Review: Latitude Festival 2014

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Less brash and more family friendly than its older siblings Reading & Leeds – Latitude offers the unique opportunity of being able to hit a mainstream festival without a lot of the hassle that come with attending some of its bigger rivals.

Set in the tranquil grounds of Henham Park, Suffolk. Latitude Festival has gone from strength to strength since its incarnation in 2006 and has gained the reputation as a sort of boutique version of Glastonbury.

Covering Music, Arts, Film and Comedy the festival has pretty much something for everyone… But seen as though we’re a music publication, we decided it be best if we spent our time around the music stages.

Kick-starting our weekend were Temples, who hit the 6 music stage on Friday afternoon, with a psyched out set of 70’s infused guitar-pop,  bringing appreciative nods from some of the older Dads in the crowd who appeared to be hearing the Kettering band for the first time.

The number one thing about Latitude is its cosy size, all the arenas can easily reached within five-minutes’ and that helps to keep potential clashes to a minimum, and so with a clash in the air we managed to dart quickly over to the Lake Stage at the conclusion Temples to catch the last quarter of Childhoods set, who with the sun beating down on the uncovered stage, brought their summer-laced pop to an unfortunately modest crowd. Sounding slick and confident the upcoming four-piece warranted a much larger audience and with their debut LP in the pipelines they are nailed on to have that exposure next year.

Blurring the lines between indie and commercial-electro, William Doyle aka East India Youth played one of the most well received sets of day one in the picturesque iArena. The one-man-band continues to impress every time we see him with his abstract brand of indie.

Nothing makes an organiser or promoter squirm like having one of their headliners cancel two-days before they are due to headline and Festival Republic were fortunate to get recent Glastonbury headliner Lilly Allen to step in at the last-minute for Two Door Cinema Club and in fairness, despite the tight-time frame Lilly put on one of her usual snappy and abrasive pop-show with the minimum of fuss (though she did need the help of an auto-cue)

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Kicking off day two at Latitude were Teen who brought touch of glamour to the iArena. The Brooklyn based sisters built their short set around the synth-heavy ‘The Way and Color’ LP.

Saturday was a good day for new music all round with the stages packed with upcoming acts (more than I could appreciably cover) and recent Polydor records signings Years & Years had the crowd spilling out of the Acova tent for their mid-afternoon set – even though the Olly Alexander led-three piece only have one single in the public domain. Following on from Years & Years was the much hyped brother & sister act BROODS, who made their British festival debut on the Acova stage. The New Zealand siblings has been making waves with their soulful -R&B infused-pop and they wooed the crowd with a set that featured their upcoming single ‘Mother & Father’.

After enjoying the pop-tendencies of the early afternoon acts, it was time for the decibels to be turned up with a set from the best ‘live’ band in Britain aka Slaves. The Royal Tunbridge Wells duo’s cult status grows with every show and their Lake Stage performance featuring the much loved “Girl Fight” had the crowd going (literally) mental.

Before the monsoon arrived and we were all washed away; Welsh outfit Catfish & the bottlemen headlined the Lake Stage treating us to a set full of stadium ready rock. Their previous singles ’Ranjo’, ‘Pacifier’ and the anthemic ‘Homesick’ sounded great live, but their brand of un-offensive indie conjured mixed-emotions and it won’t be until their debut LP gets  released in September will we know if they have the substance to match their ambitions.

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Unfortunately the rest of Saturday evening entailed trying not to get struck by lightning and day-three didn’t start much better – trudging through the mud soaked fields of rural Norfolk with a hangover isn’t the most enjoyable thing… So it was great please to see These Ghosts perform the Alcove Stage and their chilled-wave vibe was just the tonic before we had our ears drilled again with sets from the unorthodoxly brilliant Fat white family, while there was an unfortunate clash mid-afternnon when Parquet Courts 6 Music Stage set crossed over with Leeds punks Eagulls who were smashing up the iArena. In the end Eagulls won.

After having reservations about Haim’s debut LP ‘Days are Gone’ it was with a-bit of reluctance I visited the main-stage to catch them, but to be fair they charmed and wooed the young crowd who turned up to catch them with a set littered with choreographed sound bites.

Providing the surprise package of the weekend were Circa Waves who unleashed a wave (get it?) of new tracks from their forthcoming LP, each new track sounded like a single in waiting as they blended their new material in with recent singles ‘Young Chasers’,  ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ and ‘100 Strangers’. It wouldn’t be a great surprise if we see them on the main stage next year.

Latitude Festival likes to think of itself as having something for everyone from an avid music fan, art lover, film buff to the weekend tourist and on the evidence we could see on our first visit to the festival it does everything it says on the tin.

By Michael Jamsion