Since its inception seven years ago, Latitude has always stressed that it’s “more than a music festival,” and the briefest glimpse at this year’s line-up suggests that if anything, that’s an understatement. Taking place in the verdant grounds of Henham Park in deepest, darkest Suffolk from 12-15 July, Festival Republic’s most singular event combines an always inspiring musical programme with the crème de la crème of Britain’s comedy, film, poetry and literary scenes. Less intimidating than Glastonbury and less parochial than End of the Road – not to mention less full of coked-up teenagers than Reading – it’s one of the few places where a lady or gentleman of taste and distinction may one moment chuckle at the sharp ad-libs of Rich Hall (inspiration for The Simpsons’ Moe Syzlak, dontcha’know), and the next nod sagely to John Pilger’s declamations about the brutality and cynicism of war, before staggering haphazardly to the Guilty Pleasures tent and caterwauling to Journey ‘til three in the morning.
But for all its other tantalising cultural diversions, Latitude’s most compelling attraction remains its excellent and diverse selection of musical acts. Top billed are woodland-recluse-turned-80’s-synth-fetishist Bon Iver, anthemic Mancunians Elbow and the Modfather himself, Mr Paul Weller; all of whom are assured to evoke the lighter-waving sing-alongs that a headline set is contractually bound to have.
But it’s the undercard that truly stands out, proffering a smorgasbord of aural delights to satisfy the appetites of even the most cynical soul. For those who like to dance, Janelle Monae’s incredible funk-laden neo-soul, Amadou and Mariam’s groovy Malian rhythms, Yeasayer’s gleeful psychedelic pop and tUnE-YaRdS’ afrobeat experimentalism guarantee that moves will be busted a-plenty.
For those who prefer emotional devastation to reckless shape-throwing, The Antlers will be willing to make your day that little bit more heartbreaking, and of course there’s Lana Del Rey, who by mid-July should be at the post-post-post-backlash part of the critical cycle and therefore acceptable for people to enjoy again. And that’s just Friday.
Saturday’s roster is no less enticing, with veteran miserabilists Low, hotly tipped Swedish shoegazers I Break Horses and diminutive electro-goth Zola Jesus promising to send shivers down our collective spines, and Los Campesinos! on hand to provide what’s likely to be one of the liveliest spectacles of the weekend.
But the best seems to have been left to last, with the final day offering fuzzed-out freakouts from guitar goddess St. Vincent, dazzling math-rock and absurdly high cymbals from Battles, dream-like synths and judicious cowbell from M83 and the rootin’-tootin’, fun-for-all-the-family joyousness of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. Not to mention that the legendary Rufus Wainwright will be tinkling the ivories for a special Sunday lunchtime performance on the Obelisk Stage.
And if all that hasn’t tempted you, the place is chockfull of multicoloured sheep gallivanting about the place like oversized balls of candyfloss. How can any sane person resist? Tickets are available from the Latitude website for the reasonable price of £175, but snap them up quick, lest you miss the opportunity to attend what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the festival calendar.