On Saturday morning, Latitude remained much as it had on Friday - the sun continued to shine, the countryside setting retained its scenic beauty and a full day of acts awaited. Latitude Festival - Saturday Day 2 Acts Watched = Active Child, School of Seven Bells, Rich Hall, Frightened Rabbit, Brett Easton Ellis, Crystal Castles, Belle and Sebastian Highlight = Crystal Castlesâ fighting performance. Down Point = Crystal Castlesâ musical performance.
For Friday's review, look here
For Sunday's review, look here
As is the charm of festivals, I was fortunate enough to stumble across the haunting, ethereal music of L.A based Active Child as I passed through the woods.Â For those as unfamiliar as I was, Active Child is the pseudonym of ex-Philadelphia Boys Choir singer Pat Grossy. Needless to say, this exotic past has clearly influenced his brand of dreamy-synthesis pop and quasi-religious themes. Joined on stage only by his laptop, harp and keyboard, Grossy is a true one-man band pioneering the âchoral disco-popâ genre (whether it takes off is another matter).
Latitude Site - Photo by Marc SethisÂ
By midday, I felt just about rejuvenated enough to watch another band unknown to me. In fact, prior to their set I knew of School of Seven Bells only as the âdream pop band with (remarkably good looking) identical twinsâ. It may be a clichÃ© to say, but the instant the New York three piece began their first song, a perceptible awe could be felt amongst the audience - an intensity the band maintained until the end. Their loud, powerful sound was perfectly complimented by the huge tent, magnifying the epic, grandiose sound they create. This said, their principal attraction was also their main shortcoming and by the third song, I was tired of the same My Bloody Valentine plagiarized synth leads, mid-tempo electronic-driven rhythms and mantra-like vocal formula that seemed to enslave their set. Admittedly, the genre might rely on being repetitive but surely not to the extent of being unable to distinguish between individual songs.
School of Seven Bells @ Word Arena - by Dan Griffiths
After a morning of âserious musicâ, it seemed only right but to take some time out and enjoy some comedy. As is the charm of Latitude Festival, the comedy line-up is equally as impressive as the music - a point demonstrated expertly by Anglo-American comedian Rich Hall. In a comedy-world saturated with cynicism, Rich Hall must surely deserve the title the of âCaptain Cynicalâ. Richâs deadpan, pessimistic view of the world may have elevated him to appearances on several popular prestigious comedy panel shows, but it certainly hasnât softened his views â a constant reminder to his street comedian past. Indeed, his razor-sharp wit and improvisation ensured that his set was without stale sounding jokes and routines, a usual shortcoming of touring comedians.
Rich Hall @ Comedy Tent - Photo by Lyndsey Brown
Prior to Latitude, I had mostly ignored my Scottish Ancestry, yet as soon as Frightened Rabbit ambled onto the dimly-lit stage, a pride previously unbeknownst to me welled up. During their lively performance, the Selkirk five-piece managed to create a remarkable intensity and confidence, providing one of the most convincing sets of the weekend. Most notably, the band successfully managed to adapt their previous two albums into an energetic, grandiose performance whilst still retaining their trademark folk tinge. Even the obligatory âArcade-Fireâ style end-of-set crescendo, seemed spontanious and exciting. Most refreshingly, the band shared a genuine sentiment of enjoyment to be playing at Latitude â evoking a similar feeling to someone saying they enjoy your birthday party.
Frightened Rabbit @ Latitude - Photo by Dan Griffiths
Nothing says âfestival experienceâ like indulgence in vice, so who better to watch than self proclaimed moralist and controversial novelist Bret Easton Ellis. My experience of the infamous Ellis proved to be a first. Prior to the festival, I had never encountered an author whose work I enjoy so much, fearing that their personality would tarnish my previous reading experience. It was lucky then, that the hungover Ellis easily lived up to expectations. His cagey, conceited outlook was a satisfying approximation of his infamous characters. Ellisâ refreshingly blunt and self-depreciative perspective certainly made for difficult interviewing for Miranda Sawyer but ultimately created a more interesting experience for the packed-out Literary tent audience. His rude and cynical outbursts at the questions posed by both audience and interviewer were genuinely amusing, ultimately providing just the right amount of bastard to do his protagonists justice.
Brett Easton Ellis @ Latitude
Crystal Castles are far from the typical band; In fact, they hold few of the conventions of any other Latitude band. For good or bad, their sound is probably best described as an irritating asexual girl screaming over glitchy electronica. Ignoring these perceived shortcomings, Crystal Castles were able to craft two effortlessly slick eponymous electro albums achieving both critical and audience acclaim. This in mind, it is such a shame (but perhaps expected) that the live show was such an astronomic shambles (and not even in the slacker-cool, nihilist kinda way). Not only was the music stale and almost entirely backing-tracked, the band also had huge technical problems to such an extent that not even the addition of a hairy, sweaty drummer could add any real interest.
It was just as well then that the otherwise banal butchery of a musical performance was decorated with some amusing female aggression. Dull music aside, there was nothing more entertaining than watching lead âsingerâ Alice Glass ignore her âsingingâ duties and repeatedly shouting, punching and kicking an unlucky member of the audience. Judging by the other band membersâ indifference, I would assume it was a regular occurrence but it made for an interesting interlude to the otherwise dull performance. Itâs a shame that the set will be remembered not for the music, but Alice Glassâ embarrassing freak-out.
Crystal Castles @ Latitude - Photo Ryan Mason
Belle and Sebastian are an unusual choice of headline band. Sure, their brand of wistful, chamber pop may be perfectly suited to Latitude's alternative ethos, but the Scottish seven piece isn't in theory as immediately stimulating as previous headliners Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros. Nevertheless, a large audience gathered expectantly to see the band's first gig in four years (even despite the programming mistake following Crystal Castles). Luckily, the band had clearly pulled out all the stops necessary for a memorable headline set; in fact they satisfied most of the usual requirements for a headline act including a complete string section, explosions of confetti and even an impromptu cover of Jumpin' Jack Flash. Needless to say, Belle and Sebastian had no problem providing a set of memorable songs - after all, the band has the benefit of having over seven albums of songs to choose from. The performance itself was slick and extremely competent, guided by frontman Stuart Murdochâs scottish charm and effortless audacity. The highlight of an otherwise flawless set was undoubtedly Murdochâs instruction to have 20 young audience members come onto the stage and dance during a slick and animated rendition of âThe Boy With the Arab Strapâ. Belle and Sebastianâs inspiring performance was easily enough to justify both their headline slot and âmessiahsâ of indie-pop status.
Belle and Sebastian @ Latitude - Photo Dan Griffiths
Latitude Festival - Day 2 // The 405 Review
On Saturday morning, Latitude remained much as it had on Friday - the sun continued to shine, the countryside setting retained its scenic beauty and a full day of acts awaited. Latitude Festival - Saturday Day 2 Acts Watched = Active Child, School of Seven Bells, Rich Hall, Frightened Rabbit, Brett Easton Ellis, Crystal Castles, Belle and Sebastian Highlight = Crystal Castlesâ fighting performance. Down Point = Crystal Castlesâ musical performance. For Friday's revie... (continued)
LatitudeActive ChildSchool Of Seven BellsRich HallFrightened RabbitBrett Easton EllisCrystal CastlesBelle And SebastianIndieFestivalSuffolkPopPost Rock.