It’s time, once again, for Dork to return to deep, rural Suffolk for Latitude. Deap Vally are one of the first bands to blow the cobwebs off Henham Park, and their dangerously cutting sound is still as sharp as ever. Every pounding beat resonates far across the site from the BBC tent; the perfect antidote to the lounging vibes that appear to have a grip over the crowd.
“Fuck EasyJet!” Hinds have something to get off their chest with their early-afternoon set. Joyously bounding through with a supreme vigour, they feel criminally underrated in every way.
There’s undoubtedly something captivating about Sorry over on the Lake Stage. The melancholic nature of their sound, which melds with a more jarring and rampant distortion, creates a unique beast and should soon see them catapulted up any billing.
The first of this year’s headliners, Solange’s stylistic R’n’B is a sight to behold, punctuating the closing evening with choreographed dance moves. Echoing around the Obelisk Arena with the air and grace of a veteran pop artist, the entire vision translates perfectly, even if the arena is only half full.
The BBC tent meanwhile is overflowing for the sounds of James. Cracking out a one-two finale of mega-hits ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Laid’, sometimes the Latitude crowd evidently just wants ‘90s bangers.
Bloxx ravage where they see fit and the Saturday early-afternoon Lake Stage onlookers are their newest victims. Bounding through a melodic onslaught, with ‘Coke’ sounding like a dreamscape befit of the idyllic surroundings, Bloxx’s crowd swiftly grows as their inescapable sounds carry through Latitude.
Alvvays‘ light, yet brooding melodies are the perfect remedy for those seeking shade in the shelter of the BBC tent. Fiercely focused, the echoing trails of sweetness bring a deliverance of their own, holding nothing back, leaving a moment to be cherished.
A slightly different story is happening elsewhere, however. Gloriously shambolic, and brimming with energy Parquet Courts bring their latest album ‘Wide Awake!’ to life over on the Obelisk Arena. In a live setting, Parquet Courts bring across a far more determined sound, forever flirting with the whole thing falling in on itself – or just straight up demolishing the surrounding bleachers.
After a lot of speculation regarding the secret set, it turns out Liam Gallagher loves a bit of Suffolk this time of year. Treating the rapidly growing crowd to a bunch of Oasis classics, and a smattering of solo material (we’ll leave it to your imagination which went down better), it’s a tasty little triumph for the Gallagher brother intent on appearing everywhere and anywhere.
While mayhem may have broken out over on the BBC tent for the secret set, the Lake Stage is busy succumbing to the good times of Boy Azooga, who are smoothly plying the crowd with a thick helping of grooving indie jams.
Even though frontman Justin Young’s voice is broken, The Vaccines still crack out a hell of a performance in the Obelisk Arena. Justin’s wry, knowing looks out amongst the crowd, the instantaneous singalong of big hitters like ‘Norgaard’, ‘If You Wanna’ and ‘Post Break Up Sex’ – it has all the makings of cementing The Vaccines as an undeniably a great band. They sneak on through with bangers that are instantly recognisable and garner a reaction worthy of a headline act. Leaving the sounds of ‘I Can’t Quit’ echoing around Henham Park, The Vaccines came, they saw, and definitely conquered with enviable confidence.
The Killers are great, aren’t they? At this point, even with only 50% of the band in tow, you’re guaranteed a good time, and tonight they’re bringing even more to this fervent Latitude headline slot. Swaggering to life with ‘The Man’, it’s a pretty much non-stop bombardment of bangers and confetti. Popping b-side classic ‘Shot At The Night’ into the mix is a particular highlight, with its mega-euphoric chorus – and lasers. Duh.
It’s not long before LG himself saunters onto the stage during a brief respite while The Killers wait for the crowd-sourced drummer to take part in ‘Reasons Unknown’. Not singing anything, more of an ‘I’m still here!’ appearance, he pays Brandon his dues, reminds us that he “doesn’t know any lyrics, but luckily this hero does” and then he disappears into the night.
If that wasn’t enough quasi-Oasis action, Brandon introduces the next song as “the greatest B-side of all time”, which is, of course, ‘Acquiesce’. Still a little bit of hope for LG to appear but alas, that’s enough for today.
Winding up the set with a rambunctious ‘When You Were Young’, into ‘Humans’ and then finally topping it off with the Thin White Duke remix of ‘Mr Brightside’, there’s no mistaking that The Killers are a headline band in the strongest sense of the term. A redundant statement, maybe, but they treat every crowd, from Glastonbury to Latitude and all the smaller stages in between, like it’s their last show. Brandon isn’t just a frontman, he’s a showman, and one of the greatest we have.
The final day of Latitude gets off to a blistering start with the sun holding a vendetta against Suffolk. Black Honey are first up to pick the waning crowds up and shake off any third-day hangovers. Cracking out latest single ‘I Only Hurt The Ones I Love’, which is sounding utterly rampant, makes quick work of the task at hand. ‘Bad Friends’, with its departure from the usual Black Honey sound takes on a whole new life live.
Fickle Friends arrived on a perfect day for their ascension from Lake Stage two years ago, to Obelisk dominators today. Their banger-filled sound swiftly makes neat work of the lagging crowd, and it’s impossible not get caught up in the smooth summery grooves, helped in part by the palm trees decorated about the stage. With such thick dosing of melody and good feelings, Fickle Friends are the ultimate festival band.
There are few bands who can disturb the dusty ground of Latitude quite like IDLES. Swiftly causing riots, nothing is off limits. From descending into the crowd and returning with two onlookers in tow, to a spontaneous rendition of a Christmas classic, IDLES are five individual fireworks that are all lit up at once and cause as much joy and noise as possible. What’s remarkable is their ability to use their platform for good. Songs about the sanctity of the NHS and mental health acceptance in men, they even to provide two audience members with the news of the sex of their unborn child – a ritual Joe doesn’t quite agree with, given the stereotypical colours, but recognises it’s all a “visual ceremony”. So there we go.
Elsewhere, Wolf Alice are having a cracking year. They’ve played some of the biggest stages that bands can currently play in support of Foo Fighters et al., and this afternoon at Latitude it shows. Every moment is mined for that raw feeling – the unleashed energy of ‘Yuk Foo’ is entirely palpable, while the delicate moments, such as ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, translate effortlessly.
The final headliners of this year’s iteration of Latitude, Alt-J are no strangers to these grounds. Marking their fourth appearance with a headline set that’s proof they’ve made quick work of going from Lake Stage favourites to headlining not once, but twice. As the dripping lights fall about the stage, silhouetting the trio, everything comes together to give birth to a moment that immortalises Alt-J as undoubtedly one of the most interesting, and ambitious modern bands.
It’s clear that Alt-J have come out no holds barred, as they shake, rattle and roll through every haunting moment that they so easily conjure. The preying ferocity of ‘Every Other Freckle’ strikes out through the night, as an aptly positioned Venus lurks overhead, feeling like a special guest for the moment. Closing out with ‘Breezeblocks’ cements Alt-J as a Latitude institution and a force to be reckoned with.
Words: Steven Loftin