The Green Man Festival 2011: Brecon Beacons, Wales

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Green Man proves once again it can provide a quality billing while escaping the trappings of many contemporary music festivals. Getintothis’ Emilia Bona soaks up the charms emanating from the Glanusk Estate.


It’s a far cry from Leeds and Reading, where scallywags gladly take a shit in your wellies to let off steam post-GCSE results day.
Instead, Green Man, now in it’s eighth year, feels more like a well kept secret.
Nestled in the impressive grounds of Glanusk Estate, the festival’s picturesque setting is just one aspect of this charming weekend of folk and alternative music.
It’s refreshing to come across a festival that has held firmly on to it’s values of presenting the best in new music, in a warm and relaxed setting, without having given in to commercial pressures.
The laid back vibe extends to every aspect – only at Green Man could you see a single bearded man sitting in a converted ice-cream van selling elderflower beverages to a queue that extends around the Pub Stage while his wife and children frolick nearby.
The decision to return to Green Man again this year was confirmed when Iron & Wine was announced as Sunday’s headliner – and he didn’t disappoint.
Sam Beam and his band treated the crowds to an incredible and energetic set, apologizing in his solo encore that there ‘just ain’t enough time’ to play all the songs his audience were asking for.

Friday is dedicated to catching new bands; Bellowhead show why BBC Introducing have them marked as their ‘folk band of 2011’, Benjamin Francis Leftwich played an enchanting set at the Pub Stage, as the entire audience sit hunched around as Atlas Hands proves an undoubted high point of the weekend.
There were, however, low points. The Far Out Stage saw a disappointing run of headline acts with both Holy Fuck and Sic Alps playing mediocre sets to a restless and increasingly unsatisfied crowd.
With neither band having impressed it was a relief to be met with such a fresh and dynamic set from DJing duo The 2 Bears, who ushered the crowds through the stage’s transformation into Far Out After Dark. The set was so energetic in fact, that the heavy men in day-glo vests had to spend around 50% of it removing encourageable stage invaders off and back into the crowds.

As the Far Out Stage began to wind down, most Greenman revellers found themselves heading along to Chai Wallahs, where skanking doesn’t stop until the sun comes out. DJ Parker played a phenomenal set to a rapturous audience who put their Hunters to good use by dancing until the early hours.
Earlier, in one of the more laid back sets of Friday evening, Island Records‘ new boy Ben Howard kept the crowds at the Pub Stage happy and humming along as he played a fantastic version of his single The Wolves.
Wild Nothing will have undoubtedly gained a number of new fans after their thrilling set on Saturday afternoon while the experimental jazz of Polar Bear succeeded in getting a potentially indifferent afternoon crowd of passersby moving.
At the main stage Dry the River and Brooklyn blues band, She Keeps Bees kept the good times ticking before Destroyer‘s off kilter bizarro amused and delighted the crowd in equal measure. There was no better way to end the evening than back in Chai Wallahs where DJ JFB kept spirits high late into the night.

Other highlights include Fleet Foxes‘ Saturday night set and Laura Marling‘s charming Sunday afternoon session.
Additionally, for those who didn’t come to enjoy the music of established artists, festival goers are more than welcome to bring their own acoustic guitar and mediocre vocals along to a camp fire in the early hours while attempting to sing The Kooks‘ greatest hits.
As Sunday arrived far too quickly, those who opted to see Gruff Rhys close the Far Out Stagewere not disappointed. The Super Furry Animal‘s frontman played an outstanding set, surpassing his own performance at the festival last year, providing the Far Out Stage with an exceptional final act after a weekend of brilliance.

Greenman‘s quaint nature and chilled atmosphere has undoubtedly secured it as the best weekend of my year, and having spent an enchanting weekend at Glanusk Estate, life back at home feels worryingly sterile.
Getintothis Green Man Festival 2010 review.
The Green Man Festival.

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