There’s little point in pretending that we don’t want to have the Latitude festival’s children, so here’s a rundown of why it’s so awesome and what we're looking forward to the most, in no particular order. Apart from the bit about the sheep.
Really, any random field in which nothing was going on would be about ten times better if there were pastel livestock present. At Latitude inflicting a broadly pointless, mildly humiliating, and presumably no good for the actual wool dye job upon the hapless ruminants of Henham Park is... well, it’s just awesome.
Admittedly, most British outdoor festivals are basically middle-class affairs, but generally punters tend to get a little ‘escapist’... y'know, horse tranquilizer, setting fire to expensive tents bought for them by their doting parents and the like. Not at Latitude: nicely turned out families with children called things like Vienetta wander around in packs, saying things like ”mummy, if I’m extra good can I have just one more organic falafel?” A minority, perhaps, but they set the tone for a mostly civilised weekend where you can be tucked up by 2am and not feel like you’ve on some level or other failed as a human being. And following on from that...
Sort of having a headliner at noon
Does anything more unsubtly hint that maybe you shouldn't be dicking away your day trying to poach eggs on a Primus while LIFE IS HAPPENING ELSEWHERE than shoving Thom Yorke on at noon on the Sunday, a slot last year occupied by Joanna Newsom? No! Well, maybe: having the dancier Sunrise Arena shut at something daft like 9pm probably does too. But the point being, nobody prefers poached eggs to soul-crushing piano dirges. Do they?
Video: Thom Yorke: 'Harrowdown Hill'
The music is quite good
Video: The Pet Shop Boys: 'Rent' (live)
Yes, so as we said Thom Yorke is playing. That’s quite a coup, isn’t it? Elsewhere Of Montreal, St Vincent, Tricky, Magazine, Fever Ray, Marnie Stern and, LOLz, The Duckworth Lewis Method bring prominent levels of only-UK-outdoor-festival-this-summer awesome, and basically if you’re not at least medium tumescent at the prospect of seeing Pet Shop Boys you’re probably one of those weird people who used up all their serotonin and are now condemned to a life of utter tedium. We read about that in a paper once. Or maybe it was a dream.
But it was not always that way!
It’s hard to really put your finger on what the music policy at Latitude is; ATP gone family-friendly? Bestival shuffled slightly to the left, minus the narcotics? Whatever the case, the last couple of years have seen it settle on a sort of mix between the more comforting end of the musical leftfield and the sparkier bits of the centre. This has made the festival a lot better, at least musically, as we can forgive but perhaps never forget the fact that in its 2006 debut year, major acts included Snow Patrol and Paolo Nutini. Shudder. But credit to Latitude to steering it into increasingly more expansive waters. (Admittedly some people have bitched about the headliners this year, but those people are very odd people who probably think Interpol are better than Nick Cave). Though we do note that ahem Newton Faulkner has sloped his way onto the bill. Tsk.
You can legitimately avoid those pesky ‘bands’
Video: Jamie Kilstein: live at the Comedy Store
By simple virtue of having more and bigger bands, the Latitude of now is closer to a dedicated music festival than at its inception, but the non-music line up remains as comprehensive as ever; why see some fey goon sing about his feelings when you can go to a Q&A with Stephen Frears? He’s was nominated for an Oscar, he was. You can ask him “Stephen, what is it like to be nominated for an Oscar?”. And why see the next big thing when you can listen to a recital by Andrew Motion? He’s only met the Queen, he has. Oh, and DiS delightedly notes that old Uni friend Emily Berry appears to be doing the poetry arena. You should see her. Her poetry’s amazing. Erm, probably. Also heartily recommended - Jamie Kilstein and Phil Nichol in comedy, Sketchatron featuring Pappy’s Fun Club and The Penny Dreadfuls over at the Literary Arena, and, oh, loads of other stuff really. Screw the bands, actually. You can see a band any time. And even then you should think twice.
Hidden away stuff
The main stages are good’n’all, but even if the very idea of poetry or the visual arts leaves you quivering with rage, it’s always worth scanning the programme for unusual musical events taking place on the non-band stages, particularly later at night. Last year post-watershed turns from Barry Adamson and Buzzcocks went down well: this year Jeremy Warmsley and Little Words playing the songs of Tom Waits and Daniel Johnson could be fun (Friday, Film and Music arena), while Lightspeed Champion sings Cat Stevens’ songs from the soundtrack of Harold And Maude sounds too convoluted a set up to afford to miss. Other slightly random spots – poet Nathan Jones teaming up with The Wave Machines (Friday, Poetry), the nerd wet dream of Jeffrey Lewis giving a lecture on The Watchmen at Film And Music on Saturday), and the mighty Luke Haines pouring venom over the Nineties as he touts his Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part In Its Downfall autobiography on the Literary Arena Sunday. [EDIT: Gah! Luke Haines has pulled out, citing 'moronic promoter error'].
DiS tips of the days - feel free to add your own below
- Pet Shop Boys
- Of Montreal
- Fever Ray
- The Duckworth Lewis Method
- Sketchatron featuring The Penny Dreadfuls and Pappy's Fun Club
- St Vincent
- Marnie Stern
- BAFTA presents a pre-release screening of Le Donk followed by Q&A with director Shane Meadows and star Paddy Considine
- Jeffrey Lewis: Watchmen Lecture and Q&A
- Grace Jones
- Thom Yorke
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
- Lightspeed Champion sings Cat Stevens’ songs from the soundtrack of 1971 film Harold & Maude
- The Vaselines
Image by Jon Appleyard