Neutral Milk Hotel closed the 12th Green Man festival last night (August 17) with a sensational set drawing heavily from their cult 1998 album ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’, and declared the festival more “humane” and “real” than others they’d played.
“It’s very beautiful, it’s very humane,” said singer Jeff Mangum as he introduced ‘Naomi’, “lots of festivals feel very plastic, this feels very real.”
NMH opened their set with Mangum playing a solo ‘Two-Headed Boy’ before the rest of the band joined him for rousing Mariachi instrumental ‘The Fool’. The band then threw themselves into a frenzied ‘Holland, 1945’ before revisiting punk-style favourites from debut album ‘On Avery Island’ such as ‘A Baby For Pree’ and ‘Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone’.
‘The King Of Carrot Flowers Part 1’ and ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’ prompted huge sing-alongs while ‘Song Against Sex’ and ‘Ghost’ were ecstatically received. The band finished the set with ‘Engine’, a song multi-instrumentalist Scott Spillane called “a lullaby”.
Neutral Milk Hotel played:
‘A Baby For Pree’
‘Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone’
‘The King Of Carrot Flowers Part 1’
‘The King Of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 and 3’
‘I’n The Aeroplane Over The Sea’
‘Ferris Wheel On Fire’
‘Song Against Sex’
‘Snow Song Pt 1’
‘Two Headed Boy, Part 2’
The opening day of the festival was headlined by Beirut, playing a stirring set of horn-led beerhall tunes including ‘A Sunday Smile’, ‘Nantes’, ‘Santa Fe’ and ‘Elephant Gun’. They also unveiled several synthier new songs including ‘Rumeli’. Saturday saw Mercury Rev perform their 1998 album ‘Deserter’s Songs’ in its entirety, followed by a cover of Sparklehorse’s ‘Sea Of Teeth’ as a tribute to the band’s Mark Linkous, who committed suicide in 2010. Singer Jonathan Donahue also claimed the band would shortly be releasing an eighth studio album.
Elsewhere during the weekend, Toy’s Friday afternoon set in the Far Out tent was cut short due to time restrictions and Mac DeMarco played a laugh-a-minute set during which he tried to find a crowd member to give his bassist Pierce McGarry tent space to sleep in, despite claiming “he never cleans his teeth and he stinks like shit.” McGarry added: “I like to get a little sweet in the night too, so watch your back.” Following a set including ‘Passing Out Pieces’ and ‘I’m A Man’, DeMarco finished with ‘Still Together’ during which he crowdsurfed to one of the tent’s structural scaffolds, climbed up and fell back into the crowd.
On Saturday, Fat White Family proved a major draw, impressing a packed crowd in the Far Out tent with a confident set of chant rock drones such as ‘Auto Neutron’ and scuzzy rock like ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’. Guitarist Saul Adamczewski dedicated one song to “the guys who sorted us out some pills”. Saturday’s bill also included Ought channelling the cranky art of Talking Heads, Kraftwerk and The Undertones, a solo set from former Walkmen singer Hamilton Leithauser, a performance from Sharon Van Etten (pictured) and a rapturously received show from The War On Drugs.
On the final day, Joanna Gruesome’s set in the Far Out tent was cancelled due to illness, but Speedy Ortiz and Real Estate played well-received sets.