As you know I’ve become quite a regular at Latitude Festival in Suffolk over the past few years. One of my favourite places on earth, after the first year I went, in 2012 I knew I’d have to return every year. This was my 6th consecutive visit.
I advise here that you read my previous Latitude post ‘Festival of Fairytales’ (if you’re interested of course) because to save me going over old ground and you getting bored this post will be primarily access updates, highlights and a lot of pretty photos. Just so you know! So to get the complete feel of Latitude Festival, both posts should be enjoyed, in order of course. Why would anyone read anything out of order anyway?! This annoys me with books.
I have to say the layout and accessibility was pretty much the same as in last years post. The drive in was still very bumpy, I was required to drive over many fields just to arrive at the place I’ve always parked, and which is much closer to another entrance (of which I exited last year with permission, but not this year). I raised this access issue via email last year but never got a response. I endeavour to contact them again!
The main improvements access wise this year were –
One, remember when I said about the oneway system for exiting the arena on foot at the end of the night? Well this is still in place, however I (and I assume others having wheels) was allowed to head toward the incoming current (of very few people) with the assistance of a steward, who walked us back the way we came that morning, until we reached the campsites, where she left us to easily navigate our way back to the car.
Two, I don’t know if this was a changed policy or the stewards were just extra friendly (and will now loose their jobs) but my PA was allowed to use the accessible toilets near the platforms, therefor not requiring her to leave me for up to 30 minutes, walk to the general loos and queue.
Latitude is a festival of diversity. I mean this in way of entertainment and attendees. A field full of all kinds of people. Everybody is so different yet nobody stands out. Ok when I say nobody I don’t include the extremely drunk man dancing on his own that you find at every festival. Lost in the moment. And probably lost in the field!
I split my day evenly between comedy and music, with a dash of ballet in-between. Of course I also did lots of exploring, there is so much to see and discover. I schedule ‘wandering’ into my plan. As it can take me a while to get from stage to stage, I may as well make use of this time and go a certain way to discover and peruse something new.
Like a mini restaurant in the forest, ‘coffee/dancing/bacon’, or stranded piano left for people to play.
On one of our wanders we came across an art installation of sorts where strings were hung up, upon which you were invited to tie a label, writing ‘what is home’ to you. There were also headphones with soundtracks of people speaking, in various UK accents, about their memories of home.
Music is only a small aspect of Latitude Festival for me, I don’t come for the headliners, I’d probably still go if there wasn’t a headliner! Although it is nice to have a climax to the day. If I had more time I’d like to visit all the stages/tents (there are at least 14!).
Here, in no particular order are the acts I saw.
Suzi Ruffell compares being on a relationship ‘break’ to the time between Christmas and New Year. How you don’t quite know what to do, there are no rules, and mostly you just drink alcohol.
I have totally re fallen in love with Seann Walsh, I’ve seen him a couple of times previously but he is always someone I forget how utterly hilarious they are until I next see them, then I’m like yes! This is the comedy I love!
Seann perfects in observational comedy, which is something I find easy to relate to. This was a nostalgic performance. Looking back at the good old days of limewire and video shops. He rants about how he is perplexed by this modern era of bread avoidance, cucumber in water, courgetti and that he can no longer go to a cafe and order tea without being asked which tea? Tea, you know, tea, tea, TEA! Probably because Seann and I are of a similar age (both born in ’85) I found this extremely amusing.
Likening Latitude Festival to a Jeremy Corbyn theme park, Seann laughed at how out of place he felt, and that us as an audience probably did have bread phobias and eat courgetti. I personally love courgetti and bread!
He describes his own festival experiences as him and his friends mostly being ‘I’m going for a wee are you coming or staying here? Coming? Staying here? What are you doing? Staying here?’
Dara O’Briain discussed middle-class parenting. Saying that one of the weirdest things about having children is writing a thank you letter to a child that can’t read from a child that can’t write!
Although I didn’t have an issue with seeing any of the comedy, as Dara is quite a well known name the accessible viewing platform was rather full. I arrived about 20 minutes before Dara was due on stage, so another act was then about to finish. The viewing platform was full and nobody was being allowed on. Luckily when the previous act finished a couple of people left, meaning that I could get on to the platform with my PA. However it was extremely cramped, and I could see other wheelers that missed out and couldn’t board. This issue often arises in comedy tents at festivals, comedy is more popular than the organisers prepare for, and the viewing platforms need to be made bigger!
In between the comedy I thought I’d go see a bit of ballet. Get all cultured!
BalletBoyz: Life. Was an all male ballet group performing on the enchanting Waterfront stage, a stage on the water! Dressed in what I’d describe as schoolboy Edwardian style suits, all but one of the dancers had huge furry rabbit/hare heads on, reminding me both of Lewis Carroll and the Donnie Darko bunny!
The performance was haunting, tense and surreal. I have to admit at the time I didn’t really have a clue what it was about, other than a feeling of conflict. I later read that it tells the dynamic of loneliness and the power of the group.
For a mid afternoon chill out we watched Mystery Jets, an indie rock band with some mellow yet catchy tunes. For this performance I sat up on the accessible viewing platform, a raised and ramped area so that wheelers get a good view of the stage without people standing in front of them.
In the right hand corner of this platform was something I’ve never seen before. A TV. Yes I’ve seen a TV before but not at a festival with a lady on it signing along to the songs!
She was either a Mystery Jets fan or super practiced and super fast. Although I couldn’t actually tell you that she was signing the correct signs for the words, but she was having a grand old time and I became transfixed watching this lady more than I was the band! The signer was also shown in the corner of a screen beside the stage for everyone to see. How brilliant is this for accessibility improvements! (Another sign language interpreter was in the comedy tent on stage during Dara).
My chosen warm up act of the night, to watch while eating my stone baked pizza dinner, was Goldfrapp. An electronic duo with a diva on vocals. Amazing stage presence for just two little people, Alison blared out their hit ‘Ooh La La’ as the sun started to set.
As is often the case with festivals and line up clashes, I couldn’t decide on a finale. Both headlining bands I wanted to see, one I already had a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed. I decided to have a bit of both. You can have the best of both worlds! I’m glad I did. The two bands were equally mind blowing and entertaining but in completely different ways.
I started with The 1975, relatively new (to me anyway) with their mass teen following, electro-pop, they were like rockstars, it was like seeing some of the classics, Matt Healy owned that stage, tattoos exposed and cigarette in hand.
Wishing I could watch the rest of their set, but also not wanting to miss the opportunity to see a band I knew I loved live, I moved to the BBC Music Stage (tent), to rock out to the remaining half of Placebo, an alternative rock band formed in the 90’s.
It was a mixture of tunes I hadn’t heard before and nostalgic songs that took me back to my teens! The smaller stage and enclosed area the tent created really added to the atmosphere.
Leaving the main arena you could hear sounds in all directions, there was still plenty going on, and would be well into the night.
You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you, I picked you out, I shook you up, and turned you around, turned you into someone new,
Now five years later on you’ve got the world at your feet, success has been so easy for you, but don’t forget it’s me who put you where you are now, and I can put you back down too.
Don’t. Don’t you want me? You know I can’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me. Don’t. Don’t you want me? You know I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t need me.
It’s much too late to find, when you think you’ve changed your mind, you’d better change it back or we will both be sorry
Don’t you want me, baby? Don’t you want me? Oh! Don’t you want me, baby? Don’t you want me? Oh!
I hope that you’ve been singing along too!
Once over the bridge heading for the exit I remember how beautiful Solas is a night as I see a peek of it in the distance. Solas is relatively new to Latitude as far as I know, I only discovered it last year anyway! Its like another world, one of the most magical spaces at Latitude, I know I’ve said it before but its like a fairytale.
Ill leave you with some photographs that don’t nearly encapsulate the experience. But its as good as you’re going to get unless you get yourselves down (or up) to Latitude Festival next year!