Green Man Festival 2016 - Brecon Beacons, Wales

As you wander the site of Green Man Festival it’s easy to see the wide variety of music, people, and things, that draw the crowds every year. Despite the weather the feeling amongst the sold out punters was overwhelmingly positive. There are parents with their kids, teenagers without their parent, middle age couples, boomers, it’s as diverse a demographic as you can probably get in terms of age.

And the music is only part of that attraction. Amongst the chairs, blankets, and pushchairs of the Mountain Stage there are terrific performances from Meilyr Jones, Jason Isbell, White Denim, and finally James Blake. And that’s just the Friday. Blake shows the individuality of the festival; he’s a uniquely standout performer among this seasons headline acts, having not change his staging from when he broke out playing tiny venues in 2012.
Taking a stroll through the site you pass a mini fairground with giant slide and ferris wheel, there’s the Green Man himself, a crafted bonfire with a face and flags of people’s wishes. There’s the Cinedrome playing Jungle Book, Starman, Purple Rain, and a bunch of other movies. There’s Chai Wallah, the busiest space of the weekend with acts like The Gin Bowlers, and Will Varley whipping the crowd into a frenzy. It’s seriously rammed, especially as the sun goes down.

If you get fed up of that visit one of the onsite bars, or just go for it at the festival’s own beer and cider festival. Special mentions to Conwy Brewery and their Best Bitter, the Untapped Brewing Co. and Monnow, and Brecon Brewing. The selection is huge, and the ciders available almost match.

Then there’s the food, the lovely Green Man food. From the freshly cooked pad thai of Manna to the morning perk of Brodie’s Coffee Camper, via the simple deliciousness of Anna Mae’s Mac and Cheese and the local delights of Dragon’s Deli. Vegetarians are well served too, as are burger lovers. There really is food for everyone.
But back to the music, Charlotte Church and her pop dungeon were a late night guilty pleasure on the Friday, with the former opera singer belting out popular hits from across the decades, including, from leftfield, David Bowie’s ‘Girl Loves Me’, and more expected a straight take on Basement Jaxx ‘Romeo’. Saturday started with an emotional Clare Maguire silencing the crowd on the main stage, and had a terrific run in the Walled Garden, including a rocking Emma Pollock and amusing BC Camplight. Beak> and Jagwar Ma make noise and new friends in the Far Out Tent while Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes win the Mountain Stage with a totally inclusive set, though frontman (and defacto band leader) Alex Ebert doesn't look in the best of moods with his gigantic supporting cast of musicians.

The diverse set of sounds continues on Sunday as Margaret Glaspy garage rocks the Mountain Stage before Julia Holter struggles to convey the beauty and intimacy of her songs amongst the babies and burger chewing, later in the day. More successful are Whitney, who light up the Walled Garden with their easygoing banter, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra who are the perfect pick me up on the Sunday night.

And so ends another wonderful year strolling around in the shadow of the Brecon Beacons, listening to the widest variety of musical sounds, gorging on, and imbibing, great sustenance. Now might be the only time Chai Wallahs isn't packed to bursting. See you next year.

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