Halfway between an Angel and a King, the Lexington is heaving with serfs waiting for the entertainment to begin.
A Green Man is holding a contest, a duel, a musical joust for the chance to clamber on stage at the foot of the Black Mountains in the valleys of the Brecon Beacons.
Five have been selected from a long list of thousands and a shorter list of less, three of which the writers in these very digital pages did request attend tonight and partake in the battle of the bands.
First up is Rosehip Teahouse, a short jaunt to the festival site from Cardiff it would be. Their gentle, Prog infused indie pop is going down a treat, the songs are strong enough, the melodies and hooks are big enough to avoid the pit falls of twee.
Members of Shame and Sorry appear at the bar and melt into the throng.
Next up are the enigma PVA. An electronic band, with live drums and guitar but leaning heavily on the keyboard, synthesiser and box of tricks, the finale using a special microphone that mimics the auto-tuned sound from such uber hits as Daft Punk’s “One More Time”.
Described as post-punk, but isn’t that everything after 1977, Jerry are a myriad of styles, the nearest contemporary comparison would be the sadly gone Evans the Death. Ticked off the list are Bad Manners, The Jam, Madness, Talking Heads, The Futureheads and The Fall. They’re exhilarating and frenetic but so tight and precise, thought out to the nth degree but made to sound like they could collapse and implode in on itself at any given moment. You stand there watching with a ridiculous grin on your face. They now need to harness their live sound in the studio.
Wych Elm have to follow them, and at first seem a little overawed but soon settle down. There’s an obvious Hole vibe going on, from the grunge style to frontwoman Caitlin Elliman’s uncanny resemblance to Courtney Love, from the peroxide blonde hair to the white lace dress. They avoid being a tribute by adding constant angular riff, which could have done with being higher in the mix, and having relatable and observant witty lyrics. They are finding their feet but can slip into the stream Wolf Alice have left in their wake.
Finally it’s Peaness. That’s right. Peaness. Anyone who has had anything to do with Alcopop Records over the past few years (and if you haven’t, why the fuck not?) then you may know about the jocularly named band. They got their name from the nature of being like a pea. That unmistakable character of pea. Probably. Peaness are just great fun. They constantly have huge grins on their faces, they are enjoying themselves and it’s infectious. There’s a Kenickie vibe about the harmonies and a Sleater Kinney influence in some of their more punky delivery, which all owe a debt to The Slits, but they’re as pop as Bananarama.
What stands out the most is the strength and diversity in depth. Five bands of which none sound the same, we had Indie Folk, Experimental Electronica, genre bending Post Punk, Grunge and Pop Punk.
There could only be one winner, except there wasn’t because it was announced that all five bands were invited to play the festival in August anyway. However, the actual winners were Jerry. Their jarring, jagged, urgent songs stood out like an overly exaggerated cartoon hit-with-a-hammer sore thumb. In the best way possible.
If you’re going to Green Man get down the Mountain early doors to get your weekend off to a blinder.
All photographs by Marieke Macklon