I have picked out a handful of highlights from my (altogether fantabulous) weekend to share with you all…
BUG with Adam Buxton, Far Out (Thu)
Introducing himself as our ‘Middle-Class Festival Host’, Adam Buxton welcomes us all to Green Man on Thursday with that merry brand of tomfoolery many of us have grown to love in both him and Joe Cornish over the years. He opens with his ‘(Middle Class) Festival Time’ song which for your pleasure I recorded and have put up on YouTube for you all.
Whilst often sprinkled with wry takes on cheeky adolescent humour, the pair have always been, especially on 6music, very careful to keep all conversation above board. It is strange, and in some ways a little refreshing therefore, to see Adam Buxton bust out such risqué humour in this show, where on many occasions you find yourself with that odd sense of laughing out of pure shock. Though as Buxton does occasionally point out, there is more to this show than him mucking about on stage. The programme is called BUG, set up by Buxton in co-ordination with BFI Southbank, and it aims to showcase and draw attention to some of the more innovative and merit-worthy media projects out there, as sourced from around the world (YouTube). For example, he brings our attention to PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’, which has reached 53million views in a month, purely, as far as I can see, from its ridiculous brilliance (see below).
In true Buxton style, he also delights in drawing our attention to the volumes and volumes of lunatic ignoramuses out there with his playfully de-constructive presentation of some of the stranger YouTube comments attached to the videos.
All in all, a fun and vaguely insightful way to enjoy the weekend in a way that doesn’t directly involve music.
Willy Mason, The Walled Garden (Sat)
Amongst his fans, Willy Mason is a musician who holds a romantic allure that is twee, whilst still very gutsy in demeanour. This is something that makes him a very fitting choice, not just for this festival, but to finish up on this stage in particular. The ‘Walled Garden’ is surrounded, believe it or not, by four tall brick walls that enclose us into a small but ambient amphitheatre. As evening falls, the lights begin to flicker, distant trees sway, and a feverish warmth encompasses the crowd of onlookers.
But this isn’t just as simple as well-wishers keeping themselves warm at night with a guitar and cute vocals. Seeing Willy Mason live here, for me, brought out an enchanting depth and torrid struggle in his song-writing, accompanied by a charming, if understated, stage presence. I think this is something that is particularly potent and well-developed in his newer material, where his songs bear something brutally dark but yet strangely elegant. It reminds me of a Josh T Pearson, given a slightly more youthful push of vigour and exuberance, whilst still holding onto that modest touch of grace, strung out with subtle touches of embittered hunger all the same. This is the facet of his performance that I find the most absorbing; he is a performer with the wryness of someone long beyond his years.
Remember Remember, The Far Out Stage (Fri)
These guys probably took the biscuit for the most pleasantly surprisingly altogether thoroughly good band I was previously ignorant to before the weekend, and there were shamefully a lot for a supposed music ‘journalist’. Signed to Mogwai’s ‘Rock Action Records’ Label, these guys are similarly Scottish, and similarly instrumental. The music breathes with a slightly more electronic pulse, compared to their post-rock godfathers. Their sound was particularly absorbing at The Far Out Stage which boasted an amazing sound-system for the first half of the weekend, and really brought out the best in some of the louder electro noise-heads that later joined them that day, such as ‘Errors’, ‘Lower Dens’ and ‘Junior Boys’.
The ‘Far Out’ Stage.