Latitude Festival 2009 - Sunday: Part I

Blog by Gareth Vile | 19 Jul 2009
  • Latitude 2009

My campsite neighbor has painted his entire body blue, and has the expression of a man who has lived to regret the decision. Every morning as I walk down to the stages, somebody is telling another Greek myth to a crowd of children. Families are sitting on the damp grass, playing scrabble. The Manchester Orchestra are in the Uncut Arena, emoting. Thom Yorke does a solo set, and his piano accompaniment sounds a little too much like Spinal Tap’s ‘Lick My Love Pump’. I wander across to pick up some hot sex tips from Deborah Frances White. She is suggesting that I try and act and look a little more like George Clooney. I look sadly down at my waterproofs.

Last night, I’d found a deck chair and watched The Irrepressibles perform on a platform in the middle of the lake. A male singer with a high-pitched voice and a small orchestra of costumed women, who did minimalist choreography as they accompanied his lovelorn warbling. This morning, Say Hi to the Rivers attempts to fuse the songs of The High Llamas and Jonathan Coe’s social realist meditations. The tunes are jolly enough, and Coe cuts to the heart of suburban desperation, but the complete lack of visual appeal- the stage is crowded out by band members- makes this, as performance, an interesting CD. Neither of these acts square the circle of theatre and pop music.

I shamble through the forest again, taking in the portraits of the stars hung on the trees. I catch The Magpie cover ‘Roadrunner’ with a winning enthusiasm. A serious discussion is taking place in the Literary Arena, where Peter Blake is spreading mythology about his cover for Sergeant Pepper. Previously, I’d heard an extract from a pornographic fantasy read by the same man who had read Henry the Hungry Caterpillar to children. As the obscenity increased, the more the audience laughed.

I am still overwhelmed. Aside from the persistent rain, which has now breached my tent and left me in soggy clothes, there is so much to take in, art forms accidently jostling each other, sounds saturating sounds, a steady beat always insistent, shifting from funk to hip-hop to straight ahead rock. I arrive at the Disco Shed, which is surrounded by ravers. We lift our arms to the sky and wave our glow sticks. The La De Dahs burst into unaccompanied singing, covering 'Creep' in the style of the 1940s. Stuckey and Murray are strumming ‘Favourite Things’ and I leave before they start becoming crude.

An old National Review of Live Art lag, Richard Dedomenici is lecturing on plagiarism, revealing how his presence and skills have evolved in the past four years. Pete Brown, whom I knew at university, is chatting about beer. I’ve missed discussions on the wonders of science and the stupidity of religion. The sheep on site have been dyed fabulous colours and Les Moutons are dressed as such. Until late at night, Guilty Pleasures DJs churn out those hits that we can’t admit that we love.