All images owned by Latitude Festival.
As Latitude continues to grow larger year on year, booking globally renowned headliners including New Order, Robyn, Foals, Portishead and many more, it is easy to overlook one of the festival’s most credible cards. Over a selection of stages, the arts & culture event showcases some of the freshest and most exciting new music the world has to offer, billing them in one almighty overload across three days. This year I headed down to Henham Park with my sights set on catching those on a swift ascent as well as acts fizzing with potential.
To add context, Latitude is known for championing acts through its tier like stage system as graduate alumni, from the likes of the Sunrise Arena and the Lake Stage have gone on to perform within the 6Music Tent and the mighty Obelisk. Examples include previous headliners Alt J, Of Monsters & Men, Chvrches and many more. Friday begins with Let’s Eat Grandma who impress on a smaller stage nestled within the woodlands, a perfect backdrop to their bewitching and mystical soundscapes.
Brother/sister duo Ardyn meld a folk charm with vocal harmony not too dissimilar to indie breakthrough Oh Wonder, who pull in huge numbers to the 6Music tent. A crowd that is however dwarfed by the intrigue of the weekend’s new music success story, Christine & The Queens who delivers a headline worthy performance that is achingly entertaining with stellar renditions of ‘The Loving Cup’, ‘Tilted’ and a world first live outing of ‘Jonathon’ with Perfume Genius.
White seem to be a Saturday must see for most as a large crowd congregate at DIY Magazine’s Alcove Stage and watch the four piece put in a career defining performance of tracks including ‘Living Fiction’ and ‘Fight The Feeling’. Earlier in the day Pumarosa pull an equally excited rabble of onlookers as they slink through a stylist set of saxophone solos, sparkled outfits, avant-garde dance breakdowns and anthems including ‘Priestess’ – equal part Kate Bush, Debbie Harry and Siouxsie Sioux.
Denmark’s Liss bring a soulful saunter to the lake echoing alumni Honne’s performance of last year that saw the pair rightly promoted to 6Music’s expansive stage. The Danish dudes power through a tight set of neo-lounge tracks, however only ‘Try’ and ‘Sorry’ really resonate with the laid back onlookers, most are simply lost in translation through awkward stage chatter and an obvious need for more practice sessions. Billie Marten debuts a full live band for her headline performance as well as a handful of new tracks. There is an air of early Laura Marling here yet the subtleties of ‘Heavy Weather’ are completely drowned out by the pulsating Chvrches and indie-angst of Kurt Vile performing in the near vicinity.
Fickle Friends capitalise on Sunday’s sunshine with a super charged set of Californian road trip and masterful pop hooks presented in a variety of infectious guises including ‘Say No More’, ‘Cry Baby’ and ‘Swim’, a dead cert for a fast track to the big leagues.
Bleeding Heart Pigeons celebrate the release of their debut ‘Is’ with an impassioned performance drawing heavily from the record delighting the loyal following. Pixx falls as flat as a fart at a funeral, plodding around the stage finding the whole event somehow beneath her, mocking smiles and awkward laughs between instrumental breakdowns and an incredible ability to avoid all eye contact with the pitiful number of people gathered for this pretentious pop princess party.
The Scandinavian invasion continues at the Sunrise Arena as Norwegian synth-pop heavyweights Highasakite obliterate their early evening set with immaculate versions of ‘Samurai Swords’ and new LP highlight ‘Golden Ticket’. We round off the weekend with two off centre pop performances from Oscar and Clean Cut Kid, each presenting a truly unique brand of music. The Liverpudlians win out on the personality scales, lead singer Mike Halls charging through a tidy setlist as part of a much larger festival schedule. Although visibly exhausted, the four piece come across as energetic and charismatic onstage, appreciating the rapturous response to ‘Pick Me Up’ and ‘Vitamin C’.
And so draws to a close Latitude for another year, a mind bending display of arts, music and theatre from across the world, scheduled impeccably over one gloriously sunny weekend. Offering platform to a whole host of new bands to rise through their own ranks, Latitude is beginning to threaten the likes of The Great Escape and Live at Leeds as the place to see the next global phenomena.