Taking a turn around the fields surrounding the main event area at Green Man 2017 purveys a different sense than we’re used to at other UK festivals. It's not the mixed age and demographic audience with their accompanied children of all ages that is common at all festivals these days, more the sense of politeness and respect that they bring. Whereas some of the other mid to large festivals are a nihilistic weekend traipse into the countryside for many, Green Man feels more like a long-since leftover commune still existing in the Black Welsh Mountains.
The Rising Stage sits under trees by a river where long-haired children play. Catching a drift of beautifully apt sounds from Omaloma, a mixed Welsh and English language psychedelic project, begins our hazy introduction to what’s in store for the weekend.
A quick hop over to the bustling Babbling Tongues tent brings into focus the brilliant mind of modern cult author and screenwriter Irvine Welsh that proves an insightful experience into this truly contemporary wordsmith.
Parting clouds above Green Man 2017 bring rare hues of Welsh sunshine that casts glints on the glittered beards and smiling faces of the audience. More dulcet tones wash out from the elegantly situated Mountain Stage with it’s backdrop of forested mountains, as Happyness deliver their set.
In contrast, the dark confines of the Far Out stage and Japanese psych-rock band Kikagaku Moya, who are strangely comforting after so much harmoniousness. Bringing a heavy dirge sound, their style pertains more to a underbelly of garage rock than the hints of psych washed across their set.
Keeping with a sense of genuineness that is increasingly common in new bands comes The Big Moon, an all-female indie quartet from London. Fresh from a 3-week US tour the band are all smiles and enthusiasm when referencing the size of the Green Man 2017 audience, the large stage and the accompanying big screens. Their honesty, both in their interplay with the audience and their energetic guitar songs is fresh and open, and draws the crowd in. Plus a sense of refined stage craft that a year or two on the road brings, and it’s not hard to see why they garner so many plaudits.
D.D Dumbo is the project name of Oliver Perry, a multi-talented and clearly complex Australian songwriter currently making his home on 4AD. DDD are the type of band that you hope to discover by accident at a place such as this. Combining multiple percussion, horns and wind instruments, what shouldn’t work, does. Oliver and his band weave a magical yet abstract sound that brings shades of Love and Tinariwen.
Hinds are doing something right. A packed to the rafters Far Out stage witnesses the energetic guitar-pop set from the Madrid-based female band. The band are well rehearsed and tight despite being off the touring circuit whilst they work on their second album due out later this year. Chemistry between the four shows a group who are having fun making the most of the buzz they’ve created and easily charm the audience with interplays between their charged and hooky songs.
After a delayed start to the set whilst the sound is refined, Angel Olsen takes the Far Out stage with the presence of a headliner. This is an individual artist brimming with confidence that a highly praised recent album, the latest in a line of increasingly engaging offerings, brings. From simplistic beginnings, Olsen has spent the last 8 years developing both her sound and live credentials, which is culminating before our eyes, and will no doubt be watched keenly by festival organisers for their headline slots in 2018. Backed by a besuited and superb band, Olsen delivers her rising crescendo of tuneful and eclectic songs, interrupted only for more sound fine-tuning and somewhat Trump-esque monologues to the eager crowd.
The anticipation surrounding Friday night Green Man 2017 headliners Future Islands is palpable. The audience, fixed with part fascination, part adulation, are prepared for the unexpected, to which Samuel T. Herring and the boys don’t disappoint. An impressive backdrop and light show set the tone for a sound and energy that steps up to take the headline slot with their usual other-worldly swagger. Oozing confidence the band combine rich soul and breezy electronic into a sound that is larger than its parts. As a frontman, Herring swings from deeply charismatic to abstractly challenging, yet his confidence in the songs, the band and their individual style abides. Their rhythm grooves get us all dancing along, and songs like Seasons (Waiting on You) have sufficient pop hooks to rise a chorus from the crowd. Truly they are a band in their ascendence and as ever, it’ll be fascinating to see where they end up.