The grass is green, the toilets are clean, but the sounds being made are far from sweet. Henham Park, Southwod, Suffolk (July 18 – 20)
With families enjoying poetry, dance and theatre on a beautiful riverbank site, Latitude festival could be Albion if only they sold smack-filled crêpes. Unlike Reading, there’s no litter, no drug casualties and only good, solid stools on display in the toilets. Yet, as a thinking person’s event, it’s neurotic about lacking an edge, resulting in desperately lurid sights like, in the spoken word tent, an author reading his story, Motherfucker, to the sound of crying children. Musically, gentility and grotesquery also clash.
Friday in the Uncut tent sees Black Kids blowing up a party bomb and Howling Bells’ broodings flailing in its aftershock. Crystal Castles scare Mother Nature barren on the Sunrise Arena, while elsewhere Death Cab For Cutie oddly pull cock-rock shapes. Headliners Franz Ferdinand play the hits early, then showcase their new disco songs – which sound great, but no bugger knows them, so it’s a shrug-off. Magistrates’ ’80s pop and Golden Silvers’ psych-funk are perfect for a sunny Saturday, but Sigur Rós bemuse. People lie down to let the music drift over them, but Metronomy nearby makes brain music seem shallow next to mindless fun.
If Joanna Newsom vomited on our faces we’d rub it in like cocoa butter – that’s how lovely this dreamy harp maiden is. Foals are great, with Yannis, fresh from the Okereke Vs Lydon scrap, dedicating a furious ‘Cassius’ to the Rotten icon. Eden now has an edge. Midnight Juggernauts celebrate with a pagan goth-dance in the woods, before Grinderman provide the highlight of the weekend, smearing faces with their horny guts. In the headline slot, meanwhile, Paul Banks from Interpol is Eddie Hitler from Bottom, but only Carlos D’s Ministry of Silly Bass Moves amuses. The overblown ‘Our Love To Admire’’s moments fail to engage, the rain falls and the crowd disperses. Next year: more musical thrills, please. And cherry-scented loo roll, not lavender…