Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Latitude Festival 2013

08 July 2013, 12:00 | Written by

Thus far, the British summer has yielded a number of surprises – Andy Murray’s been victorious at Wimbledon, Boards of Canada have punted out a new album, and our climate’s temporarily relinquished its anathema to sunshine. But one thing we could have predicted is that Latitude, now in its eighth year, promises to provide a smorgasbord of cultural delights to warm even the most cynical of hearts. Whilst the (more than a music) festival has obtained a not-entirely-inaccurate reputation as a rather middle-class affair, with its fair share of heritage acts, pre-built yurts and children called Tarquin larking about, it’s more fundamentally associated with the exceptional levels of talent it attracts year after year.

The likes of Sigur Ros, Arcade Fire, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, Nick Cave, The National and Bon Iver have headlined previous weekends, but the top-billed acts are traditionally mere cherries on top of an exceedingly strong undercard (last year’s run of St Vincent, Battles and M83 was rather unimpeachable). On top of that, there’s the comedy, theatre and literature tents, cabaret, performance art in the woods, random pianos commandeered by Keith Allen, ballerinas dancing on lakes and held aloft by balloons, multicoloured sheep, the aptly-named Guilty Pleasures, and most critically, chorizo and halloumi burgers to fill those rare moments when there’s nothing that musically tickles your fancy. But it’s got to be said that this year, those moments are likely to be sparser than ever.

Bloc-Party 2012 new Bloc Party

Things kick off on the Friday with a somewhat mid-noughties tinge, with Bloc Party, The Maccabees and Cat Power all gracing the Obelisk stage, and Willy Mason of ‘Oxygen’ fame making a very welcome appearance in the 6 Music Tent (Modest Mouse, alas, had to cancel.) For the 90′s kids, there’s seminal alt-rockers Texas and Yo La Tengo, and for those with a penchant for more recent fare, singer-songwriter John Grant is a must see. Also highly recommended are ever-dependable tex-mex maestros Calexico, the relentlessly frantic garage rock of Japandroids, and the unpredictable eclecticism of Akron/Family.

yeahyeahyeahs Yeah Yeah Yeah’s

As excellent as the first day’s proceedings promise to be, they pale in comparison to what Saturday has to offer. Charles Bradley’s old-school funk, Matthew E. White’s soul-tinged indie rock, Daughter’s spine-tingling vocals and Efterklang’s irrepressible joie de vivre would be worth the price of admission on their own, but the organisers of the Obelisk stage, in what appears to be some sort of eldritch ritual to invoke the dread God of Dance, have arranged for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hot Chip and Kraftwerk to play back-to-back. Of course, it’s open to question what will please this most whimsical of deities the most- gyrating like a monkey with a miniature cymbal, emulating the moves of a malfunctioning man-machine or simply dancing ’til we’re dead- but regardless, it’s going to be one hell of an evening.

Sunday, on the whole, is a more sedate and cultured affair, but after the shape-throwing chaos of the previous night that’s unlikely to be a bad thing. The hallowed Sunday lunchtime slot, introduced in 2008 and now an annual fixture, is taken up by the legendary Bobby Womack, 69 years old and recently recovered from cancer but still delivering masterfully potent performances of his classic R&B. Grizzly Bear’s dazzling harmonies and Beach House’s lush dreampop are the other big draws along with the jerky post-punk of Foals, but for those in the know, CocoRosie’s eccentric, baroque pop and mum’s Icelandic loveliness could well be the day’s true highlights.

Beach-House Beach House

This will be the fourth Latitude this reviewer will be attending, and take it from me- no matter how muddy it gets, no matter how many trustafarians there might be prowling around the campsite- it’s always been one of the most consistently enjoyable festival experiences around. Smaller than Glastonbury, more varied than End of The Road, capable of hosting big names as well as showcasing up-and-coming talent (check out Bo Ningen on the Lake Stage for some face-melting brilliance), it’s become an well-deserved institution of the UK live music calendar, and one that’s well worth your money.

Tickets are £190.50 and can be purchased from the Latitude website.

Lead photograph credit: Pooneh Ghana

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