DiS's Wendy Roby and Andrzej Lukowski went to Latitude this year. AND HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM.
For Saturday's review, click HERE.
For Sunday's review, click HERE.
Wendy's Day One
When we arrive at Latitude, it is very dark because it is half past twelve and that is when dark happens. It is also blustering a gale, and there may or may not have been vodka in the car [Not the driver, we are not fools]. The trouble is, we have gone past being excited and arrived at Oh God Oh God, Tent, TENT. Sadly, the tent in my head (the one I know how to put up) is the tent before this one - so there is about half an hour of flapping it about ineffectually before we are saved by some stewards.
Both our two boy stewards (both of whom have good plimsolls and good haircuts, I notice such things) want to see the XX. I do not think they want to help girls who are a bit useless, but they make a good show of pretending to. And then another boy arrives, and he is wizard at camping and makes our tent go sort of up. We sit outside it till late, and can hear Tom Jones being quite boogie-woogie in the distance. We decide that is time for bed, but I am thinking ‘This is all quite Jools Holland,’ as I get into my bag for sleeping.
On Friday morning, when it is very hot and after we have waved a Press Accreditation thingy in the faces of the wristband people, we decide it is time to explore. The first thing I notice is that there are heaps and millions of kids. LOADS OF THEM. There are even nine-year-olds doing the DJing in our bar. I wonder if Latitude is in fact run by kids, but only the nice middle class ones with curly blonde moppet hair. There are also yellow and white daisies painted on EVERYTHING, even the bogs. And all the signage is in a divvy, blobby font. Unnecessary.
After strolling past Rose Elinor Dougall (whose hair I covet), and congratulating ourselves on missing Jonathan Jeremiah (because we were too busy eating locally-sourced, mission-statemented, organic bacon and eggs in a salt dough roll for six quid a pop although sayingallthat it was really quite nice), the first band we see properly are Villagers. And we are lucky in this regard, because I am bowled over; I get watery eyed and ‘a bit upset’ and everything. And even though Conor J. O'Brien is a tiny pocket man, he is huge on this stage. He is – I mean this, I really do – singing words like they had just occurred to him, and punctuating them with his face and hands. This is rare, I think, it is uncommon for a man to communicate all that yearn and make you believe it. I decide he is the indie Haley Joel Osment, a strange mixture of whisper and precision that makes us literally say ‘Brilliant, brilliant!’ and do our first rock ‘woo!’ of the festival. We leave the Word Arena and make for a spot by the river to perch, but within two minutes my friend and I have been accosted to complete a Greenpeace questionnaire. The young man who does me says it doesn’t matter if I don’t recycle every tin I eat something out of, so I sling my cider cup into the river while shouting 'FUCK YOU, NATURE’.
Only some of this is true.
The next thing we see is Laura Marling, on the main stage. She draws a huge crowd, but it feels wrong, and not in a 'I-Only-Like-Small-Venues' way. The thing of it is, she isn’t looking at the crowd that much, and I am afraid to say [I LOVE LAURA, I LOVE HER ALBUM] it is quite a disconnected performance. What is strange, is that the songs you might expect to be delivered slightly faster live - like ‘Rambling Man’ - are in fact slower, and the moments on I Speak Because I Can where it suddenly explodes are, if anything quieter. So it’s all sort of disappointing, and I am willing her to be amazing, and it is very sweet when she asks us to join in with the whistling but to beware because she is 'really really good at whistling’; and it is lovely when she sees a sign in the crowd from someone who wants to marry her; and it is lovely when she does a cover of Jackson C. Frank’s 'Blues Run The Game'. But it is not the dark, tremendous beauty that blossoms in my headphones when I listen to her at home. And I thought I was going to have an epiphany, so I write something spoilt and unrepeatable in my notepad.
Wild Beasts on the other hand, are bathed in red light and monstrous; all that their fans expect and terrifyingly saucy on top. It is rather odd that while I watch I also see little ones playing on the ground going ‘Ooo, pebbles!’ but perhaps these are city kids who have not seen pebbles before. It doesn’t matter, Wild Beasts have a huge crowd, the whole thing is enormously transportive, they do ‘We Still Got The Taste’, I am a bit scared of them, and there are arms aloft right to the back of the tent. Also, while queuing for the loo after, I get to see Mr. Adam Buxton in the actual flesh, and though I want to shout ‘I LOVE YOU ADAM’ at him, I am too spineless to do it. Instead, I transmit thoughtwaves to let him know he is Fantasy Husband #1. And you know, maybe he smiled and heard them, because after all, we are at a festival, and festivals are all about the 'vibes'. Also, I hear a lady call the Word Arena ‘The Uncut Tent’ and find this mildly amusing.
Music magazines! You are all the bleedin same.
I hear Empire of the Sun on a wait-break, and it is the first of those festival fun-times where you hang about and wait four hours for text messages to get to your friends so they can come and meet you. But those moments at Latitude are delightful, because even if it is not as good as Norfolk, Suffolk is very beautiful. There are lanterns in the sky at this point, and First Day Spirits are high [not like that]. Even so, I wonder who is buying all these Empire of the Sun records, even if they Put On A Show and have wacky dancers where their songs should be. The field bleed where I am sat is pretty offal though, and I wonder ‘Why you, Empire of the Sun?’. Or perhaps it is a more general ‘Why Empire of the Sun?’, I don’t know. I make the note ‘dreadful approximation of ‘dance’ and ‘noodle’’. And you know, I know, this is not good.
Then, I go to see Everything Everything. I feel the usual mix of giddy and afraid they will mess it up. And they do sort of mess it up, but in a good way, as if they cannot keep up with their own brilliance. It gets better as they go on, I convert my friend to them (I love it when this happens) and I also wonder if I can get away with a theory. About how some of the best complicated bands are rubbish live and it doesn’t matter. Hello, Happy Mondays, hello Stone Roses. ‘MY KZ, YR BF’ however, is monumentally fantastic, on ‘Schoolin’’ Jonathan deliberately stabs his eye with the mic and all of a sudden, they feel like a funk band, especially in the breakdown after the line ‘the drummer goes on’. Then, I feel I am being serenaded, and then I remember how odd they are, and then I think who cares if they are not really perfect. They are perfect, to me.
And then we head to the woods. In the woods there are pop-up nightclubs, where people are playing Bat The LED Balloon About And Dance At The Same Time. Convinced we must have larks at any cost, we throw ourselves into it and do the kind of dancing you do when you a) are too old to care, b) are not aiming to attract and c) want teenagers to laugh at you. But then we go to another, bigger tent and it all goes a bit Club Classics Vol. 14, so we go home.
Back at the tent we make earnest plans for things that are on very early next morning in the comedy tent. And I love it when people pretend to be sensible, it is unspoken but I think my friend and I both know this will not happen.
Wendy is on Twitter, here.
Lukowski's Day One
Hello there. Um, yeah, I'm not nearly so entertaining as her above, so, er, yeah, let's talk sexual violence. On Thursday night a girl was gang raped. On Friday night another girl was raped by an acquaintance of hers. This is really grim business, and has obviously been turned into a 'thing' by some of the media, who have suggested the whole festival was a bit like the sack of Constantinople. The whole Alice Glass ‘incident’ obviously didn't help, but really, Latitude felt no different this year to the previous two I’ve attended. Allegedly there was some rough customers in both the normal and guest campsites (DiS's Dom Gourlay suggests some competition winners who possibly weren’t arsed about the whole Latitude, er, vibe, may be part responsible), but safely tucked up in performer camping everything was fine for me (er, accepting the freakish numbers of earwigs. They're quite nice, really, I have decided) while I didn’t see a peep of trouble in the main performance area. So, er, yeah. It’s hard to say what this means for the festival’s future; hopefully nothing, though it’s hard to think Latitude’s reputation as a bastion of ultra-middleclass cosiness won’t have been slightly compromised. But the view from where I was was as rosy as ever, so there you go.
Anyway, it's Roby's anecdotes you're after, so here is a text message she sent me when I arrived: ‘We are having a cocktail tent break then l marling, beasts and EE. Our tent is an abominable shitshow :( but we had darling young chaps to help us. Wxx’. Not only is that more entertaining than the entire paragraph about, er, sexual violence up there, it also contains the names of more bands than I manage to see on the first day. Which is fine, because as the organisers are constantly saying, LATITUDE IS MORE THAN A MUSIC FESTIVAL. Anyway this is what happened: David O’Doherty (I want him to be my uncle or something, he is top hole), several editions of Robin Ince’s Book Club (hugely over-indulgent and not in a nice way), Jon Ronson (he does give good anecdote, even if there is possibly something wrong about being pished off yr face on Friday night listening to a journalist talking about mental patients) and Pappy’s (bit shambolic compared to when they used to be a Fun Club, but still A Hoot).
One half of the bands I saw was Black Mountain, whose timidity and politeness and, y'know, Canadian nationality makes them possibly the only stoner rock band actually suited to this festival. Anyway, their closing double whammy of ‘Druganaut’ and ‘Tyrants’ is big, clear, melodic, dynamic and just a little nasty, and though a band with ten minute long songs aren’t best served by a 40 minute time slot, I am now medium jonsing for album three.
Speaking of funny timings: it’s pointless to really grumble, but it is frightening how Florence+The Machine manage to drag out their set to start before and end after The National’s, considering she/they only have one album and The National have three plus those ones nobody owns or likes. I’m half frightened/half in awe to think about how la Welch did it, but I’m assuming about half an aeon of ‘You Got The Love’ was involved. Anyway, yeah, The National. Um, well I thought Mike Wheeler made a good point in his review of their Brighton gig that it’s the sheer number of great songs that Matt Berninger and chums have amassed that impresses the most at the moment: objectively speaking this is a fine, measured, nuanced performance that showcases the class of their last three records beautifully. At the same time, the last time I saw them (in Poland last year), Matt was pished off his face on about ten glasses of red wine, couldn’t stand up properly, and basically screamed his way through half the songs, and it was proper amazing. This is all a bit elder statesman for my liking, though I am not really thinking of that when I finally get my head blown off by the live incarnation of ‘Terrible Love’ closes the set, rolling in like a continent-sized thundercloud, roaring and elemental.