Latitude 2015 was quite the adventure. Having never been, nor even entered the idyllic county of Suffolk, I was excited to see what it had in store for me. What I wasn’t expecting was the collective 26 hours of travelling that weekend to and from the festival. Traffic is a bitch.
Nem, one of our regular contributors and my oldest friend, and myself began our journey on a cramped megabus to London. After a brief stay with her Dad near Streatham, we threw our ridiculously heavy festival bags over our shoulders and headed to Liverpool Street Station to meet our lift to the festival. On the recommendation of Latitude, I decided to check out BlaBlaCar.com – a lift sharing website. You buy a seat, phone numbers get exchanged and in return you get priority parking at the festival. Words of caution from my mother reverberated around my brain… “Don’t get into cars with strangers” – what was I doing? This guy could be an axe murderer for all I know. Paul, originally from Ireland wasn’t. In fact, he was an absolute legend. Within minutes we both had new nicknames (Navigator for me, B-sides for Nem), discussed the destructive nature of Catholicism and agreed that women should rule the world. We liked Paul.
According to Google Maps, the journey from London to Beccles, near Southwold should have taken two and a half hours… we finally arrived seven and a half hours later… Traffic was manic and even with all our strategic B road tactics, we only just managed to get to the press office to pick up our tickets. Having frustratingly missed some of my favourite bands, me and Nem threw our pop up tent up, and headed to see Alt J.
Alt J, oh Alt J. Your records are great and your music is fantastic, but please don’t ever play live again. Out of tune harmonies, out of time guitar and a slack attitude to match, it was quite the disappointment. Who knew that autotune and coherent lyrics were actually necessary to enjoy this band? Having been a fan of the records and not wanting to destroy what was left of my respect for them as musicians, we followed the loud bass coming from the Radio 6 Music tent, courtesy of the man, the legend, Jon Hopkins.
With hours of being sat in a hot Jeep behind us, it was clearly necessary to dance some of the travelling off. Complete with strobe lights and dancing hula hoopers, Jon Hopkins was a treat for the eyes and the ears. Melodic and atmospheric electronica filled the tent, with enough drops to keep the bass heads happy and enough spacey beats to keep my head in the clouds and my feet moving without my knowledge. It was the perfect end to a stressful day.
Nem and I awoke the next day to a cackling lesbian couple in the tent next to ours, who began the day by doing one of the most middle class things one can do at a festival; take iPad selfies by their tent. After a quick nap in the sun, we decided to head to get some breakfast, and with Nem being vegan that meant hummus and falafel. Apparently that’s the only thing vegans eat. If you’re not vegan however, the food and drink choices available were extensive. Spoilt with curries, burgers, pizzas, smoothies, milkshakes, noodles and more, there’s something for everyone. If you’re on a tight budget (like us), you can still get a hearty meal for around a fiver, which will keep you full for a few hours!
Starting off in the poetry tent, with bellies full of falafel, we experienced the glorious Brigitte Aphrodite, a punk poet, musician and feminist showgirl, who’s new project My Beautiful Black Dog tackles the stigma of mental health with lots of glitter and exuberant word play. Exploring the realities of depression with references to hiding from your friends, panic attacks in the shopping mall and drinking too much wine, her performance was funny, hopeful and entirely relatable.
Wandering around, it was clear that Latitude is not only a creative and fun-filled festival but it’s also set in a picturesque location, with a lake to swim in, woodland to play in and loads of space to grab some rays. The organisers had put a load of effort into making the space look pretty with loads of bunting, colourful picnic benches, pink sheep and artwork everywhere. It’s a very photogenic place. Latitude has a lot more on offer than just music though, with poetry, comedy, live theatre and spoken word holding its own every year. Situated next to a makeshift bus stop was the Human Zoo Theatre Company, who, three times a day, would perform their piece called Monotone Man. A mime based, physical theatre performance, it explored the concept of ‘brightening up your life’, physically and metaphorically through colourful costumes and props. The Monotone Man however remains in his black and grey suit, frantically avoiding the colourful and stubbornly avoiding their progress. It was such an absorbing show and a perfect way to break up your day of music and booze.
In terms of music however, there was just so much on offer. We caught Jose Gonzalez, Laura Marling, Benjamin Booker and loads more, all in the space of a day. It was during this time that the sun was high up in the sky and the factor 50 was being applied vigorously. Allowing us some time to relax and enjoy some music, I found myself people watching. There’s a whole range of festival goers that hit up Latitude every year. Don’t be put off by the hordes of families, they’re not party poopers. You will often see half cut parents dragging reluctant kids to their feet in order to dance. We did our best to avoid the ‘youth’, who were either enjoying their first time on MDMA or instead, heavily sun stroked and dehydrated. Either way, their desperately cool dancing in order to get laid couldn’t be ignored.
As the afternoon was upon us, we treated ourselves to some musical misery with Sun Kil Moon, alter ego to Mark Kozelek and the Red House Painters. Beautiful guitar pieces and train-of-thought lyrics about serial killers and the first girl he kissed was a sombre way to spend the afternoon, but after missing him at Green Man Festival last year, I wasn’t about to mess about. To cheer ourselves up afterwards, we headed to the packed comedy tent, catching the last ten minutes of Sara Pascoe’s set and settling in for Marcus Brigstocke.
Having enjoyed his comedy on Radio 4 and TV, I thought he’d be a good one to check out. I wasn’t wrong, and found myself in hysterics over subjects such as political party stereotypes and the casual seven and a half hour commute from London to Latitude (glad to know we weren’t the only ones!) as well as a dramatic retelling of his first testicular examination. Latitude really knows how to mix it up, in every aspect of entertainment.
Finally, the sun began to set, and we made our way back from a packed Catfish and the Bottlemen performance to the main stage for Portishead. I’m a massive Portishead fan, taking inspiration for their music in my own creative projects. To hear Dummy, Portishead and Third played live, alongside anti-Tory and psychedelic visuals was an absolute treat. It was only when Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame joined Beth Gibbons on stage to sing The Rip, that I pretty much died and went to heaven. I was gutted to find out that we’d missed Radiohead’s secret show later on that evening, but unfortunately that can be the nature of the beast with secret shows at festivals.
What a fantastic weekend though. Latitude 2015 was absolutely incredible and I really hope I get the opportunity to go back next year. If you’re into music, comedy, poetry and theatre, or just one of those, you’re in for a treat.