So, fantastic news! I won an Ideastap competition, in association with Culture Works, to write with DIY magazine at Latitude Festival. Amazing! It was a great experience working in the Press Tent and freely wandering around backstage. I’ve collected all my writing from the festival below. I’ve also written an interview with The Bohicas which will be appearing online soon.
FAT WHITE FAMILY
No need to be alarmed, that’s not a flasher in the woods. That’s just Fat White Family. Before the set has even started the trousers are off and a full moon is out.
Lias Saoudi swaggers to the stage, “We’re dedicating this set to Pete, our sound man who’s been exiled to Spain.” Sentiment over, let the debauchery commence, arms stretched out confronting the crowd with a smirk and with a whiskey bottle held high like a relic.
One song in and one of the family has already plunged into the crowd, boxers on, thankfully. ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’ stirs a frenzy in the tent and the persistent “five sweaty fingers on the dashboard” become the set’s slogan.
Saoudi is chanting the chaotic chorus of ‘Auto Neutron’, while his free hand is exploring what’s underneath his skinny jeans. This may be a family festival, but be advised don’t bring your mum. Guitarist Saul Adamczewski boots bass player Joseph Pancucci in the back and the pair share a very real flicker of tension. But it quickly resolves over a cigarette and back to sickening set.
Clothes and alcohol are both rapidly disappearing. The band become a confusing, musky mess of flailing limbs, sweat and cigarette smoke in ‘Touch the Leather’.
Fat White Family are the Jackass of the music scene, their Latitude set is a collection of revolting internet videos you’re too curiously enraptured by to look away.
ATOMIC BOMB! WHO IS WILLIAM ONYEABOR?
Who is William Onyeabor? We’re eagerly awaiting the answer from the celebrated supergroup. and when a total of three percussionists start up proceedings, it’s clear that the Atomic Bomb is about to drop in a big way.
Beastie Boys’ Money Mark is buzzing around his synths, tiny keyboard in hand, swinging his legs off the stage like a giddy schoolboy. Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside appears for joyous ‘Heaven and Hell’ dressed up like a Texas businessman with white stetson, shirt, tie, and shorts.
“We’re going to bring a party to you guys, are you ready to party?” they shout; the mysterious Nigerian musician has a lot of totally tropical party vibes on offer. The crowd is suddenly scattered with swaying bodies, a stream of people performing the ‘shimmy to the stage, hands full of cider boogie’.
Staying to true to the ominous Onyeabor, african rhythms bump and chime through the animated set. Cowbells are popping and tambourines shaking as the loveable Mahotella Queens own the Obelisk, shimmying in traditional skirts and braids with contagious giant grins.
For ‘Fantastic Man’ the stage is brimming with beaming faces and an infectious atmosphere, and it doesn’t matter if Sikane’s lyrics float away in the afternoon breeze. Who needs words when you’re having this much fun?
Young Fathers join the party and begin a rowdy chant of “William, where are you?” before Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor leads the final singalong and the rest of band, twenty-one and counting, clamber on the stage, wringing out every precious second of their time. William Onyeabor may remain an enigma, but every festival needs the Atomic Bomb.
The tranquility of the Lake Stage is shattered, ripped to shreds and booted in the nethers by the shiny black brogues of the four men in black. The Bohicas mean business.
Crashing into ‘Where You At’ paves the way for a relentless set. The persistent wave of psychedelic guitar and Beatles-inspired harmonies quickly draws an eager crowd. Ferocious chants and gritty lyrics set the intense pace. Extra points go to singer, Dominic McGuinness, who somehow pulls off a few of the Fonz’s moves, a casual point and a “well alrighhht” to the crowd.
It’s hot, the kid’s have had their fizzy pop and a mosh pit suddenly disperses the ever-growing crowd. The band, a vision of sweaty, skinny-jeaned chaos, share excited glances at the scene that’s broken out in front of them.
Requests in the crowd for the recent double A-side ‘XXX’ are finally granted, McGuinness and co. break into a surge of crashing symbols and sleek, scaling guitar riffs. ‘Swarm’ ends with a hot mess of wailing riffs and bellowing chorus, The Bohicas will swagger away from Latitude with a spring in their step and a few extra fans under their skinny, leather belts.
FIRST AID KIT
There’s something magical in the simplicity of First Aid Kit. Telling it like it is with tribal drums and powerful harmonies for ‘Stay Gold’, they’ve abandoned their folk fashion in favour of shimmering dresses.
“We just can’t stop ourselves from coming back!” says Johanna Söderberg, Latitude is the perfect setting for their picturesque brand of folk pop. For ‘King of the World’ she springs around stage, a vision of golden waves and gold heels swirling the stage.
Since 2012, the last time the sisters were here, there’s a new found confidence within the pair. Where folk singing siblings once stood, a glamorous polished duo return. Their set plays out like a love letter to their idols with glittering tributes to the likes of Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan.
‘Waitress Song’ is a beautiful mix of Klara’s quiet folk melancholy and a momentous deluge of sound that plunges into the crowd as they sing together. The first majestic notes of ‘Silver Lining’ bring us grass-grazers to our feet. As the sun begins its slow descent, the mystical ‘Wolfmother’ sets a picturesque scene.
Elsewhere, the duo could rouse a hoedown in this very english setting, with the country rhythms of ‘Heaven Knows’, before the quivers of the pedal steel on ‘Emmylou’ ends in a warm-hearted sing-a-long.
Johanna’s childish giddiness spreads infectiously through the crowd with shouts of “We’re really excited about the new album, this is the first with an explicit content sticker. We’re badass now!”
Throughout each of their times appearing at Latitude, the Swedish sisters have offered their mix of honeyed harmonies and unique Americana with all the right flourishes, but this time, there’s an extra preen and polish to their performance. Maybe with an extra few naughty words thrown in for good measure; to that we say, “tak, First Aid Kit!”
With all the glamour of a silent movie star, Anna Calvi is well and truly breaking the silence with her signature power chorus of ‘Eliza’ set against cinematic backlights at Latitude’s BBC Radio 6Music Stage. ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ rages through the tent and exposes a history of influences, PJ Harvey and Patti Smith, peeking through the red-soaked stage.
Performing a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde routine, she switches from sultry classic tones to powerful rock wails. Set against glittering lights, she crashes into an effortless guitar solo, shooting the crowd a ‘don’t mess with me’ dirty scowl.
‘Blackout’ bursts from the stage with bucketfuls of grit and stunning intensity. There’s an entire performance behind those eyes, and a whole epic saga in her writing, flawlessly retold on stage. Here’s someone that belts a tune, kills it on guitar and makes everyone want to be her.
Tonight sees Mogwai headline the BBC Radio 6 Music stage on the first night of Latitude 2014. Before taking the stage told DIY about the band’s year so far.
“The reaction for the new album has been great,” he said. “Really great, in Britain especially. We’re having a good year. I think The Returned TV show [that Mogwai soundtracked] really helped us out a lot.
“It’s funny,” he continued, “because you don’t know if it’s going to turn out that well or if people are going to watch it. They just asked really nicely, it looked like a cool project. But you can do something you think is really cool and not make much impact.”
Speaking about tonight’s set, Braithwaite explained: “We’ve got a lot of lights, we don’t really move about too much, so the lights are really important. People who come and see us just want to hear the music. I think the music is the connecting factor, it’s a bit hippy-dippy but I think that’s it, that’s how it works.”
“I’m a notorious crowd watcher,” he went on to reveal “I always notice the little details, things people are doing. I turn to the rest of the band, ‘Did you see that?’ I’ve seen lots of weird stuff. Like strange dancing, people getting amorous sometimes.”
As for the band’s future plans, Braithwaite seems ready for a stint on the road. “We’re playing Belgium tomorrow,” he listed, “we’re doing a charity gig in London a week on Tuesday, Glasgow in August. Then we’re doing some other towns in October, like Liverpool, Rotherham, Aberdeen – the glamour tour!”
Written for DIY magazine online. All photographs from DIY’s team.