Green Man Festival, Glanusk Park Estate, Wales

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The Independent Culture

Winner of the Best Medium Sized Festival at last year's UK Festival Awards, Green Man is, at its core, a folk festival, which means beards galore on stage, even more beards among the audience, and lots and lots of guitars.

Guys with guitars, and girls with guitars, dominate the bowl-like main stage with three sloped banks around its edges enabling unobstructed seated and horizontal viewing, and the atmospheric Victorian walled Courtyard. Chai Wallah's sleek tent, billowing with pungent incense, and the Far Out arena offer alternatives to the folk theme.

Green Man's lack of corporate sponsors and branding is refreshing, as is the relaxed, multigenerational audience enticed by its focus on music, in a breathtaking environment. There's hippy, pagan (an eight-metre Green Man constructed from wood and cardboard, and a screening of a singalong Wickerman say it all), and Celtic undertones, carving a distinct identify among identikit festivals.

Texan quartet Explosions in the Sky's headline Friday night with twinkling, expansive post-rock tapestries spun from interweaving three electric guitars (sometimes four) and percussion.

The 2 Bears' DJ set at Far Out, accompanied by a man in a bear costume, prancing on stage, fulfils Joe "Hot Chip" Goddard and Raf Rundell's "fun house" crusade. Soaring two-step house, thrusting electro techno, and bustling Afro-beat, accompanied by South Park-style animation (a smug Berlusconi beneath a "bunga bunga" slogan) balances dancing and laughing.

On Saturday, Polar Bear's fiery jazz with two saxophones seemingly arguing, conversing and making up, backed by wild-haired Seb Rochford's propulsive drumming, electronic effects and a guitar, is magnetic.

Fleet Foxes' lead singer Robin Pecknold's subtle harmonies, ethereal voice and idiosyncratic phrasing, set against soundscapes of lush melodies, delighted Saturday night's main stage audience.

Laura Marling, introduced as one of the greatest folk singers of all time, draws the biggest crowd of the weekend as she unveils new songs, and drifts between Irish and Americana-tinged folk. It's Dizraeli & The Small Gods, however, telling touching, funny stories of riots, atheism, Englishness, through folk, rap, spoken word, hymns and reggae, who embody 21st-century folk.

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