Latitude Festival – 12th-15th July 2012
With Glastonbury having one of its ‘fallow years’ in 2012 our merry band of music lovers (ok…middle aged piss heads) was forced to find somewhere else to get our annual festival fix that summer. Glasto takes a break every 5 years or so to let the fields recover and to let the cows on Worthy Farm put their udders up for a bit. However another reason given for that year’s break was that there weren’t enough portaloos available to support both Glastonbury and the London 2012 Olympics! Regardless, we needed another festival to go to but which one…?
Download was considered to be a bit too ‘niche’ for us. T in the park a bit too far away (Scotland) and V Festival a bit shite. We also considered going to one of the European festivals for guaranteed hot weather but it felt like a bit of a mission to organise and one of us would probably die of heat exhaustion anyway.
Two of us had already tried Leeds Festival in 2005 and 2006 and, whilst we did have a great laugh and witnessed some cracking performances (Arcade Fire in the Radio 1 tent was the stuff of legend) it felt like we were partying in a creche most of the time and probably old enough to be the parents of about 90% of the audience – despite only being in our mid-30s ourselves at the time! So we ruled out Leeds (and Reading) for that reason.
Then, after reading some blurb on t’internet we convinced ourselves that Latitude Festival would be “the closest thing to Glastonbury” (albeit on a much smaller scale) and settled on a trip to the South-East for our festival frivolities that summer.
Set in the pleasant surroundings of Henham Park near Southwold, Suffolk Latitude could easily stake a claim to being the UK’s most picturesque festival. The grounds and lake are pretty stunning and with stages set up in the woods and multi coloured sheep grazing in the fields, what’s not to like? Well actually there was something we didn’t like very much…
With its arty-farty Radio 4 friendly poetry and literature stages Latitude festival was quite frankly a bit too posh for us philistines from the North-West and East Midlands! Yes that’s right, too POSH – all rather middle class and certainly not ‘edgy’ enough for those of us who had been hit with flying bottles of piss at Metal festivals in the ’80s or raved in the mud at some of Glasto’s crustier affairs in the ’90s. If Leeds Festival was the place for adolescent teenagers on laughing gas then Latitude is the place where their rich parents and Geography teachers hung out. There were certainly a few too many Tasha’s and Tarquins wandering around in wax jackets and Hunter wellies (aka. ‘Cunters’) for our liking!
Having said all that the lineup was pretty decent, the people were friendly and we still had an absolute ball – probably because we adapted our “attitude for Latitude” over the course of the weekend. We just decided “it is what it is” (but that’s enough Latitude platitudes… rolls eyes) and that we would just tolerate (or take the piss out of) the posh folk in the interests of having “a jolly good blaaaarst. What do you say Giles?”
The first thing we had to get used to was that, unlike Glastonbury the camping areas were actually outside the festival arenas so you couldn’t sit at the tent listening to bands and you had to queue to get back onsite each morning. A slight pain in the arse if you left your wallet back at the tent and had to go back for it! Secondly the size of the festival – we knew it wouldn’t be anywhere near as big as Glasto (the ‘daddy’ of all music festivals) but it did feel like you could walk around the entire site in less than 30 minutes – even in the mud. On the plus side this meant that you could get from one stage to another very quickly and, with only half a dozen music stages compared to the 50+ stages we’d become accustomed to at Worthy Farm this was never really going to be an issue.
The focal point of the festival is the Obelisk Arena – the main stage which was headlined in 2012 by Bon Iver, Elbow and Paul Weller over the 3 nights. Other highlights on this stage over the weekend were Janelle Monae, Richard Hawley, Simple Minds (even if Jim Kerr did get the audience to sing most of his songs for him), Bat for Lashes and Alabama Shakes. Looking back at the main stage lineup now I’m a bit gutted to have missed Michael Kiwanuka and Baxter Dury (Ian’s son) as I’ve since become a fan of both artists yet knew nothing of either of them back in 2012. No doubt we were at a bar sipping a (posh) G&T or some “bubbles darling” while they were on stage.
The second stage was actually a large tent called the Word Arena where White Lies, The Horrors and the Wild Beasts topped the bill. I am pretty sure we watched White Lies on the Friday night (and not Bon Iver) but we were definitely at the Obelisk on Saturday and Sunday nights so didn’t see the others. We did however catch Lloyd Cole, The War on Drugs, Lana Del Ray and The Antlers – hilariously dubbed “Th’Antlers” by a comedian in our group….for the entire weekend….and beyond. (“Th’Antlers were a bit good weren’t they mate?” “Yes mate – I’ll be looking out for Th’Antlers the next time they tour mate- wonder if they’ll come and play at Th’Rescue Rooms?”).
Other highlights from the weekend were…
Dermot O’Leary – yes, the TV presenter who took to the decks and played a blistering indie disco set up in the woods. He got our party started on the Thursday night.
Don’t Think – a film of the Chemical Brothers live show which was played in the indoor ‘Film and Music’ arena in the early hours of Saturday morning (it wasn’t quite the same as seeing them in the flesh at Glasto the previous year but still a great way to end the night)
Wooden Shjips – a psychedelic rock band from San Francisco who played the I Arena on Saturday – a great little stage under canvas in the woods (although a bit of a slippery uphill trek to get to in the mud after it had rained).
The Levellers – everyone’s favourite new age travellers who played a superb acoustic set in the woods on Sunday afternoon. “What a beautiful day… “ indeed it was.
So did we enjoy Latitude? “Yep – it was a bit of a blaaarst actually”
Would we go again? “Nah mate – a bit too far away, a bit too small, too family friendly and not nearly enough (Glasto style) weirdness going on. Oh and its a bit too bloody posh eh Tarkers… what, what?“
Some useful Latitude Links…
Clashfinder showing who was on and when in 2012
Reviews and photos on the excellent E-Festivals site
More stock photos over on Alamy
2013 – Back to Glasto!
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