There's a scene in the film "Slam" where Saul Williams uses poetry to save himself from a prison yard beating, the power of his words and their delivery stuns his aggressors, providing him with his salvation. I think of that scene as I'm watching The Irrepressibles play across the water, I'm left overcome with my own thoughts, overwhelmed by the weight of their imagery. I get the feeling that Jamie McDermott could probably stop bullets with his voice if he wanted to. Breathing every note, eking every possible emotion from each syllable he sings. He sings and passers by stop and listen, he sings and the world stops spinning, he sings and each particle I possess is his, his alone to manipulate as is his will. My body becomes a conduit for his feeling, I find freedom in its power, I find freedom in my powerlessness to it.

It's Thursday night at Latitude and there is a hard juxtaposition between the most tender of moments and the football chanting lads clapping themselves through the woods, as a dancer walks on water, himself becoming water, tied to the voice moving through us, to the music in turn, to everything as one crescendo, linked by the blissful endorphin rush of freedom. Freedom to be found in music and music alone. There is beauty here and yet.

The first night is always the worst at a festival, the excited night you do too much, the night that inadvertently sets up the rest of the weekend, that starts the process of stripping your inhibitions one by one. For now, everyone stands in circles facing inwards, tied to the validation of their peers. Rushing to reach that 'festival feeling' without understanding that it cannot be rushed. That it's a state of mind that can only occur when levels of fatigue and ingestion entwine and peak together, through exhaustion and repetition, building on desolation, until you are instinct and action alone. It's a state of mind that can't be bought the week before in a chain store or painted onto your face with luminous colours. You cannot blame anyone for rushing headlong at that feeling, for rushing away from their everyday life, from school, from work, from whatever. I guess it's that escape, that feeling that they came for, it can't all be about having an interesting Instagram account.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

"Dancing like a yoga teacher on fast forward"

Wandering the site the morning after, before anything has really even begun, there are star spangled casualties, already everywhere there are people that have peaked. You wonder the sight of the night before, how desperate these people are for a change, grasping at anything to break out. Ásgeir's voice reaches through the muddied tented sound and steals those thoughts, twisting them into lonesome nostalgic shapes, then leaves you somehow feeling better. 'Torrent' and 'Home' are highlights of a thoroughly engaging set. The audience whoops and the applause dies down, turning to leave, that painfully slow crowd walk to the exit, a guy in a 'Duff Beer' t-shirt asks 'Who were they? They were awesome'. His mate squints up at him and says 'I dunno', and they walk off down the hill to the bar.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

A few steps further away you can hear the sound of Kelis' band playing from over the hill. She inspires that strange festival phenomenon; the half assed, standing, swinging arm dance. Scanning the audience it seems at first like nobody is dancing, when in fact everyone is dancing on the spot, it's just nobody cares enough to commit to it. The bass, brass and drums lock together, creating tight funk jams, perfect for the hottest summer afternoon of the year. 'Milkshake' breaks the crowd out of their passivity, it's the one they know so they dance and sing like it matters, provoking a strange irony. Her milkshake clearly brought everyone to the yard, but once it's done it also makes them leave.

It's best not to talk about Temples, who try to be lots of things and don't succeed with any, unless the aim all along was to sound like Cooper Temple Clause for the Soundcloud generation. They play Oceansize in the changeover so I'm suitably righteous by the time Goat take the stage. I find myself saying things like 'Goat wear masks because they melted their own faces off with riffs' and 'Goat is my spirit animal'. Songs like 'Run To Your Mama' and 'Let It Bleed' win over all the other animals as various glittered MDMA adventurers shake their shoulders. You dance with your shoulders to Goat. You stamp your feet to Goat. You shake yourself free to Goat. Their wah wah pedal is my spirit animal. "THIS IS EMOTIONAL" he says as his friend takes the selfie, gurning. Goat finish on a couple of new songs, they're stuck in what must be the worst part of the cycle for a band, their new album is finished but not released so they have to play the old songs for fear of losing the crowd. They play the new songs with a fever, the new album will be Goat, plus more Goat, which is exciting news indeed.

Hearing Rudimental over the hill I rejoice in the fact I can see so many people not watching them. During Teeth of the Sea I see animated robots marching, wearing clothes from top shop, dayglo painted smiles, they are crying and so am I, watching. I have visions provoked by drones, creaks, triumphant trumpets, I have visions until I'm snapped out of it to sit on a log and drink cider, to contemplate everything in the never quite quiet of the festival.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

You watch musicians play their music and you hear the reference points and you can process where it came from and where it sits within the great story of everything, can't you?

Son Lux make sound with a default setting of amazement and wonder, with wide eyes, prompting involuntary body movement. I don't know how to reference what I heard to anything, more than that, I don't have to. Son Lux are three musicians having fun and pushing themselves, a real musicians band, so overwhelming is their skill that I can barely control myself. Adjusting songs from 'Lanterns' so that every point is a peak, and every coda is a car crash, I am not alone in becoming euphoria itself. We're all flailing limbs and smiling faces, awestruck, devastated by the sound, such is its scale, such is its scope, such is its monumental, life changing, everything. Music can feel like this, it can, there is hope and beauty and unbridled fucking joy, it is all possible, it doesn't have to feel so replicated, so flat, so recreated without the recreation.

Music, or resonating instruments at least, fill the woods when Son Lux leave the stage. So dejected are we by the contrast, that the decision is made to make Southwold beach our headline act. We head to the sea and we jump in. The noise is gone, we didn't realise how loud it had become until it had gone, she mentioned it and the thought crystallised. Sometimes you have to escape the escape to escape, and sure, those waves do crash down.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

"So slow was the change that we didn't notice it until it was too late"

Clean in the morning, with fatigue setting in, there's Agnes Obel. Her music is the perfect way to start a day. She says "We are playing instruments that are not supposed to be played at a Festival" and I wonder why, because it's perfect. Drifting through the looped cello's, piano, voices in harmony, drifting towards that freedom again. Your daily concerns, that you strived so passionately to escape, have been replaced by new concerns. Heat, food, the thunderstorm, the storm still coming, you can't let these things go, there has to be something, it's all life, and she let's you drift through it all. Strings and piano lift you out of it and into it. Engaging in the mini dramas of whoever is closest to you, becoming part of them for a moment before moving on, forgetting. Before you know it, they are bowing centre stage and leaving, she should've played all day.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

In the woods they have tied boats to the trees, fish to the trees, nets to the trees. Logs have been carved into seats, confession booths are staffed by students dressed as nuns, a multitude of gazebos from under which hours can be lost forming connections with other people. The kids area is massive, filled with puppet makers and dancers and weavers and musicians, and hundreds of children having fun. It starts to make sense, the 'more than just a music festival' tagline, it is more than just a music festival, it's a holiday park, it's a caravan site. There's entertainment for offspring of all ages, and there's enough trust to allow many to camp alone for the first time, high on the freedom, on a shared drop of alcohol, on the other boys and the other girls, and Mum in the next field with your younger brother, and people to help you back to your tent, and all the while not so free as to terrify, but free enough to roam.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable
Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable
Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

As we roam, through the trees comes a familiar melody, she grips my hand and pulls it towards the sound. Nothing can prepare you for The Irrepressibles live show, and the depth of feeling that swells within you as the songs build, so to stumble upon a stripped down set on the Radio 3 stage is overwhelming, honestly. When they play 'In This Shirt' I'm crying and staring into the sky through the trees, I know there are no answers so I don't ask, all around people are wide eyed, still, staring, struggling to come to terms with the truth they are suddenly burdened or unburdened by. It is everything from Thursday on the lake and more, we find intimacy here, the sound is ours, it becomes a part of everyone watching, we take it with us when they finish playing, we'll carry that feeling somewhere in the recesses of our brain forever.

Hauschka prepares his piano further into the woods. Sounds you can't explain emerge from it, layers and patterns are presented for your brain to paint with, deeper and more resonant than on record. Like a good writer should, he takes the thoughts of strangers, and uses them to create something unique within each one. He plays songs from Abandoned Cities, stopping only to explain the metaphor, himself as the city, the loneliness of a creator, the performer, in pushing himself forward he has hollowed himself out. He has given himself to music and neither my respect or admiration seem to do that justice, we journey through his music alone in the crowd.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

The nature of a festival: You are broken out of your bliss as soon as you've found it. The man's t-shirt says 'gone fisting', he wears it with a smile, his wife walks behind him apologetically. You become aware you are surrounded by middle class men who hate their kids. Striving to break free from the life they made for themselves. 'I mean the little fucker is three years old now and he's bitch slapping my face...'. Bro-culture is ruining them, the one-upmanship makes 'too much' an inevitability, meaning that even when they try to be free on weekends like this they'll never be happy, 'Get it down you, you fuckin' pussy', they force each other on. I realise that, like how poisonous tree frogs are bright colours, tribal tattoos are natures way of determining who to avoid. Sitting, waiting for Jungle to come onstage it strikes me that most of their fans are the worst, teen hype chasers and lad geezer types. Anyone who can approach music without need for any type of feeling or emotional engagement. It's all glitter paint and aviators slapped onto bald heads, Burtons t-shirts with place names they've never been to, stone washed denim, and leather skin.

Jungle do the song that they do, they do it well, but what they do is an exercise in their production skills, their technical knowledge, rather than any on-stage charisma. Their sound is a jigsaw puzzle of misappropriated influences, like they took a few long words from the dictionary, practiced until they pronounced them perfectly, and passed them off as their own vocabulary. Like Mark Ronson (or to a certain extent, Dangermouse) it is peer group pop music, for people that don't care enough to invest, who don't want to think about it or be challenged. Every aspect is polished and refined, until it ends up saying nothing at all.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

Inspired to do anything but see another band I'm found listening to a lady tell her life story in a big empty tent, we find another tent and join a wine tasting, listening to how chateauneuf du pape has traded on its name for years. The wines all taste of glass so we sit amongst the trees and reconnect, as the longest queue snakes past us waiting for something called Tim Key. The quiet moments are important, because even with friends, you can really only fly solo when you're amongst all of the noise.

Bombay Bicycle Club take to the main stage. A man in a Jack Wills t-shirt does some dad dancing, a girl says "This is my favourite ever song" excitedly, before singing the wrong words. Like Jungle they don't really have anything to say, I can tell you some song titles, but not what they are singing about. Bombay Bicycle Club deserve credit for at least being prolific, it's just as a band/bland/brand, I don't understand what they are for. I guess these are the type of bands that we deserve, in the face of our apathy.

Near the back, people posture instead of dance. They force the pram halfway up her back to get past. They smile as they do it. Sorry. Not sorry. Kids scream. Fatigued. Crying at the point of joy. Let it go, as far from the real world as you'll ever get, you cry tears of unadulterated freedom, sponsored by Peugeot. A guy in fancy dress staggers past alone, ego bruised, seemingly ashamed of himself without his friends providing context. If we are to really let it go we need to have more pride, if that is the escape you are searching for, craving for, have the confidence to do it alone. There is nothing more upsetting than a human in need of validation to exist.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

The Radio 3 stage has sofas scattered in front of it, we get comfortable and wait for Mariam the Believer. She sings about the human condition, enunciating the words to make sure we hear them, almost preaching so we understand, her music building and flowing with the ideas as one. Flowing, exactly, to describe the sound as fluid, so in tune and skilled are these four expressive musicians that they become one inseparable thing. She sings about the human condition and her voice resonates every aspect of mine, her songs become blueprints for living, her happiness is pure. Love equals, becomes freedom, love conquers all.

As she sings I think of that Vonnegut quote:

"There's only one rule I know of babies, god damn it you've got to be kind."

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

Surviving the storm, sitting in the sun with the forecast of more rain, and frankly, enjoying the many levels of metaphor. The Sunday lunchtime slot at Latitude is usually a civilised affair, designed to ease you awake, but not this year. The music of William Onyeabor is ultimate party music, hyped up by Pat Mahoney's drums, Money Mark's infectious bouncing, and a revolving cast of musicians. Everyone watching dances, with varying degrees of success and rhythm, but everyone dances. It's a big shot of adrenaline for one more big push towards the finish, perfect for reviving tired bodies, it's easily the best thing to happen on the main stage and we're sad when it has to end.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

In the woods, an indecipherable voice yells from the crowd as Nils Frahm is talking.

What was that you said... space?




Oh! Bass, more or less?


OK then.

He builds layers with subtle differences in tone, he builds layers and skips between them, riffing on each for as long as he feels necessary, he builds layers and we stagger under the weight of it all, and when the crowd asks for bass he buries you under it. Nils Frahm is the most prodigiously talented piano player that you're likely to see on this circuit. Those in the woods for his set witnessed a virtuoso performance, their response was to treat it as such, each song greeted with rapture unseen elsewhere over the weekend.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

You try, but other music doesn't feel so good after that. You paint a naked lady in the literary tent whilst trying to think about books. You watch people collapse to a live jazz band. You find a quiet spot across the water where all the sounds and hollering blend into one. The kids throw sticks and chase each other. A synth build from over the hill sounds like a helicopter. You notice a guy chewing meat in time to a distant rhythm. A girl smokes and loses interest in being awake. This is it, the moment you came for, where everything crystallises into one glorious peak. Far away from the drudgery of modern life, or, as far away as you'll ever get. Everything becomes one perfect imperfection, your temporary delusion finds the reason hidden within in it all, all the trappings of your routine and your things dissipate. Or at least they should. Instead, kids march in packs, bemoaning something someone else said. Parents groan themselves upright. Their preparedness means moving is a military operation. Chair, blanket, wide rimmed hat, two bags, toddlers on ropes. The field is scattered with casualties. They recite adverts and chuckle to themselves. The share one thing in common: Regular concerns have been replaced with temporary ones. It's devastating. You will always be lost to nostalgia because only wearing your rose tinted glasses can you forget the bullshit reasons you are finding not to have fun in the present. You have to let these things go.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

I hear people cheering Parquet Courts and I question my resolve. Maybe my ears and brain have gone wrong, maybe I should stop writing about music because I'm fighting a losing battle. At the bottom of the hill, Woman's Hour are all in black and fit for the age, they're all dressed up with nothing to say. Everyone around me is talking over the music and focussing on their concerns. They're all aching shoulders and 'no more pints please I'm dying'. Nothing about the music will change anything about that or snap them out of it or drift them further away from it. It just goes by and it happens and we're all a little more beige because of it. They're a real critics band, written about because they fit into an idea of cool, because they sound ok as you sit and type alone and lose another night. Passing time with pointless, meaningless writing, whilst listening to pointless, meaningless bands. All I want is music that speaks to me. That says something. No more fucking bland.

Latitude Festival 2014: Disposable

At the other end of the scale there is The Fat White Family, who seem to only care about appearing not to care at all. There's a different energy in the tent before they go onstage, you can feel the expectation, as if the crowd know they're about to be snapped awake. The band blur past wild, a good old fashioned gang, all my words are bullshit in comparison. The best Ian Curtis impression, the best dancing with sweaty balls hanging out that I have ever seen. The music is a distraction from the spectacle, but the spectacle is something that no other band from the weekend have captured, but whether that's because they are unable or unwilling is another thing.

Security are still having a hard time dragging away members of The Fat White Family as Future Islands soundcheck, but that all becomes a sideshow once Samuel T Herring hits the stage.


Samuel is very right, very fucking right indeed. Future Islands are a band peaking, Singles is their masterpiece, the four of them are touring the world basking in it and we are blessed to be a part of it. These are things we know.

We are seeing Future Islands on their victory lap, everything they have dreamt about whilst slugging it out on the circuit is finally becoming reality, and because of that they will not fuck it up. These are things we know.

Most of the crowd were switched on to Future Islands by that Letterman performance, and yet these guys are not dancing clowns or performing monkeys, although that dance does happen a lot, there is so much more going here. So many levels are operating at once, a little maudlin goes a long way to create the perfect pop, and Future Islands are the perfect pop band, these are things we know.

What he harnesses when he sings, what stirs within us all as he does, is what we are too afraid or cannot say with words. This all-american, blue collar whirlwind, provides us all with an outlet, a legitimate way to release all the things that we can't let go. He dances, and we dance with him, and nothing else matters, a brief moment of freedom is created in the space left behind. These are the things that we know.

As the band pump out songs from Singles there is a steady stream of people rushing into the tent. I'm throwing shapes on the outside but inside I'm busy thinking - it's that type of music. We are living in a time where music doesn't sell like it used to. So there has never been a better time to be yourself, to do it your own way, on your own terms. Future Islands are proof of this. Bands that change their sound to chase after pop music so desperately are not only fake but fucking stupid. If only the most ardent of music fans are buying music, why would you smooth out all the things that make you stand out to them? Although we're told the lines of acceptance are getting closer together, that clearly isn't true, Future Islands are proof of this.

It's individuality that we love, that's why we're here dancing, because Samuel T Herring was different, on that television screen, that Youtube clip, that fucking meme, he dared to stand up and be himself, he dared to stand out. In his music he puts himself on the line, he wants to be counted, he wants you to feel it too, and as he performs you can't help yourself. Within the sound of it all you find that pride I was talking about, you want to stand up, puff out your chest, you want to be counted, you want to be brave, you want to be different, you want to just be yourself. You realise it's ok to be whatever the fuck it is that you are, you realise you can carry this feeling with you when you leave, you realise that with a few hard choices and then a few simple changes you can live your life without that need for escape, you realise that you can live free. I've seen Future Islands, I have proof of that, these are things that I know.