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theartsdesk at Latitude Festival 2015 | reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk at Latitude Festival 2015

theartsdesk at Latitude Festival 2015

theartsdesk's 17-year-old correspondent hits Latitude

Un Mondo Pieno Di Sogni, Monica Maimone and Ami Jade Cadillac's floating celebration of Latitude's tenth aniversaryHeader © Dan Medhurst; Noel Gallagher © Jen O'Neill; all other photos by Sam Neill

Many festivals have become increasingly family-friendly. The children who, 10 years ago, were taken to outdoor multi-dayers such as Latitude, Camp Bestival and the now-defunct Big Chill, are now teenagers. Many have grown up with festivals as a usual part of their summer holidays - rather than a countercultural escape - and now they want to strike out on their own.

Theartsdesk asked 17-year-old aspiring actor-writer Phoebe Michaelides to attend Latitude (with a friend) and report back. This is what she had to say.


latitude signWith minds full of high expectations and Morrisons Basic cider in hand, my friend and I arrived at Latitude. It was our first festival without parents, and we were determined it was going to be bangin’. We were invited by theartsdesk to write about the festival from a teenager’s perspective. This is apparently an ever-growing demographic at festivals. Suits us.

As dusk fell, we set up our Adventura £25 one-skin tent, which half the festival seemed to have too (and which turned out to be surprisingly easy to do considering the amount of lecturing from parents about how putting a tent up was comparable to Hercules’ 12 labours). Despite the hellish 10-and-a-half hour coach journey there, we were both eager to explore immediately, and we were not disappointed. By the end of the very first night we’d watched a ballet on a lake (created especially for the festival’s 10th anniversary, as we later found out), seen a fireworks show, and thrown shapes in the Late Junction tent. Persistent pumping bass was our lullaby when we finally settled down in the early hours of the morning.

latitude moonAs each day passed we became more accustomed to the unceasing sensory feast of colours, sounds and culture. From sitting in a pink unicorn onesie in a giant nest in the woods, to poetry and comedy, to life skills talks in the literature tent, it was impossible to be bored. We even stumbled across a tent with a drag performance late one evening but had to politely excuse ourselves when the male performer flung his entire costume (except his socks) into the audience.

We have both been to a few festivals in the past but we didn’t notice many loudly-dressed festival eccentrics here. The crowd seemed to be mostly indie and bohemian young people, which we supposed we were too. The overall vibe, in fact, was very polite, even being flirted with while dancing to Welsh DJ Gareth Potter’s set at the Lake Stage one evening involved a vaguely intoxicated guy awkwardly bumping into me, apologising and, in doing so, taking my hands. Smooth. We danced a while, but ended up snaking out of the crowd towards the overpriced pizza stall for a late-night feast instead. A question of priorities.

latitude fireworksAside from browsing the stalls and making a few investments in feather hair extensions, glitter and all things fabulous, we spent the majority of the daytime bumbling about through the various arts tents, and saw all sorts – good and bad. A theatre production by Frantic Assembly’s Ignition Company, Man Up, on the Friday was a particularly awful stand-out. The performance seemed laughable, reminiscent of my days as a GCSE drama student. It involved a cast of 12 young male actors dressed in shabby jeans and T-shirts. Each delivered monologues and passed poorly mimed objects between each other and into the audience. They then clumsily incorporated Frantic Assembly’s renowned physical theatre element by picking one another up in the most inelegant way possible and trooping back and forth over the stage.

That aside, Friday evening’s antics were superb. Having been recommended Caribou by a couple of festival friendlies we got chatting to, we staked a place at the front of the Obelisk Arena and enjoyed their performance, their bass-laden song “Sun” standing out in particular. However, the majority of the crowd at the front seemed really only to be there to ensure a good view of alt-J, who were to play next.

latitude tickertapeBeing at the front of the crowd for alt-J was like a religious experience, particularly in the more immersive songs such as “Warm Foothills”. It was angelic, and alt-J’s music is unlike any other. A crowd of tens of thousands singing, “In your snatch fits pleasure, broom-shaped pleasure,” was quite a sight to say the least. I did notice alt-J’s lack of interaction with the audience, but their music carried it, and they finished with “Breezeblocks”, which was perfect, and left my friend and me unsure of what to do with ourselves when their hour-long set had finished. Naturally we gravitated towards the loudest bass sounds and went wild there.

Peeling my eyes open in the incredibly hot, fuggy tent I plunged my hand into a box of dry Cookie Crisp breakfast cereal for sustenance. It was the Saturday morning. We made a loose plan for the day from the programme (incredibly inconvenient design, incidentally, with fold-out pages all over the place), and set out back into the arena. Today our mission was to see as much of the festival as possible. And we succeeded. We even somehow ended up in the restricted back-stage artists' camp. As we moseyed about, completely out of place, we came across all the artists' luxuries – free coffee, mostly. However, our adventures stopped when a guard checked our wristbands and sent us back where we came from, although not before having a long chat with us about behavioural psychology and mechanics. So Latitude.

latitude vaccinesThe Saturday evening’s headliners made for a very different scene on the BBC Radio 6 stage - Savages, Catfish and the Bottlemen, then The Vaccines. We only caught the end of Savages but they looked brilliant. Jehnny Beth, the lead singer, was crowd-walking through the sea of people singing, “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.” Catfish and the Bottlemen after that was a slight anti-climax, but being at the very front in the ever-so-polite mosh pit (I heard several apologies) was good fun regardless. It was The Vaccines (pictured above right), however, that stole the show. The entire band gave a raw, high-energy performance, jumping around and pointing into the crowd. Even the slower numbers such as “Wetsuit” worked well. To top it off, red confetti was fired from the stage at the end, and even as they exited the stage the crowd continued to bellow the songs “Handsome” and “Norgaard”.

latitude noelSunday was much more relaxed. We sat outside the packed Other Voices tent by the lake plaiting grass hairbraids and listening to the muffled mellow sounds of Stornoway, enjoying deep conversations while watching projections on the lake. We caught the end of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (pictured above) as he sang the Oasis track “Don’t Look Back in Anger” but he left most of the singing to the crowd who bellowed the chorus out en masse. Stood at the back for the first time we noticed the raked seating in tiers allowing a better view for the disabled. There was even a man doing sign language on one of the screens. It was brilliant to think so many more people are able to experience festivals now. Creds to Latitude.

We clambered on the coach to leave on Monday lunchtime. It started to rain for the first time as we pulled away. We were exhausted and slept most of the way. It was strange that there was no constant background music anymore but we both agreed Latitude was among the best days of our lives. #festiegoals

Overleaf: Watch Sam Chaplin's Latitude 2015 montage to alt-J's "Tesselate"

We stumbled across a drag performance but had to excuse ourselves when the performer flung his entire costume (except his socks) into the audience


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