Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kids of today - at the Green Man Festival in Wales

I spent part of Saturday getting wet in an agreeable and civilized fashion amongst the bookshops and cafes of Hay on Wye. Then we went back to our holiday pastime of getting lost on Welsh/English border 'B' Roads.

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An 'A' Road (The cars on the left are not driving; this is Wales. They're parked facing the wrong way. Oncoming traffic would be to the right.)

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A 'B' Road. (These are two-way 65 mph roads (unless marked otherwise). There is a vehicle heading towards us in the distance. It was surprised to see us stopped in the middle of the road like bloody tourists, but it managed.)

After that we returned to the Green Man festival to get wet with the hippies and folkies in knee-deep festival mud. The bands, both on the main stage and the Folkey Dolkey stage, seemed a bit off. Maybe it was just me. The ones I saw all seemed much of a muchness, predominantly Velvet Underground but with a dollop of melancholia instead of a hit of skull-peeling bug-eyed crazy. (BF pointed out that VU was a quarter Welsh, so perhaps I was detecting that rather than rockist nature.)

As night fell on Saturday, we were on a hill in Wales, watching hippies launch tens of hot air balloons into the troposphere (approx.), eating nachos while a band from Louisiana sang songs about Albuquerque and Phoenix. I thought Phew, Rock and Roll! Because after all you can’t get that vibe in Southern California. Oh, wait . . .

The nachos had more sauce than most So Cal ones, though. I had to lick the plate clean when I ran out of (delicious) chips. “You don’t have to lick the plate clean in America,” I told BF. “No,” replied he, “In America the clean plate licks you.” Well, I thought it was funny.

Lyricists these days seem a little off too. Not pointing fingers at anyone in particular but all the non-Welsh lyrics seemed to have been dreamed up rather than written down. The singers seem to have made a conscious decision not to make any definitive statements. Should I pass them a note saying that this in itself is a definitive statement? I suspect that might confuse them.

All the songs went approximately like this:

I woke up today and scratched my balls
And then I had a shave.
I thought about the world, no, thought is
Probably too strong a word.
Idly speculated about the world.
That’s better.
Isn’t it awful? The world, that is.
Though perhaps some people like it this way.
And it takes all sorts. I think I’ll kiss my girlfriend
If I can be bothered.
Woah Woah Woah Woah.
Yeah Yeah like it this way.

I exempt the Welsh lyrics because they might have been deep or pithy or both. I don’t know. Let’s assume they were.

I found more action in the Ystafel Cynnwrf (Rumpus Room) where DJs were getting the crowd going using the time honored Northern Locarno tactics of playing lots of R’n’B and Chinnichap singles. It was working, too, but we felt we ought to stick with live music because technically, we can go to a nightclub pretty much any day of the week – and with less mud.

The headliner that night was Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation – more in the next post.

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