The logistical nightmare of increasing audience capacity from 10,000 people over three days last year to 21,000 this year started to show today. The showers broke, the food queues ran twenty people deep, the piles of rubbish were getting bigger and the portaloos were reeking. But somehow the happy, go lucky, nature of the Latitude pleasure seeker meant that none of this really matters.
Nevertheless, it was a swathe of the unwashed that sat and listened to anti-folk four piece Herman Dune kick things off in the Obelisk arena. Founding brothers David-Ivar and Andre, cruised through a selection of uplifting tracks from new album Giant. Their vintage, infectious sound, and quirky lyrics on I Wish I Could See You Soon, and In The Suburbs With You, bringing a smile to lobster red faces.
It was the glam ball gowns and fedora set that turned out to see Bat For Lashes. Natasha Khan wore an all-in one skeleton suit and de rigueur ABBA head band. Kooky and slightly unhinged, Britain’s Björk lulled the crowd with what was a treat for the ears and a spectacle for the eyes, playing select cuts from Fur and Gold.
The only hiccup in this session of hand claps and harpsichords was a poorly tuned piano, which meant she had to abandon her set list, but Khan handled it with good grace letting the haunting Sarah, What’s A Girl To Do, and the prescient Prescilla work their wonders.
Seasick Steve on the Uncut Stage was breathtaking, and benefited from a crowd that did know all about him, and told him so at every opportunity. The former hobo and producer of Modest Mouse has cool in spades, with every pore of him exuding soulful blues; just him, his guitar, his dungarees and several decades worth of attitude.
Elvis Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins, Norman Bates himself, has overcome the death of both his father from AIDS in 1992 and his mother in 2001, who was on a 9/11 jet, to craft a style that is part jugband Dylan, part less strung out Syd Barrett, with a deft touch of Astral Weeks. He is a fascinating artist, who on the Uncut Stage invited members of the underwhelming Cold War Kids (who played on Sunday) to perform songs from his album, Ash Wednesday. Both foot-stomping and fragile in equal measures, his performance will live long in the memory.
Bella Union’s Stephanie Dosen was pleasantly diverting, but she trod a fine line between that and mildly embarrassing. The diminutive and floaty singer was saved by some adorable banter, in which she mentioned poop, owls and bunnies, among other things. In a set during which she seemed overly keen to be off, she just about kept Bella Union’s reputation for signing unconventional talent intact.
Joan As Police Woman was disappointing, overdoing material from her Real Life album and now in need of a new direction, while Clap Your Hands Say Yeah did not go down at all well on the Obelisk Stage, quirky geek-rock evidently not being in vogue amongst the young boys and girls, sporting formidable haircuts all.
Brazilian band du jour CSS brought much needed pizazz and mayhem after a mellow afternoon’s music. Lovefoxx’s multi-coloured sequinned onesy was fantastic, as was her leading the masses in chaotic dance moves, jumping into the crowd and overall obsession with her own good time. It was impossible to take your eyes of her. However, you can’t help but think that CSS are aware their time in the sun will not last long, and they are enjoying it while they can. Still their ‘pseudo love song’ Let’s Make Love… was, in Lovefoxx’s own words, magical.
Proving that he was more than just a one trick pony Scroobius Pip was headlining the Lake Stage. Aficionados of the spoken word went crazy for his manifesto for modern day living Thou Shalt Always Kill and the mosh pit was equally galvanised by the pounding bass and jarring rhythms of new single The Beat That My Heart Skipped.
Headlining the Uncut stage on Saturday were the fast fingered, Dublin based Rodrigo Y Gabriela. The stage erupted in a fiesta of handclapping and foot stamping, followed by whooping approval for every track, and jaws fell to the floor as Gabrielle’s fingers whipped with super human speed across the strings. This Mexican duo are mesmerising and provide unique takes on songs like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and Metallica’s Orion. There was only one place to be on Saturday night and it was right here.
Words by Barnaby Smith and Clair Whitefield