We’ve had a series of weekends in and around Oxford through the end of June and July (minus Rome and my friend Helena’s visit), but in August our plans kicked up again into high gear. This past weekend, I went for the third time to Green Man music festival. (Here are 2011and 2012 . I sat out 2013 because I wasn’t that blown away by the line-up.)
The festival is held in Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons, Wales and always closes their capacity at 10,000 (even if a few more could be muscled in), so all the years I’ve been, it has sold out. The festival generally draws mid-sized folk acts, electronica and alt country with a few more commercial (though still folk) headliners.
Though I’ve been to larger festivals (like Lollapolooza), Green Man is by far my favorite. Although this year I went with a smaller group, the line-up was too good to miss.
For better legibility, this is the ‘clashfinder’ to figure out where we would be & when: green are first choices and blues are fall-backs or in betweeners. A preview of my pre-festival prep.
I saw the final line-up and within 24 hours, had bought Jack and I tickets. It wasn’t going to be very feasible for us to get to South Wales on our own (it looked like you’d have to change two to three times on the train plus take a shuttle for an hour from the closest station… all this while carrying tents, camping chairs, sleeping bags, blow-up bed, pillows, camping gear, etc) and Jack wasn’t very interested in renting a car again. I put it out there to see if anyone we knew was already going and a group ended up coming together; thankfully our friend Mike was up for it and travelling from Oxford.
Although I didn’t get a picture, one of my favorite artists at Green Man this year was Angel Olsen. She’s like a female Roy Orbison – I really can’t get enough. Here’s a video of her performing ‘Some Things Cosmic’ at the Pitchfork Festival.
Frank Fairfield! Such a lovely charmer. He plays super old timey banjo, guitar and fiddle and as wonderful as his music is, he’s possibly even greater. I looked forward to his little asides between songs almost as much as the songs themselves. One of the very best sets of the year. Here’s a treat for you.
The huge throwback headliner (well, aside from Slint) was Neutral Milk Hotel. Unreal. I never thought I’d ever see Neurtal Milk Hotel live! They requested that the audience take no pictures, including cell phone pictures, so I completely abstained but found their full set at the Ottawa Folk Festival from the month before
As mentioned earlier, my friend Helena came to visit for three or four days and her friend from San Francisco, Kate, came at the end of the trip. I had a few days with Helena around Oxford showing her the colleges, punting, meadows, river walks, nice pubs and organizing a pub night so she could meet some of my friends. (Above: PC Helena)
Helena was here through the 4th, which I spent with her and some of her friends in London. I met them on Parliament Hill, which overlooks the city – they had been there for a few hours but were just packing up, so we turned around and went to Leila’s apartment. It was just really nice being around a group of Americans for once. Uninhibited, curious, nice people that were just easy and comfortable to be around! We stayed at Leila’s place for a few hours, then Helena, Kate and I made our way back to their airbnb near Hoxton Square.
I stayed in their apartment and had the morning with them before heading back to Oxford. We got brunch and split and shared lots of different breakfast items, then went to Borough Market to walk around, then Tower Bridge and a little walk on the Southbank.
We also recently had the incredible luck to see Neil Young as part of the British Summertime Festival at Hyde Park! Mike found crazy inexpensive tickets online for £2.50 and snapped up tickets for Jack and me. I very nearly bought the tickets at full price a few months ago but wasn’t sure what the acoustics would be like in Hyde Park. Kerrigan was also down from Scotland for the show, so we joined up with her and her friends for a bit, then found Mike x2, Kiera, Iain and Iain’s parents. Definitely a once in a lifetime show.
He played such a good set, and for two hours! His voice hasn’t changed at all. Here’s what he played:
Love and Only Love
Days That Used to Be
After the Gold Rush
Love to Burn
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Blowin’ in the Wind
Heart of Gold
Rockin’ in the Free World
Down by the River