Latitude Festival - Friday Day 1 Bands Watched = Kissaway Trail, Yuck, Tokyo Police Club, Spoon, The Feeling, The National Highlight = The National Down Point = Enjoying The Feeling's cover of Video Killed the Radio Star
For Saturday's review, look here For Sunday's review, look here If Glastonbury is the king of festivals, then Latitude must surely deserve the title of queen. In a world saturated with festivals, Latitude emerges as a Festival dedicated to diversity and its creation of a civilized atmosphere. Despite having recently been featured in the media for all he wrong reasons, Latitude 2010 returns for its fifth year with an even bigger emphasis on being 'more than just a music festival'. 3794892037_4aa4b7b38a_o Obelisk Arena - Photo by John Williams
I couldn’t have asked for a better opening experience to latitude than Post Rock poster boys The Kissaway Trail. The Danish six piece successfully proved to defy the ultimate Post Rock faux pas, by mastering putting lyrics to ambient music. The band has managed to create a surprisingly unique sound considering the stale, repetitive genre in which they are often pigeon-holed; their live sound, identified by powerful distorted guitar riffs and lush vocal harmonies typifies their fusing of ambient elements with more straight forward indie-rock. Whilst Arcade Fire comparisons are maybe obvious, the band manage to create a more seamless, fluid set with each song a logical step from the previous. On top of such an individual sound, the band is also lucky enough, in a typical Scandinavian way, to look effortlessly cool whilst creating it - surely only a Scandinavian band could get away with wearing sunglasses and smoking whilst sound-checking. As someone near me said, ‘it’s not just Bacon Denmark is good for', and they couldn't have been more right. 4799605598_ff765f5efb Kissaway Trail @ Latitude - Photo by Nick Pickles
In an attempt to defy the pessimistic weather forecast, it seemed only right to make the most of the glorious sunshine. Sitting on the sundrenched slope adjacent to the latitude's famous Lake London-based Yuck provided the perfect compliment to the alluring weather. Their upbeat fuzz-pop, as derivative of the C86 bands as it may be, proved to be the ideal background music (I guess they call it ‘sunshine pop’ for a reason). This said, their unengaging, stagnant performance did not help to enthuse the lethargic audience and bystanders. Their music might evoke the classic era-defining lo-fi bands of the 80’s, but the overall experience did little to inspire the same reaction. 4800667488_a34126d791_b Crowd @ Lake Stage - Photo by Marc Sethi
Following my moment of sun-related narcsissism, I took it upon myself to cover from the blazing sun and head to the shelter of the woods. Tucked away amongst winding paths, assiduous instillation artists and dense, abounding pine trees, is the quaint if rather modest ‘Sunrise Arena’. Inside the optimistically named tent, Canadian four piece Tokyo Police Club could be hears playing their brand of forceful, frantic indie rock. Riding heavily on the success of their unexpected hit album Elephant Shell, T.P.C appeased fans with an energetic rendition of their previous two albums. Their performance however was ultimately plagued by what felt like colourless indifference, poor stage sound and an announcement that they had just 2 hours to catch a boat - not even the allure of ‘new songs’ could sway the undiscerning listener.  The set itself however, was fairly enjoyable (if not fairly unremarkable) and the music was lively enough to make the young crowd dance. 3327546798_91056693ca_o Tokyo Police Club
A similar feeling of indifference was felt after the lengthy trip to the main stage to watch the end of Spoon’s dull, monotonous set. It’s always a shame to watch an above average band play a disappointingly below average festival set; but then again any music that forces the audience to gently tap their proverbial feet is always going to make for boring Festival music. To give credit to the Texan 4 piece, their performance certainly wasn’t helped by the weak, indistinct sound on the big overshadowing stage. Upon my journey back to the tent, I managed to ‘stumble’ across special guests The Feeling and a surprisingly enjoyable finale rendition of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, leading me to question why I had previously disregarded the band... Spoon performing at the Latitude festival, Henham Park, Suffolk Spoon @ Latitude - Photo by Dan Griffiths
A highlight is typically a ‘retrospective act of prominence made with careful consideration after the festival’, yet as soon as The National emerged onto the sombre dimly-lit stage, it was clear that they would be the main feature of Friday. Indeed, The National have everything needed to make up the ‘ultimate Festival band’; an eclectic, accomplished back catalogue, an impressive live performance as well as a perceptual stage presence. The critically-lauded Brooklyn five piece, joined on stage by two brass players, played a selection of songs from their previous three albums - all successfully adapted to create a grand impassioned sound. In true Arcade Fire style, the songs were complimented by intense crescendos, dense instrumentation and a forceful stage presence. In a world practically devoid of true indie frontmen, it is refreshing to watch singer Matt Berninger create such a commanding, enigmatic persona; few could get away with playing the entire set without talking or acknowledging the stupefied audience, as well as screaming in certain sections of set. Despite The National being able to simply rely on the accomplishment of several fantastic albums, it is refreshing to see a band put on a set that is so genuinely stimulating and enjoyable - not to mention a fine end to day one of Latitude. 4812918282_a5d9201655_b The National @ Latitude - Photo Rob Evans