Latitude Festival 2013

With the festival blues mercifully waning, I feel like an insignificant cog in a system again. So as I look back at the detached world that harboured all the goodness in the world, I immediately wish for its warmth again.

Like many festivals, Latitude is billed as ‘more than a music festival’ but after looking at the line-up, the phrase carries more substance this time. Yet despite my reverence for creative writing, it was difficult to drag myself from this fanciful realm just to hear some humorous beat poems. And even when Thurston Moore whisked contemplative words and introspective silence through my ears, Mt. Wolf’s wispy tones beckoned me away and into the sun where the splendour of the day adorned my face like a lavish headdress.

Before I rattle on about bands you may or may not have heard of, let me make one thing. Arching above all the delectable sounds and soaring sunlight, it was the atmosphere of it all that’s prevalent in my memories. It sounds obvious, you might say: “all festivals are atmospherically beautiful” and you’re right, they are. But this one was different. And it’s difficult to explain why. But here’s a little run-down anyway.

Friday begun with the best discovery of the weekend, Young Wonder – an Irish electro-pop duo that made me feel weightless and floated me from under the trees and into the iArena. I just had to put a face to the vocals. It was probably ‘To You’ that caused this gravity-defying feat and it set the tone for what would be a day of seeing up-and-coming artists. The fiery Kins and dreamy Mt. Wolf also played under the cover of trees but you’d be forgiven if you saw Wolf Alice and Sweet Baboo instead. A most unfortunate clash. Then it was back to the whimsical woods to see Widowspeak. To this day, despite having released two full-length albums, I just can’t fathom why their dense atmospherics doesn’t attract more people. Maybe it’s just easy to put me under a spell.

Although Bloc Party played a foot-stomping set – hearing ‘Ratchet’ for the first time stirred a mild frenzy in my ears – the abiding memory is still of being under the shadowy light of the woods and drifting away on vapours of wistful sounds. From that day onwards, I had already chosen my favourite part of the festival. If you ever have a chance to attend Latitude Festival, I implore to spend as much time as possible in the woods. It felt like aimlessly wandering through clouds whilst the most beautiful soundscapes formed in front of you.

Alt-J was surprisingly fervent considering the 3D show that Kraftwerk were putting on. But that’s the thing about tent-stages; it encapsulates the atmosphere so much better than open-air gigs. In that very same tent, Austra and Cocorosie were mesmerising. The former hit off a storming set with a drum-pounding barrage of bass. I’ve never had something so soft hit me so hard. And the beatboxer of Cocorosie was simply amazing. Not only does he spit beats with metronomic precision, but the solo highlighted his free-flowing variety too.

Stealing Sheep and Friends were expectedly good. The former received the best reception of all the times I’ve seen them so it seems that their infectious doom-pop is finally taking effect. And despite Friends losing their previous bassist Lesley Hann, Samantha Urbani still carries the band with a confident swagger.

I thought Beach House ended the festival with poetic. But oh how wrong I was. After stomping about in the woods (again) and being sad that music ceased all over the festival (or so we thought), we found what appeared to be an open-mic session. Except there wasn’t a mic but a load of sofas and an acoustic guitar. Let’s just say there were some beautiful voices and delightful covers that quite honestly couldn’t have concluded the festival any better.

Looking back, it was the perfect symbolisation of Latitude Festival. Yes, it wasn’t just a music festival. But neither was it a poetry, theatre or comedy festival. It was a festival of vibes. A festival of effervescent harmony where anyone can get involved, sing along and dream all through the night and day.

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