The Green Man Festival 2005: Baskerville Hall, Hay-on-Wye, Wales, UK

19– 21 August 2005

Alextronic writes:

Travelled down to Hay-on-Wye in beautiful Wales for the Green Man Festival, with Helena, Jer and Sinead. Made sure we made camp nowhere near either the Fence Collective or anyone holding any type of stringed instrument. Met up with a whole bunch of Bellshill folks and a whole host of Glaswegians many of whom I worked with at Missing records and had not seen for a year or so. Ended up drinking far too much wine/cava/vodka with the Lucky Luke peeps, talking a whole lot of crap (price of houses in paisley*sheesh) whilst ignoring the Incredible String Band on the main stage. Fool. Late to bed.

Hung-over to hell. Took quite a while to shake this one off. Thankfully was not sick in front of the whole campsite. A trip into Hay-on-Wye to use the nice clean toilets sorted all this out though, and we were ready to soak up some glorious sunshine and catch some folk. Scatter was acid queen folk of the 'heed nip' variety. Bit too full on for me. Next up, Aberfeldy who really under whelmed or perhaps it was just that my hang over was still in effect. Its Jo and Danny came on, so its time for some lovely organic lamb burgers and a wander round Baskerville Hall and the rest of the festival site. Malcolm Middleton was fantastic, vibrant pop songs with self disparaging lyrics which slowly got the crowd on their feet and dancing. Over to the tiny Folkey dolkey stage to catch James Rutledge do his Pedro thing. He is the only electronic act all weekend and I've seen him before so I knew it would be good. Speaking to him earlier he had said his set would be a wee bit different. Bugger me what an understatement! Armed with two laptops and a hunk of old synthesiser he proceeded to chop up fat beats, distorted horns, Eric B n Rakim samples, and skronky, glitchy noise from the off. The crowd loved it. Halfway through a drummer comes on and they proceed to jam together for the last 15 mins of his set. They both go off to rapturous applause.

It could have ended there and I would have been happy. Except that Will Oldham has still to play on the main stage. Against a beautiful backdrop of hills, moonlight high in the night sky and the crisp night air he came on and played a spellbinding set. I'm not a Will Oldham devotee or anything and this was the first time I've seen him, but he really had the crowd with him. Yes it dipped in parts, a bit too 70's Young-esque dirge for me, the sound was a bit muddy and cut out twice, but when he played ' I see a darkness' and 'I gave you' I was blown away completely. Then back to camp to dance to some disco and hip hop. (Man cannot live on guitar music alone!)

Another glorious day. No hangover. Breakfast of toast & sausages with Lucky Luke and friends. Toilets run to Hay-On-Wye (we are not hardened festival goers as you can probably tell) A wonderfully random thing happened to me. At Green Man 2004, I met up with a girl called Debbie who I knew vaguely. She hung around with my mate's big brother who used to put on raves in Lanarkshire in the early 90's. She told me there was a video of the Freedom rave in 1991. I wanted a copy so we swapped email addresses, which we both promptly lost. Anyhow, as I got onto site this year she came up and said hello, and told me she had brought a copy of the Freedom video with her, on the off chance I was going to be at the festival! How bloody fantastic is that? Anyway, back to the main stage. This is the third time I've seen Lucky Luke and it was the worst. Not that they were bad, it's just they didn't play any of their strongest songs. Instead they opted to play too many prog folk jams. The Memory band on next was worse. Their new material wouldn't have been out of place on a Peter Gabriel album: all earnest ballads with no oomph. King Creosote and the Fence Collective shone as per usual.

Then it was off to catch Tunng at the folkey dokey. The size of the stage let them down, as it was jam packed. I couldn't see them which rarely happens to me as I'm no midget at 6ft but I was standing behind the tallest man in the world . I was annoyed that I had to leave half way through an amazing set, but couldn't cope any longer with the crush and heat. Caught the last track by the Earlies and waited for Joanna Newsom to appear. Again, the setting was picturesque and the anticipation was palpable. She strode on to cheers and belted out an accapella miniature sans mike. It was like we had been called to some primal village meeting. She then launched straight into a brand new track: a 15 minute psychedelic stream of consciousness. The rest of the set was mesmerising, as she ran through a few more new tracks and the best of her last album. I went back to the tent and slept soundly with a great big grin on my face.