Green Man Festival 2018 review

Kristian Birch-Hurst spent the weekend at the untainted haven of arts, music & community set against a stunning Welsh backdrop.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 24th Aug 2018

Image: Green Man Festival (source)

Now in its 16th year, there is nowhere else quite like Green Man. Nestled at the foot of Brecon’s mist swept Black Mountains, the site beckons an immovable sense of history, awe, and artistic spontaneity. Crumbling 19th century ruins, towering oaks and a penchant for the vibrant further succeed in crafting a uniquely immersive festival aesthetic. Over 20,000 revellers embraced the magic at another sell-out edition. 

Across the weekend attendees were treated to a plethora of musical choice - from deeply anecdotal folk to intelligent showcases of electronic dance - all spread across an immensely beautiful landscape. Those fortunate enough to make the Thursday kick-off are treated to a spectacular opening performance from Public Service Broadcasting. On a mission to ‘inform, educate, and entertain’, their use of archival samples and sonic melancholy - much from Welsh mining era concept album Every Valley - carries an intense potency.

Not reliant on “star-studded” line ups, this year’s headliners were a testament to foresight and personal loyalty (all three having previously played the festival in some capacity). Sunday’s The War on Drugs subtly confess their love of the Welsh festival between slick helpings of bulletproof Americana, tracks unrelentingly extended beyond the bounds of their studio recordings. Psych-garage rockers King Gizzard shake any doubt of their top billing capabilities with a joyful Friday set imbued with electrifying riffs and impossible energy, ‘People Vultures’ turning the Mountain Stage into a limb flailing arena. However, Fleet Foxes emerge as festival favourites, claiming the biggest crowd of weekend. 

Captivating performances of course go beyond the main stage. In everyone’s favourite quadrangle, the Walled Garden, Snail Mail entrance the masses of the midday sun with ethereal vocals and chiming lo-fi guitar flourishes. Welsh bandmates Boy Azooga incite rapturous applause at the Far Out with playful yet unexpected covers, like that of Tom Petty’s ‘Running Down a Dream’. And Groovelator ignites the Chai Wallah with a funky fondue of organ flare, virtuosic guitar and drum fills.

By daylight in the nooks and crannies of the Glanusk park, family friendly (and not so) comedy, science lectures, and interactive performance art stands as a break from the music… but the evening too is full of wonders. Diplomats of Sound keep things moving till 4am every evening for those adverse to sleep. Also part of this creed, future-garage/post-dubsteppers Mount Kimbie produce an anthemic set featuring a number of hits from their immortalised Crooks & Lovers 2010 album. 

While Saturday proved huge for Fleet Foxes, those who edged their way to the Far Out corner were treated to a rare paired spectacle; like that of an epic film score, Simian Mobile Disco orchestrated a twisting masterpiece aided by the deft scales of the Deep Throat Choir, a brooding, tense and sonically inspiring experience. The shared sense of unity matched only by the festival’s final centrepiece, the ritualistic burning of the Green Man effigy. A hallowed and climactic finale characterising a festival founded within an esoteric blaze of folklore, aesthetic beauty and unabashed creativity. 


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