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Green Man 2016 has happened. It was the usual onslaught of bands and enjoyment, rain and mud, with patches of sun. Rhiannon Lowe braved the weekend, joined by Eric Aydin Barberini wielding his camera. Both survived.

Kumasi Washington. Photo: Eric Aydin Barberini

It was my first Green Man for a while, 2010 to be precise, when I was last there, eee, when I were just a girl. My, how it hasn’t changed. The folk were just as nice, maybe there were more of them; the music was as plentiful, if not as much to my immediate taste; the art was as sparse, though the Walled Garden and environs as genteel; the food places were as lovely, trebled in number however, I should think; there were more bubbles, more glitter flakes; more stages (yes, I haven’t been for a few years) and some bigger, easier-on-the-ear names playing; and, awkwardly, maybe some other names who might be seen rather to have become G’man regulars. There was more rain, about the same amount of sun; less mud.

So, last Thursday arrived and with it, warm sunshine, you sneaky Brecon Beacon Black Mountain weather, you. After putting up a very fine tent in a rather foolish position, and removing the cracked eggs from the bottom of the adventurously-packed twin gallon tub of belongings - hauled over grassy rucks on the faithful sack truck - we, my friends and I, wandered off in search of good food. We hit Far Out tent early, catching a less-than-brightly-burning Flamingods (is that Flamingods or Flamingods or Flamingods?); the soft mewl and drone of Cigarettes After Sex (why do they always come up as a next-up on my YouTube?); and then King Gizzard, and that cer-azy, Lizard Wizard. There was hair here, but not enough of it; there was guitar, but not enough riffage; there was bright light, but not enough slithery magic for a wizardy lizard, sadly.

What, raining? At Green Man? Never…. Band of the Friday, for me, had to be The Membranes, who, according to a friend, had recently supported Therapy? (not too effectively though), a few weeks ago in Cardiff; but they were storming at G’man, proper full on fun as well. A mid-afternoon slot seemed rather bizarre scheduling for a chunk of gritty 80s post punk, particularly when shouldered by the forgettable and rather insipid Palace Winter and glacial sheen and beauty of Juliana Barwick.

Membranes. Photo: Eric Aydin Barberini

This reviewer ditched Kamasi Washington (more fool me say many) in favour of a run between Connan Mockasin (hmmmn), Oh Sister (oh-hum) and Throws (hnnnmmm – a higher pitch there, with raised eyebrows - fair enjoyed them, but preferred them as their previous incarnation, Tunng, though). I then plumbed for Suuns, who weren’t as sneery as their lead singer’s sideways-on stoop-up to the mic might suggest; they were however, absorbing and ear-pounding, their arches of punchy-sounding bass-heavy riff-'scapes resounding under the Primal Scream or early Clinic-esque crooning vocals. I felt White Denim were rather stonewashed, and so escaped to Rising stage, to catch the end of Ysgol Sul, who sound like a Welsh-language Teenage Fanclub singing Here Comes the Sun - and no bad thing for it, in my humble opinion.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Photo: Eric Aydin Barberini

Saturday dawned wetter, and a fair bit muddier. After a trawl round the shops, and picking up a beaut of a 10” single by Georgia Ruth - much to the jealousy of my boss - I settled in the Cinedrome, to be met by Casey and Ewan’s Crystal Massage, a visual explosion of big-screen animations, memes, gifs, morphs… This wackiness set the backdrop for the bands, first of which was Farm Hand, the new endearingly-named outfit for one of Islet’s mainstays, Mark Daman Thomas. His droney-church-organ shifts and 'scapes, together with deeply voiced singing by his silver-coated figure, made for an other-worldly experience. One of the songs had come about as a result of Noctule, his performative collaboration with partner Emma Daman T and artist Stefhan Caddick, that had taken place earlier in the week in a cave a few miles from Green Man. This had been recorded - and filmed in a manner of speaking by the BBC -  and could also be experienced through sets of headphones in a horsebox in Einstein’s Garden, care of PEAK/COPA.

A Kumasi Washington backing singer. Photo: Eric Aydin Barberini.

One of my favourite bands, Tender Prey, were up next in front of the transfixing screen. AKA Laura Bryon, TP says she is an agent of “sleaze-blues”, and I guess that fits. There were sparse whirls of guitar and bass, and sweet/sour cooing/holla-ing. There was PJ Harvey and Jane Weaver (a label-mate) in the mix; there was also Sarah Mary Chadwick of Batrider and Angel Olsen. I then ran through the sleet (rain, really) and caught the fabulous end of Khan Thorne Yorkston - that’s the order they should be in, Khan far outstripping the other two quietly battling players, his voice reeling off over the heights at the far back of the Mountain's Foot.

Edward Sharpe. Photo: Eric Aydin Barberini

Mid-afternoon at Far Out was a treat, with Beak˃’s self-effacing Can-ny krautrock. I enjoyed their engrossed concentration and banter as much as their whipped-up Bedhead-like act. I then dared the rain to come again (and it did) while The Unthanks apparently clip-clopped along to their usual heavenly brand of sisterly harmony-perfect folk; I will always shed small tears when they sing The Magpie mind. Cate Le Bon was up next and was a fabulous delight in the chill of the swirling rain. CLB is a perfect fit of sixties glacial pop song and teensies sharp-shaped guitar’n’bass.

The end of my Saturday at the main stage came earlier than expected after a drive-by on Tindersticks, who from a great distance appeared to be playing their twinkly mournfulness extremely well, as you’d perhaps expect. Instead I joined up with the others and fled to Chai Wallahs, which was serving up a massive slice of funk fusion with Guts and dub reggae with They Say Jump. Good. Night!

It was then back to work for me, Sunday’s temptations sadly out of temptation’s way. Our photographer Eric, the stalwart, stayed on to get some decent shots, however. Some of his supersnaps of the weekend accompany these words.

 

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