Green Man 2013 (Festival Review Day 2)
On Saturday morning it was a three-tea-walk to find the press tent, but I did therefore manage to see almost every other corner of the festival and orient myself, the better to explore the music on offer. I made my ritual morning stop at Pootopia which, if you know it you’ll agree, is always worth a mention. But with my journalistic hat on, I actually moved beyond the scat puns (eg. Changing the World from the Bottom Up) and asked them about their trade. And what I learned amazed me. It turns out that their amazing, clean, peaceful and humourous compost loos at festivals are but one feather in their fabulous crap-cap, since they deliver their water-free toilets to disaster zones such as Haiti, providing sanitation solutions where they are most needed, not just for us music lovers. So hats and trousers off to them, may trumpets parp in salute to their good work. They’re shit hot, and you can learn more on their amusing websites.
Much of the afternoon was spent delightfully mooching around the festival, eating delicious food and sampling the delights of the ale, cider and perry tent. The queue here was not that large, but very slow, because the bar staff did what one does at a beer festival, and allow punters to sample every pint before they buy it. Not only that, but there were at least 30 casks on at any one time, covering over 90 different brews, and since they kept on changing as the casks emptied, the staff spent considerable amounts of time wandering around looking for number 91 or 35 or 77 or ‘something like any one of those please’. Needless to say, there was a huge variety, which included some beauties and some stinkers, but one man’s honey is another’s marmite, so there’s no point debating which was the best. The festival standard served at every other bar, Green Man Growler, is a reliable and clean session bitter that one can drink all day; which is just as well, since that’s what we did! And it was no surprise to find that this is the sort of festival where one may be made to growl for a pint of ale!
After a long, calm and refreshing afternoon, it wasn’t until 8pm that I found some music that really got things moving again.
Solo Banton is well established in the jungle/ragga scene, and he didn’t disappoint the crowds who gathered to listen and dance along to the booty-shaking basslines and his smooth lyrical flows. He also performed some stunning rap poetry that seemed almost entirely improvised, and the magic of which cannot be communicated by his pre-recorded music online.
After Solo finished, I was brought to the Mountain Stage to see the Horrors, although I had been quite keen to catch Dr. Syntax with the Mouseoutfit. I remember Syntax – with his clean, clear, Jurassic5-esque lyrical style – from some of the first, performances of The Foreign Beggars, who have become such benchmarks on the hip hop scene that they’ve teamed up with dubstep heavyweights like Skrillex and Noisia to make some seriously heavy beats.
I never figured they’d be superstars when I saw them at a freshers’ gig many years ago, so I suppose I’ve been there, seen that, but only ever heard of the Horrors, who drew a big crowd at the main stage, as night set in.
I wasn’t expecting the Horrors to be so cheery, or cheery at all that is, but I was quite impressed by the easygoing chillout indie-rock that emanated over the gathered masses, as things kicked off.
And then it got thrashy! So I left… and that’s all I have to say about that.
I’ve learned from a few seasons of Boomtown that Babyhead are a group not to be missed if you want a knees-up.
And they didn’t disappoint, bringing Chaiwallahs to its feet, stomping and shouting their approval. They’ve got a grittier, more hip-hop feel to them than just-your-average-ska-band, but it’s not so thrashy as to be ska-punk. They’d probably be able to rock out pretty hard with Syntax, come to think of it. They’ve got a wide range across the genre: you can hear their fun loving, sunshine ska vibe in songs like Until We’re Heard,
and the more concrete-jungle, English late 70’s ska nod in Better Than This,
and a really contemporary lyrical, almost grimey vibe in The Programme.
Smash that all together on stage and you’ve got a bit of something for a bit of almost anyone with an ear for twostep sounds, and a whole bunch of attitude thrown in to whip any crowd into a lather.
I know, it’s clear by now that I basically love ska, reggae, dub, dubstep and dance music (with the exception of garage and house), and I’ve got precious little to tell you about anything else musically. Well, I reckon I’m in good company, and you can’t be in two places at once!
This brings me to another festival hero of mine, Coda, whom I saw wrap up at Boomtown, and I was transported back there this evening. If you like the trombone, or even any kind of brass, and if you ever wondered what it would sound like turned up to 11, wonder no longer. These guys have the trombone under their thumb! Prodigy fans anyone? Try Firestarter on for size:
But it’s their Initial Assault that rings on in my head even now, the trombone echoing over the crowd, stretched and dubbed to full effect, a hypnotic rhythm that comes back to haunt the room, given extra weight by some excellent light effects. Highly recommended!
After their stunning finale, the crowds dispersed, I to the Rum Shack for a jug of something rummy, and slowly wound my way back for Chaiwallahs 10th Birthday set. One way or another, I found my way back stage (I can’t say it was thanks to my TNLF credentials), and got to see things kick off from the djs-eye-view.