Monday, 22 July 2013

Overheard at Latitude

We've just got back from the Latitude Festival in Southwold, Suffolk (yes, I had to look it up too).  Latitude was the first proper festival that either Kate or myself have been to, having previously only been to one-day affairs such as Radio 1's Hackney Weekend.  We figured that with the big 3-0 fast approaching it was high time we crossed this off from the life "to do" list and spent some time slumming it in a field.  Within reason, of course.

We chose Latitude mainly because of the wide variety of entertainment on offer, particularly the comedy.  As we're not going to the Edinburgh Fringe this year we thought it would make a nice substitute.  We're also middle class Guardian-reading north-Londoners so it's pretty much the law that we go to Latitude at some point.  We also chose to stay at the Pink Moon Camping enclosure on the site - not particularly out of a desire the avoid the masses but because we don't own a tent or sleeping bags, and buying them especially would cost a fair chunk of the fee we paid to stay there.  In that nice enclosure with its own toilets, showers and bar.  Mmmmm.
The Pink Moon campsite.  Hundreds of identical tents.  Good luck finding yours after 6 pints of Tuborg.

And guess what - we really enjoyed ourselves, despite the somewhat eccentric weather (scorching sun on Friday, cloud and showers on Saturday and somewhere in between on Sunday).  We loved the huge variety of events on offer and the type of music on offer on the big stages was more-or-less spot on for us.  Having seen a Reading and Leeds 2007 t-shirt while we were there, it could have been so much worse.  I think the 6 Music stage came off quite badly though, among others housing Texas, Rudimental and Disclosure over the weekend, none of whom I imagine trouble the radio station's playlist much.  But for us, the highlight had to be Pappy's, who as in Edinburgh last year stole the show for us with their effortless act.  Unlike many acts they had prepared a special show loosely based around "A Christmas Carol", with spot-on parodies of Florence (without her Machine), Kraftwerk and Daft Punk as the "ghosts".  There was also an amusing amount of scorn poured on the admittedly questionable decision to headline the first night with Bloc Party and the aforementioned Texas, neither of whom are really in their prime.  As Pappy's pointed out, "who's booking this festival, Chris Evans?  Look out for the Ocean Colour Scene secret gig at the i Arena tomorrow!".

I'm not sure it's really a substitute for Edinburgh though, comedy-wise, given how you drift in and out of each of the performances and most of the comics aren't performing a show as such, just a few of their favourite routines to fill the slot.  The comedy arena is no way near big enough either - the moment someone even remotely popular was on you couldn't get near.  There's also the slightly odd decision to end the comedy programme at about 7pm each night to clear the arena for dancing later on - which means a genre mostly performed at night is pushed into random berths such as the literature tent after dark.

There are also two (or more) Latitudes.  There's the one that you'll read about in the Guardian and see on The Andrew Marr Show which is all very cultural and intellectual and so different to those other noisy festivals.  There's also the Latitude which is pretty much like any other festival, complete with people getting stupidly drunk and all sorts else.  I noticed the huge presence of children too.  Some really young ones with their parents, which should really know better carting their sleeping offspring around in little trolleys in order to see late night gigs, others a bit older  let off the leash for the first time pretending rather badly to be grown ups.  And standing around chatting during Kraftwerk, which was pretty damn annoying.  Kraftwerk were another highlight of the weekend - if not exactly the typical headliner - because of the quite impressive 3D effects behind the ground (and the equally impressive distribution of 3D glasses around the site on Saturday.  If you didn't have any you must have been under a rock all day).  Since the heady days of Children In Need 1993 I've experienced various attempts at 3D outside of Hollywood films and this was certainly one of the better ones.

But there was one thing we noticed.  Our positioning in the Pink Moon campsite, on the end of a row, meant we heard a lot of people chatting as they walked past, but usually only a sentence or two of conversations.  Some of these were bizarre to say the least.  Here's a selection with some others we heard around the festival site:

"I like to think of myself as an alcohologist"

"I actually think that not having sex with someone is more powerful than having sex with them"

(in the poshest female voice imaginable) "Find My Friends?  What's my Apple ID?!  Upper or lower case??!!"

"Look at the shower queue now.  Snoozers are losers"


"Order number 118, pick up your burger now or it's going in the bin"

"Is that the shower queue?  Let's just get in it, we'll only sit here talking about the shower queue otherwise"

"I HATE Blackpool"

"Did you snog him?" "I shagged him!"

"I'm talking about the prostitute killer of course, not the Radio 2 DJ"

And finally one we'll nick from Marcus Brigstocke, who said this is the most Latitudey thing he's ever heard said at the festival:

"Oh hi Nigel, anything happened to you lately?"
"No, not really.  Oh no hang on, I've been made chair of the Forestry Commission"