For those of you who were tuned into the blog when we ran our preview pieces and who have read our thoughts on the festival over the years you will know just how much we love it. How that year after it has become a ritual. A ritual made up of wooded raves, forested rambling, canopied dancing, open air dancing, lakeside sprawls, teenage crowd surfing, Poetry laced naps and a general feeling of wonderment and contentedness. In the more recent years I must admit we have found ourselves not so much crowd surfing to CSS and New Young Pony Club and nipping across the site for improvised interviews or tweeting pictures of 3D glasses. This year we
Even though our tastes change Latitude is always there catering to the highest quality. In 2007 all 8 of us went straight to the main stage as soon as it opened on Sunday to wait for Arcade Fire’s headline slot. That day I saw for the first time bands that would go on to be some of my favourite acts around today including The National, Au Revoir Simone, Cold War Kids, The Rapture and Andrew Bird. Even if any festival could book a run of acts as fantastic as that I don’t think I could enjoy it more than I did aged 17. Latitude has always been the festival where I experienced and got to know my music as a teenager and you can never get that sensation back (although you can get pretty close).
It was a funny thing to look at the thousands of kids packed out to see Haim this year and going absolutely berserk for every song whether they knew the words or not. The buzz of seeing great new music in an immediate crowd of friends who in turn are surrounded by many thousands of like minded individuals is huge and should be a seminal part of every teenagers life. It was an odd moment of perspective noticing that we have these annual music institutions where kids can do exactly that whether those bands are The Rapture, CSS and The Hold Steady or Haim, Crystal Fighters and Catfish And The Bottlemen.
The year that Hold Steady played we had all been packed into the Obelisk Stage crowd for hours having the time of our teenage lives. The security guys were handing out water to everyone at the front which was filtering back providing momentary hydration or ammunition to throw at the girl you fancy. The band each had a bottle of beer by their side and every time Craig Finn took a swig it was almost torture to watch, especially when all you could hope for that weekend would be a smuggled Lucozade bottle of underage whisky or something equally gross when you got back toy our tent. This year I accidentally bought some prosecco with a raspberry in it before putting my head inside a tree to enjoy a small piece of installation art. In the process I realised that I had indeed grown older and my tastes had changed. But this was no issue for Latitude and its arsenal of the extraordinary and the unexpected of entertainment I would’t have thought twice about in my formative years.
But the festival really has not changed despite almost being 10 years old. Granted it has grown and is now at a very stately 35,000 capacity with each stage/tent sprawling accordingly. But rather than pile us all into 1 bigger pot Latitude caters for an increasingly diverse crowd with more focus going in to the late night parties, heritage acts and the genuinely stunning Thursday/Friday night performances carried out on the lake surface. Everything from the post exam youngsters to mid 20s hipsters to families of 6 to elderly couples come to Latitude and have an extraordinary time. Indeed they could easily spend the entire weekend at Henham Park unaware that there are entire other demographics a stones throw also having the time of their life but rather than creased up to WitTank in the Cabaret Tent they are in fact being stunned by the extraordinary Nils Frahm playing in the woods or just maybe they are watching Damien Albarn being joined on stage by Graham Coxon under a sky filled with thunder and lightning.
I’ve done a few festivals now and, sentimental and biased though I am, I don’t think there is another one out there that books acts and artists of such a high calibre across such an incredibly diverse range of the arts and I hope that doesn’t change
Our highlights of this year (in no particular order):
The Meridian Brothers
Rag N Bone Man
Booker T Jones
A short film about a boy and a girl who share a flat in Glasgow
James (1000 times James)
The War On Drugs
Huge thank you to the festival and to all at Midas PR for being so wonderful as ever.