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Review: Green Man 2012 – Sunday

Beki Kidwell

Triangle

After a quiet and reasonably dry night, where I finally got to sleep for more than a couple of hours, people started to stir – and of course, the rain promptly started to pour. Instead of complaining and waiting around for it to stop, we shoved on our wellies (which were now sufficiently caked in mud and becoming substantially heavier to walk in) and headed for the ‘Soup-A-Juice’ stand for a cup of tea.

Once again, people were quickly drenched and as Seamus Fogarty played his last notes of sound-check it was obvious that the bands weren’t too pleased with the conditions either. Sadly enough for the Irish singer-songwriter, everyone ran for shelter – which meant running considerably far from the stage. While a dozen people stood at the front singing along and cheering after every song, everyone else seemed to sit around feeling sorry for him, but nonetheless, happy that they were dry.

Thankfully, 3:30 came around and the wonderful Alt-J emerged onto the Far Out stage to a huge daytime crowd and a roaring round of applause. Even singer and guitarist Joe Newman alongside keyboard-extraordinaire Gus Unger-Hamilton seemed shocked at the elated whooping coming from the tent. A Leeds University-born band whose main focus became to develop a precise brand of alt-pop music with a folk twist, Alt-J’s sound is truly unique. Debut album An Awesome Wave, released May 2012, was an instant hit – with the guys even becoming favourites to win 2012’s Mercury music prize. Singles Breezeblocks, Matilda and Fitzpleasure played as a threesome, one after the other, much to the pleasure of the audience who sang along while forming the bands signature delta sign above their heads. The heavy bass drop in Fitzpleasure sent the audience into bopping mode, as the sun began to shine outside and the mud vibrated in time to the rhythm beneath our feet. Throughout the set, Newman’s voice remained composed and unblemished by the pressure to perform a faultless live show and, particularly noticed while singing popular track Matilda, it’s clear that his talent is distinctive to the band’s one-off sound.

As 9pm rolls around, we decide to take a wander into Green Man’s cinema tent – and lucky we do – because as we arrive, the tent is becoming packed with people waiting for the theatrical Midnight Nosferatu (live) to begin. There’s what seems to be a tiny, 5 man orchestra on stage beneath a large overhead screen which swiftly kicks into life with the opening scenes of F. W. Murnau’s 1922 German Expressionist horror film, Nosferatu. The lights in the tent are out and the only thing heard is the rattling laughter of those in the comedy tent next-door – which becomes somewhat inappropriate as the terrifying Max Schreck as vampire (one of TV’s first) Count Orlock takes to the screen. The mini-orchestra are simply mesmerising. Formed in 2006 exclusively to compose accompaniment soundtrack to silent films, the band are called Minima and they even offer master classes in what they do. They’ve been classed as ‘inventive’ and are known for their ‘sinister’ sound. It’s obvious that they’ve studied the timing of the film dozens, if not hundreds of times before, as every crash, bang or whollop gets accompanied by a seamless string of notes. It’s eerie and funnily enough, slightly bloodcurdling while played alongside the film.

It’s as the two headline acts of the night, Feist at the Mountain Stage and Of Montreal at the Far Out tent, are set to begin that myself and my partner decide to separate in order to catch both – him to Feist, and me to Of Montreal. Stopping first at the bar for a quick drink, I stumble (literally) through the mud to the Far Out tent. The place isn’t full by any means, but the crowd inside are blatant Of Montreal fans. Some are flamboyant and full of loving gestures, while others flaunt around in sparkly face make up donning feather bowers. As a huge fan of the band, I seem to look quite normal compared to everyone else, yet as they took to the stage I became as free-spirited and overjoyed as the rest of the crowd.

Influenced by Prince and David Bowie, Of Montreal’s sound has developed since they formed in 1996 from psychedelic pop music into a glam-rock, funk-inspired, electronica masterpiece. Lead singer Kevin Barnes is known to get naked on stage and he of course follows suit in order to seduce the Green Man audience with the removal of his shirt around 10 minutes into the set – only to then run backstage and soon re-appear in tight, silver, hot-pants. Popular track Gronlandic Edit and single Spiteful Intervention from latest album Paralytic Stalks are by far the biggest crowd pleasers, with the multi-coloured light show leaving every person in listening distance with a flickering-light in the corner of their eye for hours after the show ends.

As every Green Man finale over the last 10 years, a spectacular firework display, bonfire and more importantly, the burning of the giant Green Man carving got underway after both headline acts completed their sets. Plenty of sarcastic oo’s and ahh’s could be heard throughout the crowd, quickly becoming the inside joke of the event and catching on rapidly with the whole 9,000 or-so people that showed up. A few Wicca-man phrases such as “not the bees!” and “killing me won’t bring back your goddamn honey!” could clearly be heard (admittedly, some were from me), yet past the humour was a faultless and somehow magical ending to the weekend. As the Green Man burnt to the ground in a somewhat terrifying fashion, people huddled together drinking and pondering what their favourite parts of the last four days were. Beside the torrential rain, overbearing mud-slides and quite disgusting toilets – It’s safe to say that I will undoubtedly be going again next year.