…3 BadBadNotGood, 2 Aldous Harding, 1….
Jack Palfrey

17:15 23rd August 2017

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This year’s Green Man had without a doubt one of the best line-up's of any UK festival this year.

Celebrating their 15th birthday in style and alongside an incredible atmosphere, the festival boasted a ridiculous amount of good names. To conclude our coverage of the weekend we slaved over this ranked list of the top ten bands who performed. If you were there, take a look and see if you agree with us and if you couldn’t make it, well, have a look what you missed out on.

10. Shame

London band Shame haven’t been about long but have already picked up a notorious reputation for their feral live show, and their set at this year’s Green Man made it plainly clear why. They played early Sunday afternoon on the Far Out stage and made for the perfect cure for the now three-day-deep hangovers. Their boisterous, politically-charged post-punk was a visceral call to arms with front-man Charlie Steen’s rowdy stage-presence violently grabbing everyone’s attention from start to finish.

9. The Comet Is Coming

2016 Mercury-nominated three piece The Comet Is Coming describe their sound as “apocalyptic space funk”. The band, going by the monikers of Danalogue The Conqueror, Betamax Killer and King Shabaka, twist a mix of jazz and electronica into warped and utterly mind-blowing music. They played the Chai Wallahs stage late Saturday night and were simply out of this world. Danalogue and Betamax handled synth and drum duty, propelling King Shabaka’s crazy tenor saxophone wails with stabs of harsh, sporadic beats.

8. Sleaford Mods

Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods have been around for over a decade now, spewing their angry anti-establishment vitriol over minimalistic electronic beats, crafting something that’s just as much hip-hop as it is punk. Although the backing tracks are pre-recorded and Andrew Fearn doesn’t really do much aside from press play, it’s frontman Jason Williamson’s merciless vocals – falling somewhere between Mark E Smith and Mike Skinner – that make for an incredible live show. Subversive, political, formidable: they rallied the crowd into a gyrating, excited mass stretching way beyond the tent.


7. Allah-Las

Allah-Las’ jangling, 60s psych-pop nostalgia was a moment of sheer bliss. The LA-based retro revivalists transported the crowd back in time to the lysergic, incense-scented haze of the West Coast in the late Sixties. Their swooning, reverb-soaked rock’n’roll could easily have been plucked right out of one of those precious Nuggets collections – many bands go for this sort of thing but none have quite the execution and sincerity of Allah-Las and they had the audience swaying in a trance-like state for the duration of their set.

6. Happyness

London slackers Happyness wooed crowds at the main stage during the day on Friday. Their woozy, easy-going college-rock channels the likes of Pavement and Elliott Smith but repackaged for 21st century slackers. Happyness are more than just the product of their influences though, offering a unique take on a genre that can easily be too indebted to its founders - their dreamy, nonchalant indie-rock was the perfect soundtrack to one of the festivals very few moments of sunshine.

5. Kikagaku Moyo

Anyone who’s already seen Kikagaku Moyo will know how ridiculous they are live. The Japanese band looked and sounded simply unreal when they stormed through their mesmerising, Eastern-influenced psych-rock on the Far Out stage on Friday afternoon. Driven with a relentless krautrock gusto – akin to Can or Amon Duul II - their mystical, swirling psychedelia was totally transfixing and met with thunderous applause and screams from the crowd after each and every song.

4. PJ Harvey

It feels kind of cheap putting a festival headliner in one of these lists because you always expect them to be amazing, and it reeks just a little bit of lazy music journalism. But honestly, this was just too good not to include. Harvey and band – all clad in black, like an eerie funeral procession - took to the stage to the beat of marching drums before powering majestically through an extensive set that consolidated PJ Harvey's reputation as one of the most bewitching and prolific musicians in British popular music history. Utterly entrancing yet equally sinister, ethereal yet despairing and hypnotically cinematic, her dark gospel-blues were the perfect way to draw the weekend to a close.

3. BadBadNotGood

Toronto jazz sorts BadBadNotGood have had an insanely busy few years. Their organic, low-slung grooves have seen them team up with Tyler The Creator, Ghostface Killah, Snoop Dogg and Frank Ocean but they’re still at their best when it’s just them alone on stage. Their set was comprised mostly of tracks from their amazing 2016 LP IV and a few instrumental renditions from the rest of their discography. Flicking between slow soulful numbers and moments of chaotic, otherworldly jazz meandering around screeching saxophones and flutes, cosmic synths and meticulous percussion is what they do best. After seeing their monumental live show it’s obvious why they’re quickly becoming hip-hop’s first port-of-call for the finest neo-jazz instrumentals.

2. Aldous Harding

New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding played the Walled Garden stage during the day on Saturday and it was nothing short of a spectacle. Completely sublime and chillingly beautiful, Harding’s soft mesmeric vocals were simply breath-taking – tracks like ‘Blend’ and Imagining My Man’ literally made my hairs stand on end with heavenly brooding vocals, delicate fingerpicked guitars and sparse, almost-gothic keys. Aside from the deafening roars of applause that followed each song, all the crowd could do was stand silently in awe, completely hypnotised. Even Harding herself repeatedly said how the show was better than she could have ever imagined, genuinely looking shocked and humbled – and rightly so, this felt like a truly defining moment from the entire festival.

1. Oh Sees

There was so many good bands at this year’s Green Man but after slaving over this list for a while I think there’s none more deserving of the highest rank than cult garage-rockers Oh Sees – who, as their set at Green Man proved, might actually be the best live band on the planet. No, seriously. The group - led by John Dwyer - are one of the most prolific bands in the international psych-rock scene with a career spanning two decades, and are set to release their 19th LP Orc this week – having dropped the ‘Thee’ from their name and recruiting a second drummer (making them even noisier and relentless than before, if that’s even possible). Their set included a bunch of stuff from their new album and see’s them almost transcend the garage rock tag in space of utterly ferocious and ridiculously heavy noise-rock, experiencing it live was a formidable force, like a shot of adrenaline administered straight to the bloodstream.

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Photo: Luke Hannaford