In just under a week, a 10,000 strong crowd will descend upon the Glanusk Park Estate, at the heart of the Brecon Beacons, and plunge headfirst into the seventh annual Green Man Festival. While that means a lengthy trek for a London based ticket-holder such as myself, it’ll be more than worth the effort, with the Glanusk Park Estate a prime contender for the country’s most picturesque festival site. Having now established itself as the festival calendar’s calm before the Reading and Leeds storm, the event has a growing reputation as one of the most relaxed, communal and family-friendly festivals around.
Headlined by the runaway success story Animal Collective, britpop overlord Jarvis Cocker, and celebrated Chicago alt-rockers Wilco, the festival boasts three stages of blogger-savvy musical goodness, a comedy tent, a literature tent, a cinema tent, and the ‘Solar Stage’ – which amongst other things, has an entire time slot simply devoted to ‘Bubbles and Balloons’; not a pseudonym for a pair of late-night entertainers as you might expect from many another summer festival, but simply an ode to two childhood favourites. Needless to say, there’s plenty abound to wipe any signs of a hangover from your face – a problem that may well present itself, with Green Man the only UK festival boasting 24-hour licensed bars.
Considering the calibre of the main stage headliners, those on the ‘Far Out Stage’ prove admirable competitors. Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet looks set to stun the Friday night audience, Andrew Bird headlines the Bella Union curated Saturday night with a last chance to catch his full band show (an entirely different beast to his forthcoming solo shows later this year), while psychedelic trailblazers Amorphous Androgynous close the proceedings on the Sunday night.
While the festival inevitably offers many blogosphere heavyweights (see: Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Wilco, Animal Collective), you wouldn’t be performing yourself a disservice to look elsewhere. A rare performance from psych-rock legend Roky Erickson, British Sea Power performing a live interpretation of their soundtrack to ‘Man of Aran’ alongside the original film, and Sunday night second stage headliners Amorphous Androgynous (aka Future Sound of London) offering a marathon seven-hour late-night DJ set (a project rather comically titled Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind) are but a few of the wide range of distractions on offer as rewards for such an endeavour.
This year’s Green Man is, as ever, also a fantastic chance to accustom yourself with those musicians that may have slipped under your radar. Efterklang member and M.Ward collaborator Peter Broderick’s Saturday set is one not to be missed, while an appearance from Dent May and his Magnificent Ukulele is sure to be brighten the eyes of the most hardened festival-goer.
So with a more than impressive line-up firmly in place, all that now remains is to see whether Green Man can live up to its apparent charm and spirit. Can the surroundings of Glanusk Park really live up to my expectations? When the site has features with names like the River Usk, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the Magical Flying Pixie Wishing Fountain (okay, one of those might be made up), surely my imagination is to be let down? We’ll just have to wait and see. Fingers crossed, eh?