Posted by: martinworster | August 13, 2010

95. LATITUDE FESTIVAL

It was slightly ironic to hear after attending the family orientated Latitude Festival that there were two rape incidents over the weekend. To be fair, it’s not really a reflection on the way it was organised or the festival experience I (thankfully) had – it’s simply unfortunate that out of forty thousand attendees  a couple of sociopathic deviants were in attendance. 

I’d chosen the festival for it’s kiddy friendly vibe. It was to be Tristan and Oliver’s first taste of an English festival. I thought I’d get them in some training before we hit the full Glastonbury mud and crowds ordeal at a later date.  The setting of Latitude is beautiful, just outside the coastal village of Southwold in Suffolk, surrounded by forests and glades. We walked to the main site from the car through a wooded trail. I was curious as to what lay ahead.

 The festival programme is amazing, catering to perhaps a more adult MOR Radio 2 friendly audience. Weird, I suppose that now means me? Poetry, comedy and literary tents abound. Upon entering the festival around lunchtime on Saturday afternoon I quickly remembered how doing anything at a festival involves a queue. Going to the toilet, buying food, getting into tents, getting home, going to the toilet – again. Our first mission was to buy a programme – which proved to be difficult as they had sold out on the Friday. I glimpsed someone else’s programme and scribble down some of the highlights on a scrap of paper. To call it a programme is a misnomer – it’s more a War and Peace sized tome. Every act gets biographical details all of course printed on 100% recycled organic paper.

To be honest I wasn’t really travelling to see a specific band. Whilst the line up was good (Belle and Sebastian, XX, Noah and the Whale, Vampire Weekend, Paul Heaton, all I can remember), there wasn’t really one act that jumped out at me. I was coming more for the experience. An ‘experience’ – that seems to be the whole marketing spiel of the glut of summer festivals in the last few years catering to every taste and age demographic. Post-rave electronica heads head to Big Chill. Dance party animals go to Bestival. Emo rockers head to Reading. Essex boys go to V Festival. Bearded middle class organic cider drinking wannabe poets head to Latitude.

It was very middle class. The sit down restaurant (where you had to make a reservation) near the kiddy area offered three course meals and frozen gin mojitos. The kiddy area appropriately close by so Portia, Felix and Tarquin can get their faces painted whilst mummy and daddy can read The Guardian whilst simultaneously munching on Casterbridge beef carpaccio and pata negra topped with Worcestershire sauce

I wanted to get into the literary tent but the queue was always too big. Hanif Kureishi and Bret Easton Ellis – two writers I admire were in attendance. Mark Lamarr was hosting part of the film tent. Another ‘celebrity’ I enjoy through his acerbic wit and excellent knowledge of reggae music on Radio 2. We walked into the comedy tent – but after hearing ‘wanker’ and ‘cunt’ hollered out as part of a comedy routine, Melissa (and I) thought the cursing perhaps inappropriate for young ears. The film tent was a no no as you had to be over 18. 

Musical I enjoyed a bit of Belle and Sebastian – jovial entertainers. I nodded my head to the XX, who’s melancholic simplicity seems to have touched a nerve anywhere. I mean, blimey, even I can come up with more complicated guitar riffs that that. One of the stand out acts for me was Noah and the Whale, perhaps an act no better suited to this sunny pastoral context. Their blend of whimsical yet musical folk – replete with ukleles, violins and female harmonies – seemed to sum up the sunny less-is-more ethos of the whole day and event perfectly. Could it be a new genre of music; bucolica?

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