I think it’s taken me three attendances of this fantastically picturesque Suffolk-based festival to realise that Latitude really really is ‘more than just a music festival’. It is an unsurprisingly simultaneous realisation that, to be frank, Latitude 2013 was the best festival I have ever been to ever. Obviously my glory is a subjective truth, a contextual circumstantial coincidence of all manner of things happening the way they did, but I feel it all came down to my approach; that’s what proved the source of wonderful experience. I went with a friend and we essentially blanked our canvas, we agreed that we wouldn’t really mind not seeing the artists we previously knew/loved, especially if it was because we were lost somewhere else amongst the tangle of art, poetry, theatre, comedy, obscure music stages and of course all the, er, jazz.
Basically, each day we could have pre-planned, filled with artists I wanted to see because I already knew about them/liked them/caught them in my internet/had a friend all hyper about them/loved them, but instead each day was laid to rest in the warmth of our subconscious minds, impulses. Latitude is well good for that, I could really just relax and let the pure surrounding life of art-beating immerse all of my senses, without much effort, much tension of the nerves.
Indeed, in terms of music, we saw some amazing performances: most were utterly unexpected; like our almost literally stumbling into a 5 metre squared tent on The Faraway Forest to a sound-check by The Golden Boys; a nine-piece band, often jumping around, wildly beating fingers on saxophones & amplified strings, loud as loud rhythm tapping the feet of 2 or 3 other audience members who seemed either related to the band or likewise half under the impression that this was some mad once-in-a-lifetime-witnessed amazing kind of live art installation. Later at night – our accidentally witnessing the entire set of jazz-raving-crowd-up-tearing Melt Yourself Down at the Lavish Lounge [ALCOVE?], indeed 48 hours later at the same place, amongst a melee of wide smiles, revolving hips in an ‘after a fashion’ fiesta of the brazilian band Graveola… The upsurging huge drops (!!) to bass-pumping madness that Flume produced in the Film & Music Arena, timetabled amusingly between the bemused (slightly older) gaze of short-film enthusiasts… The songs we wandered over to by Yo La Tengo at the big sun-flooded Obelisk Arena – the final song lasting well over 10 minutes; what seems now in my memory as just one huge excitement of hypnotic guitar-flung solo, almost insane.
The Golden Boys – Wheels of Fortune
Melt Yourself Down – We Are Enough
But some of the amazement we anticipated with underlinings in our timetable each morning; names like Willy Mason – his songs so goddam sturdy at the BBC Radio 6 Stage, his voice so beautiful and strong and heavy, lyrics like gravity – “when the riptide gets you down” he sung at one point like so many other points – his eyes like love and sorrow caught by every crowded attending mind, made uncrowded, thoughts dispersed with a pleasant ache of feelings: a wondrously effective musician.
Like Tallest Man on Earth; a similar folk, everything played at once – straight to the heart like no other voice, no other chords, simple. Simple man and guitar; I have to type and delete multiple times these over-wordy romantic descriptions I’m tempted by: philosopher of soul, he’s a religion of love and belief… No. No, basically I was there in the sun watching him next to my friends and my brother, watching him writhing around, crying his loads of stuff on stage, stuff that sounds as if to cover life in its entirety with a great guitar-strumming feeling of unfailing engagement, emotion, what lives are about…
Another source of expected goodness-perhaps surpassed but nonetheless hoped for- came from Mùm. An almost overwhelming dazed performance of sounds artificial versus ambient, bizarre, over figurative dancing; dresses billowing with hand gestures, pummelling to a background agreement of a sometimes ghostly, always stirring noise, underlying catching guitars fading in and out, coaxing, collecting the girls’ voices, majesties, this Icelandic band is more a collection, an array of trees on the horizon that means you’re somewhere home. Like a horizon that means home; this music’s a soft yearned-for embrace.Yeah, on reflection, I swear there’s a part in my brain that’s exclusively submissive to the beautiful noise they made. This video collects a small fraction of that, but nonetheless it faintly reminds me of it happening.
More notable celebrities were Beach House; they did it, they finished the festival (albeit at the same time as Foals). The tent they played was basically three quarters full. Each person had so much space around it, that was heaven then. You know that thing about Beach House. That Beach House thing, they put it on every song, makes it sound completely heaven. How to describe it? It’s like this slow intake of breath (slow tempo), taken in somewhere where you can see really really far, you have this heartbeat thing inside of you knocking so full of all life (basically hip-hop), a huge landscape in front of you (the heaviness of the reverb) but the more you stare, the more it looks like this one serious face (all these washing-over guitars and cymbals identified with a solitary solemn singer’s voice), oh the singer, seamlessly self-reflecting, prolonging held vowels of peace, mind, the music turned every person in to themselves and made them see good, helped them see out.
Here’s them being interviewed by the BBC last year:
…Pant… And that’s just the music! In between all this was a continual of over-heardness – perspectives made profound and poetic, glimpses & snippets of actors acting life-stories, whimsical grounds of play – ‘toys’ (analog sound effects) we played with that made crazy analog sounds, sitting-down cigarettes with big screens and surreal scenes, the theatre we saw was disturbing then disturbingly funny, sculptures fascinating, weird and curious, but never too weird. I always get reassured. Like, your ‘Latitude’ is never far from a perfect-looking family scene; unpacking things and zipping things up on picnic benches with the children running around dressed up and happy, your ‘Latitude’ is never far from a group of 16 year olds with their own little unique group identity, happy; it’s never far from some relieved-looking mid-thirty year old girls on a ‘work social’, or an old married-looking couple refreshed, lively in the middle of throngs and applause.
The fashion of Latitude is not overbearing; it’s a moderate fashion like the pleasant weightiness of a compass pressed in your hand, your heart; encompassing the kindness of all the bearings of so many different types of people, ages, background, foregrounds and faces. Latitude is not of one kind, it’s so many different kinds! That in itself is the most liberating feeling; the perfect arena for art-involvement.
And so, with this arena now worded out for you – perhaps a reminder of your now past fantasy-seeming weekend or to tempt you to a new place you haven’t yet lived (definitely go to Latitude 2014! Tickets available at 2013 prices!) – maybe I might indulge myself now in the lazy direction of a few musical streams to be inserted retrospectively in amongst the writing, listen, identify those (only 8 of many other) bands mentioned above who made my Latitude what it was in many many memorable respects.
So many respects; enjoy this 8tracks mix we’ve compiled all together over the last 3 months of music on Latitude: