunday I witnessed Whitney sing ‘Golden Days’ and ‘No Women’ with an irresistible charm.  Half of ex-Smith Western’s, Julien Ehrlich directed his attention to a small boy in the crowd sporting a Black Sabbath t-shirt, noting that he would certainly grow up to be a “super awesome kid.” His stage banter was appreciated by a receptive (albeit inebriated) crowd. Whitney served as an ample appetiser for the next band on the billing: Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Front-man, Ruban Nielson could be seen climbing the staging, in an attempt to excite the packed out, crowd. It was perhaps a response, or act of appreciation, to how many people showed up to watch UMO; it is unusual for a crowd of that size to gather for a band so far down the stage-time billing. During Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s set, I lost my ring while singing to ‘Multi Love,’ worth it? Yes. Luckily for me, Green Man’s festival goers are as amiable as one would imagine. A young gentleman offered his help as did several other people. After searching for nearly 5 minutes, I caught a glimpse of my ring disheveled in the ground, and everyone that was helping was stunned I could find it in such a dim light! After enjoying a show, I needed a small snack and chips with ketchup were on my radar. I picked up a few from a ‘fish and chips’ stall and ate them whilst listening to Warpaint. Belle and Sebastian were the closing act. The amount of swaying in the crowd was astounding. There was hardly anyone in the crowd that wasn’t moving about. I was stunned.

The Green man was burned shortly after Belle and Sebastian. While the bonfire and fireworks ignited the night sky, I realised that Green Man was nothing like any other festival I have previously attended. The feeling of being part of something, the nature, the variation in the line-up and complete originality truly sets it apart from the likes of FYF, Beach Goth, and even Coachella. Yes, the festival lacks what many of these festivals offer in size, but it makes up for it in charm. It is an experience that will stay with me for a long time, and this is what sets Green Man apart from the rest. Green Man isn’t just a music festival, it is an array of experiences nestled close together to create a world you’ll never forget. 

Words by Mary Ocana