GREEN MAN FESTIVAL, Glanusk Park – Evening Standard, 24 August 2015

As festival attractions go, they don’t come much more impressive than a whopping great mountain. Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage looks like a piece of Toblerone next to the edifice looming over the Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons.

In its 10 years at this site, Green Man has gained a reputation as a bucolic space to release your inner hippy, for those who feel that Glastonbury can get a bit Oxford-Street-on-Christmas-Eve. You can shelter from the rain under broad oaks, paddle in a mini waterfall and write a wish on the giant wood-and-leaf Green Man, who was burned on Sunday night. A third of the 10 thousand attendees came for a whole week and went river swimming, pony trekking and foraging long before the music started.

Musically, a lack of star names suited the low-key feel. While larger festivals are stuck on a cycle of the same old big names, here Hot Chip, Super Furry Animals and St Vincent rose impressively to the challenge of being main attractions. Hot Chip ramped up energy levels with relentless dance beats and more crowd pleasers than you might think. Mercurial guitarist St Vincent was so popular that she even drew quite a crowd for a rainy surprise soundcheck on Sunday morning.

But Super Furry Animals were the biggest draw, unsurprisingly for an event with a largely Welsh audience. In white boiler suits they had humour, stunning visuals and an armload of anthems.

The main area was best suited, however, to lazy afternoon toe-tapping to whoever happened to be on. As a tiered ampitheatre, laying out a rug and staying put had obvious appeal. The rocking soul of Matthew E White and his collaborator Natalie Prass were sunny highlights.

Away from the main stage, the pagan feel was stronger. This Is The Kit mixed an ancient-sounding folk voice with hazy guitar work. Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes showed her new partnership with psych-rock band Toy, wailing without much focus in the aptly named Sexwitch. It was the best place to introduce something so strange, this lush step away from the real world that is out there in the best way possible.

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