With Latitude, it’s important to remember that it promotes itself as “more than just a music festival” and with its list of laid back anti-folk, forgotten country legends, and just a few electronic beats, the music could be seen to have taken a back seat. When the line-up was revealed there weren’t many jumping for joy, but some saw it as one of the best festivals of the season – this, a time in which many have signalled the death knell for the festival.
Bon Iver, who headlined Friday (13 July), was the band everyone looked forward to hearing with a pint at sunset. However, even without the sun they were the highlight as Justin Vernon’s voice washed over the crowd and somehow made everything beautiful and peaceful, despite sporadic rain showers.
Non-musical highlights were found in the comedy and poetry tents. Shappi Khorsandi provided an amusing commentary on her personal life, along with Josie Long who commented on society at large. In the poetry tent, the hypnotic tones of Rosy Carrick winded around our ears with a blend of wit and cynicism. Sabrina Mafouz and Katie Bonna and Richard Marsh delivered shows of narrative poetics, enticing the audience into their stories along lines of slick rhythm, alliteration and rhyme.
Spoken word stars Benjamin Zephaniah and Scroobius Pip filled the poetry tent, not to mention John Cooper Clarke, who is attracted such a large crowd you couldn’t see or hear him. Another crowd-pleaser is the “Don’t Flop” feature where poets and MCs battle against each other with freestyle insults. The poets won hands-down, leaving the MCs literally stammering and lost for words. It gets a little repetitive at times, and there’s the risk of tongue-in-cheek homophobia and misogyny. Thankfully any derogatory comments were booed by the audience and provoked responses such as “Boring!”
Kate Tempest, known for rapping in Sound of Rum and her a cappella spoken word sets were found at the Theatre. She performed a scratch of her show Brand New Ancients which merge a modern myth with musical riffs, receiving a standing ovation.
Latitude delivered so much quality this year that you’d have been entertained wherever you found yourself. This is true from the light of early morning until very late. One example of quality is Bwani Junction who took to the stage after the crowd grew from a select group of fans to a party of people, exploding out of the I-Arena. They got people moving before 11am and finished off with favourite track Two Bridges, as well as giving away limited edition postcards.
On a small stage, tucked away in the Faraway Forest, Brighton band Tiny Dragons performed late into the night as demands from the audience encouraged the stage manager to keep things going. Fronted by the power-lungs of Lizzie, they got everyone dancing with original material as well as finishing with a cover of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’, in addition to selling out of all their EPs.
Latitude proves that festivals still have a pulse. One of the main downsides to the festival is the weather (though it could have been worse) and the huge number of people. Hopefully next year there will be more sun.