Saturday, July 17, 2010

Latitude Day 1

Location: Latitude – 52N  24’ 15.43”  Longitude 1E 33’ 43.81” Latitude Festival Day 1

My 5th birthday party was a fairy party with ten of my closest friends. Latitudes 5th birthday party - a three day music extravaganza wish 35,000 of their closest.  

Since 2006 thousands upon thousands of excited punters have descended upon the shy streets of Suffolk for the Latitude Festival. With a reputation as a ‘boutique’ music festival this quaint English gem is definitely in a class of its own. Not only does Latitude offer a stellar, world class line up, but if your one of those people who need a break from the music (crazy I know, but they do exist) there are seventeen different arenas/stages that offer everything from comedy, theatre, poetry, literary workshops, film, cabaret and even something for the tiny-tots. I had been warned! This IS a family friendly festival and ten minutes into day one I had already witnessed the mother of all tantrums.

There is no doubt that organisers have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to the music. Last years festival flaunted timeless acts such as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Thom Yorke yet also laid a trail of pop scented bait for the younger festival goers.  This year, the line up is just as eclectic and thanks to “new music aficionado” Huw Stephens, some of the freshest meat the UK has to offer is also being served.

The vast history of Henham Park is only part of the landscapes charm. Surrounded by endless acres of green grass, forest of redwoods and oak, and a tranquil little lake this is the perfect way to experience my first UK festival. The atmosphere is a playful mixture of Splendour In the Grass and Playground Weekender and I don’t feel all that far from home until I spot Winston Churchill (a food vendor serving up venison).

After an entwined walk through the lush and magnificent forest, Lissie was captivating the Sunrise arena with a stunning folk rock performance that had enough pop sensibilities to keep the little ones enthralled.  Across the lake one of the many new comers to the festival circuit – Yuck. The Lake stage had been brought to life with this young four piece out of the UK.

Half expecting dreary English weather although not dressed the part I was hugely impressed with not getting pissed on. The sky held off and it was a rather nice day. Between sets trying to soak up as much as possible was my priority, only later to discover there was a whole other section of the festival to explore. Today perhaps. Making our way through to the World Stage to see hard rockers (with a hint Psychedelia) - Black Mountain. Their thunderous drums and heavy bass line screamed Black Sabbath while other influences showcased elements akin Tame Impala. Their monstrous sound was only to be balanced by the beautiful yet fragile vocals of female lead Amber Webber. 

Patiently waiting after around after Black Mountain up next was Newport brother and sister folk duo Angus and Julia stone. These two complement each other perfectly and as always they were absolutely stunning. Their performance alternated between leads with each song filling the stage with emotive lyrics and beautiful harmonies. Playing mostly stuff of their recent album Down The Way, Julia later invited Damien Rice on stage to join her for a striking rendition of You’re The One That I Want from Greece which incited a mammoth applauded from their audience.

 Meanwhile at the Obelisk Arena (Latitudes main arena) Spoon were slowly building their alternative indie rock tunes. Seemingly unimpressed with the audience’s enthusiasm Britt Daniel was extremely blasé about the whole performance. But despite minimal showmanship hearing their songs live recaptured my love for spoon.  Shortly after the arena was filled with fans of Laura Marling who’s endearing melodies and poetic lyrics seemed to put her audience under a spell. Then again they may have just been nodding off during Marling’s modest performance.

After grabbing some dinner from the vast selection that included sushi, ostrich burgers and cupcakes, I headed to a band we had been recommended while on the extremely tame (and long) bus ride from Ipswich Station to Henham ParkLuna Belle. Clearly that recommendation had come from friends of the singer and the crowed was made up of much the same. Screaming girls mostly. A hundred or so seventeen and eighteen year olds danced along to a set that was nothing from the norm. Thanks for the tip guys! This chick belongs more so on X factor than a stage at Latitude.

Being an all ages event there was bound to be a little corner where the underage kids converge to drunk their smuggled grog (or the stuff their parents had slyly passed to them at the festival). Today the setting for idiotic teenage shit stirring was the Sunrise arena, Conveniently tucked away in thick forest. Tokyo Police Club’s phenomenal set repeatedly lost  focus as the same four idiot teenage boys kept trying to crowd surf to the front. Good for you, I’d love to try it one day but when you have now had to be pulled from the crowed for the eighth time meaning the bouncers have to climb up block the view of the stage and pull you down just so you can run back and do it again. Not cool. TPC are not a heavy set but these dick heads tried to start a circle of death forgetting the fact there were even smaller children in the centre. Kids as tiny as eight were getting pulled from the pit in tears.

Aside from the chaos in the crowed, TPC were amazing. The Canadian Indie rock quartet put on a solid set that was heavy with well crafted danceable songs. Elements of garage rock and even post punk shone through and the group played some fresh tracks of the yet to be released album Champ. With a sound that has clearly matured over the years TPC maintained the momentum through out their set. The showmanship was applaudable, insane dance moves and just enough between song banter to ensure this act would be a highlight.

Hecticly delayed surf rockers Girls were next. Their modern psychedelic sound has just that hint of The Beach Boys and Buddy Holy. It was the type of mellow shoe gaze rock that just screamed the Californian sun and would have been the perfect sound track Tom Wolfe’s Pump House Gang only a few decades to late. Despite a huge reputation fro the indulgence in drugs their performance was controlled and reserved.

Everything Everything are a wicked UK four piece who are just staring to make waves, keep your eyes peeled! Closing the Lake stage EE put on a spectacular show of unconventional pop. Their songs drenched with harmonies and falsetto vocals epitomised raw talent. Each track was densely layered with vast array of shifting vocals that were highly complex and compelling to watch. Across the festival our very own Empire of the Sun were putting on a spectical of music and colour.

Dodging the masses I headed back to the main arena to catch Florence and the Machine for her first ever head line set. Apparently the entire festival had the same idea. On stage Florence was joined by an entire string section, ten person choir, her usual band and her famous harp. Welch’s stunning vocals, unique costumes and set design transported you to a delicate fairy tale that wasn’t with out its gothic charms. Alluring and beautiful the performance was of grand scale that alternated across genres. Opening with Drumming Song her set transformed from immense tribal drumming to epic soulful numbers. Tip toeing and fluttering about the stage in a while unitard with long batwing arms, last nights performance was very Bjork. Although many tracks were drawn own with three minute intros the set ran for an hour and a half with a low point of inviting someone on stage and getting the audience to join her in singing happy birthday to them. Powerfully delicate and slightly mysterious Florence and the machine were by far the highlight of the festival.

Now I’m off to do it all again. . 

Pics and Vids to come
Posted By Bec Clark (Reebajeeb)

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