Arcade Fire, Jarvis Cocker, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cansei de Ser Sexy, Jeremy Warmsley - GIITTV @ Latitude 2007: Part One
Angus Reid 28/07/2007
Arrive very damn late due to traffic, pitch tent near path and head off to get wristbands etc and get into the arena. Upon getting in there, discover that everyone except Damien Rice has finished already. It seems bands finish early in this place. Never mind, the cider is tasty and there's Guilty Pleasures to be dragged to. Everyone around me dances. I feel neither guilt nor pleasure, just a slight sense of unease. Friday night time: Oh God no, make it stop. Have been woken in the night by the sound of enthusiastic sex noises from a tent nearby. Realise that we've pitched our tent in the middle of a stag do over from Dublin as around 20 or so lads stand around chatting all night, even when it rains. Finally, at 5am retreat to the car and sleep there for a bit.
Aching, tired and already feeling like going home, today had better be good. After getting possibly the most awesome meat in bread combo ever, it's off to see some bands at last! So, hang around in the sun and watch a bit of Talk Taxis, not impressed, so off we trot for Satin Peaches. Decide after a few notes to go for a wander in the woods... After coming back, it's Elvis Perkins on the Uncut Stage, and out of the blue, he's actually quite good. there's a rather pleasing sense of Tom Waits about him, and he makes for aperfect soundtrack to a lovely summery morning. Herman Dune are one of the reasons I was looking forward to this festival, though it has to be said, without Andre they lack a certain something, namely harmonies. They're still very good, but it's just missing that certain something that made them so special the last time I saw them. Bat For Lashes is pleasantly entertaining however, and finishes by banging a stick on a board. Good old fashioned fun for all.
One of our travelling party demands that we see The Hold Steady - so we stay put, gradually burning at the main stage (or Obelisk Arena if you will). The Hold Steady make music that is big, loud, fun and so very, very American. They're having a great time, and it passes onto the crowd, who are waving hands in the air, cheering and jumping around like loons. Then, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah continue the feelgood vibe, albeit with a voice straight from Sesame Street. It's an acquired taste, but to their credit, it's one that doesn't take long to acquire. I'm finally starting to enjoy festivals again. CSS are... well... CSS really. It's a pretty good impersonation of Le Tigre, albeit with a lot more people, but they continue the party vibe, with the stage filled with balloons, and costume changes from Lovefoxxx and plenty of diving in the audience and all round fun.
Once they're gone, there's the prospect of The Good, The Bad And The Queen to contend with. Feeling quite bouyant and happy, we decide that's probably not a good idea, and head off instead to see Rodrigo Y Gabriela. I've known about them since just after their first album hit these shores, and had a rough idea of what to expect, but they're several million times better than that. With just two acoustic guitars they seem to be able to cover techno, flamenco and metal, coupled with plenty of audience encouragement. Now, technical proficiency has become something of a stigma the past ten or fifteen years, and it's often regarded as being a bit bad taste to show any degree of flair or skill with your instrument. These two blow that out of the water, however, and the entire tent is left slack jawed at the incredible skill and dexterity that these two posess. 'Awesome', for once really is the word.
Wake up in the car again - not taking any chances today. Really feeling the sunburn and tiredness today, and I'm not relishing the prospect of driving home tonight. Still, never mind that, there's The Strange Death of Liberal England, followed immediately by Silversun Pickups to get to first! TSDOLE are another one of those yelping acquired tastes, and this one proves a little more difficult for some to get used to - however, they have a massive energy, and for a set that opens the day it's an absolute belter. The bar has been set already, though if Silversun Pickups are unnerved by the surprisingly large crowd that's gathered for them, they don't show it. This is another blistering set, and there are even people that have shaken off the hangover enough to jump around at the front. What a superb way to start the day. After this we wander round for a while, before stumbling into the Film and Music tent to get out of the impending rain. There we find Juneau Projects about to start... they appear to be playing bits of wood shaped like a stag beetle and a deer skull. Interesting. They get through one song before the laptop that provides their means of music decides it's had enough It's not too much of a loss to be honest - the sound was something along the lines of a late 80s midi file makred "rock for beginners". They're charming in their humility though as they're dragged off. Well, it's stopped raining, that must mean it's time to go and see The National. I've been promised by someone I know that they're one of the best bands ever, and that I'll love them as I would a brother. To be quite frank, how they inspire such hyperbole and devotion is beyond me. They're alright, and the singer has a nice baritone voice, but generally there's nothing to separate them from any of the other anthemic rock acts out there. Maybe it's best that I don't have a brother.
Time to pop back to the Music and Film stage to see Jeremy Warmsley do an acoustic set with live film accompaniment. But wait, what's this? Due to being Juneau Projects being pulled off earlier, everything is running well ahead of schedule, and there's a huge gap to be filled before Warmsley is on. "Please welcome back, Juneau Projects" announces the compere. Well, there are seats in here, and we're near the front, so we're not moving come hell or high water. The sound of high volume digital feedback while watching two grown men mosh around a stage carrying wodden 'instruments' is quite frankly one of the more bizarre things I've seen in my life. But bless them, at least they got the laptop working this time. Jeremey Warmsley is superb acoustic, and the film accompaniments are very sweet, featuring toy soldiers, a member of the audience playing chess, a game of snap and various other activities. The final song is backed by a flick through one of Jeremy's photo albums, and is surprisingly touching. Well worth surviving Juneau Projects for, and along with Rodrigo Y Gabriela one of the highlights of the festival.
So to the last two of the evening - Jarvis Cocker, and Arcade Fire. Jarvis is in talkative form as ever, but puts on a marvellous show, getting the crowd onside instantly. He's been doing this for a good few years now, and his skill as a frontman and personality is unmatched. He's even allowed to shoehorn in one more song than the schedule allows, and treats us all to a rendition of Eye of the Tiger. In the hands of most this would sell more pints at the bar than ever, but as I've said, Jarvis is one of the most watchable people ever to sing into a microphone, and soon there are several thousand people belting out mid-80s rock like their lives depend upon it. It's not perhaps what one would have called the ideal preparation for Arcade Fire, but somehow it works brilliantly. It's nice and dark by the time Arcade Fire come on, and from somewhere in the audience flaming hot air lanterns are floating off into the night sky. It's a beautiful sight, and fits so very well with music of Arcade Fire. Sadly however, as excellent as the opening five songs are, I've got to drive back now. But what a thoroughly enjoyable band to finish the weekend with. Aside from the above mentioned, the weekend has also featured numerous trips to the literary tent to see Stewart Lee and listen to some children swearing during a bedtime story and the sight of square headed funnyman Marcus Brigstock two places behind in the queue for a pie. Oh yes. Don't you just love festivals?