Latitude 2018: Livewire's Preview
I’m just going to go ahead and say it. Latitude is Britain's most exciting festival. Despite first being held twelve years ago, Latitude still has somewhat of an ‘up-and-coming’ reputation. It’s because of this that it sometimes slips under the radar. But this year, the line-up is too darn good for that to happen. Livewire is here to take you through it.
Styled more like a European culture festival than your traditional ‘music and pint’ setup of many British ones, Latitude’s rural location of Suffolk’s Henham Park could be the reason why it’s been seen as unattainable for so long. Even so, the headliners of past festivals are certainly ones to write home about. With alumni consisting of Nick Cave, Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys, Franz Ferdinand, Suede, and Florence + the Machine, the festival is anything but short of world-class. Perhaps it was simply being raised in the midlands that kept me from Latitude for so long. Whatever the reason, this year, I finally get to go.
A combination of music, comedy, theatre, cabaret, politics, and more characterises the Suffolk-based festival. Headlining this year are Solange, The Killers, and Alt-J.
Solange Knowles is a concrete talent. Her reputation possibly precedes her, but we’re not going to talk about that today. Solange’s 2016 record A Seat at the Table showcases the Texan musician’s deep, soulful ability to masterfully construct songs from affecting beats and gospel hooks. Priding herself on emotive crooning and delicate songwriting, Solange’s music is inspired by Motown girl-groups from the 1960s and ‘70s funk. The lead single from A Seat at the Table won Solange the 2016 Grammy Award for ‘Best R&B Performance’; her first nomination and win. Through her many collaborations with a plethora of artists such as Sampha, Dirty Projectors, Kelela, Lil Wayne, and many more, Solange’s impressive back-catalogue of psychedelic soul, Motown-inspired modern pop, and electric R&B is strong as ever. A Seat at the Table is destined to bring some rhythm and soul to Latitude on the Friday night.
There’s been a trend in recent years of washed-up indie artists from the noughties headlining festivals just because they can. The Killers, however, are not one of those bands. New album Wonderful Wonderful boasted the poppy, synthy, and overall just fantastic lead single ‘The Man’, and that’s true of most of The Killers’ discography. Debut LP Hot Fuss is arguably one for the history books--with back to front classic bangers such as ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, ‘Somebody Told Me’, and ‘Jenny Was A Friend of Mine’, Hot Fuss was--and is--one of the strongest indie rock debuts of all time.
The Killers have managed to stay relevant all these years, releasing the adored, albeit bewildering, single ‘Human’ in 2008. The Killers have a special something, whether it be Brandon Flowers’ distinctive vocal, or his uncanny knack for writing a damn good pop song. Either way, The Killers’ first time headlining Latitude will, mark my words, be one that is adored.
Not their first time at the Henham Park rodeo, Alt-J are due to close the festival. Alt-J are known for their genre-bending and experimental pop, and their third album Relaxer was no different. With 16th-Century-inspired guitar sections, deep synths, and more murmured lyrics, the Leeds-based trio have captured the music world. Relaxer showcased the band’s distinctive sound once more, whilst also acting as an effective evolution for the band. Relaxer featured guest performances from Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell and Marika Hackman, alongside a cover of the classic folk track ‘House of the Rising Sun’; it really was a special album. With hits such as ‘Tesselate’, ‘Breezeblocks’, ‘Left Hand Free’, and ‘Every Other Freckle’ from previous releases This is All Yours and An Awesome Wave, Alt-J’s second headline slot at Latitude should be unmissable.
Speaking of Wolf Alice, the London-bred fourpiece are a live tour-de-force. The quartet seem to have had the year off thus far, but that’s far from the truth. After their fantastic second record VIsions of A Life was released in September, the band toured the UK, and haven’t stopped since. With only a few weeks off this February, Wolf Alice are booked up until October, and for good reason. Their fantastic mixture of ‘90s inspired shoegaze and grunge with tinges of modern electronica and experimental indie marks them out as, pardon the hyperbole, Britain’s most exciting new band. That’s not even a hyperbole, it’s just true. Wolf Alice are a band I’ve been following for years now, and I can’t wait to see where they get to. Perhaps, in an album or two, they’ll not only be headlining Latitude, but Glastonbury, as well.
Moving onto the smaller acts of the festival, Livewire favourite Superorganism are ones to watch. Their smart take on pop is simply unchallenged. Their self-titled debut album is an unprecedented achievement of crazy samples and infectious keyboard hooks. Superorganism are a bit of an enigma--compiled of eight members “and growing”, the multi-national collective spans continents and languages.
Based in London, however, the band are truly the first band of the internet age. Their very basis is rooted in emails, social media, and this is audible in their music. Their life does imitate their art, and vice versa. Never before have a musical project managed to sound like rainbow binary code come to life, and they’re without a doubt a band destined for greatness. Don’t take your eyes off them.
Superorganism are a special band, but so are Australia’s Confidence Man. Confidence Man are unrestricted by the concept of genre. Their sound is so unpinpointable, the best I can do is melodic, intelligent, glitchy pop. The band’s debut LP Confident Music for Confident People came out earlier this year, and its 11 songs are brilliantly mismatched. It’s not a mismatch that feels unhinged or lacks cohesion, it’s a mismatch that tackles the concept of genre and meaning. Confidence Man’s stark lyrics are bold and daring, and the wry observations of ‘Boyfriend’ are familiar to all girls who have ever had the misfortune of encountering a “i saw you at the show but was too shy to say hi x” boy. Is that cruel? Regardless, the out of this world concept and content of Confident Music for Confident People ensure this is a quartet we can’t let slip under the radar.
Bristol punks IDLES have been catching the eye of the music world for a while now. Their debut album, Brutalism, reached many AOTY lists, for a good reason. The brilliant modern punk of Brutalism is politically charged and radio unfriendly, but with a purpose. After supporting The Maccabees and Foo Fighters last year, IDLES aren’t going anywhere. They are pensive yet volatile, unabashed yet delicate, and their music is so damned thoughtful. ‘Well Done’, the lead single from Brutalism, is immediately recognisable through its looping lyric of “Why don’t you get a job/Even Tarquin has a job/Even Mary Berry’s got a job”. IDLES have well and truly redefined what it means to make punk music in the 2010s, and damn, it sounds really, really good.
Another band redefining what genre is, is London-via-Italy’s Husky Loops. Husky Loops are a trio I’ve followed for over eighteen months now, since before they released their debut EP last year, and I’m so glad they are finally gaining the momentum their music deserves. The trio of music students make music that is so art rock, it’s not art rock, that is so hip-hop rock, it’s not hip-hop rock, that is so not anything. Their music is simply innovation at its very best.
Fingers crossed, their tour later this year should cement them as one of the most exciting underground bands around. In my opinion, the most exciting underground band around. Don’t miss them.
Suffolk-based Gaffa Tape Sandy are on home turf next weekend, having formed in Bury St Edmunds. Now based in Brighton, the three-piece are on the precipice of breaking into the mainstream with their hook-filled dirty indie. Single ‘Beehive’ sees the acidic coalescence of Kim Jarvis and Catherine Nielsen’s vocals. It’s not just the call-and-response style vocal, though, that is eye (or ear) catching about this band. There’s a combination of psych rock, shoegaze, funky garage, and grunge in their sound, and it’s one that is right on the pulse of new music. Certainly a trio who’ve made a name for themselves, and certainly one to watch this weekend.
Latitude Festival runs from the 12th-15th July at Henham Park, Suffolk. Check back here for the full review.