Festival watch: Latitude – review

Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
Christine and the Queens, Grimes and New Order were the high points of the festival season’s most middle-class affair

The vibe

Pink sheep, Smiths singalongs and elaborate art installations all feature in this middle-class, family-friendly, nature-loving festival. All interests were catered for, with talks about capitalism and anxiety, raves in the woods, and comedians observing that food is now often served on things other than plates. Brexiters were the villains of the day, with any mention of Remain eliciting loud yet slightly melancholy cheers. Florence Welch and Ed Sheeran made surprise appearances, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The crowd

From babies with wide eyes and ear defenders via fashion-forward, rainbow-haired teenagers to more grizzled guests looking bemused by selfies. Animal tails and unicorn headbands were spotted on kids and adults alike; one man sported a gargantuan rabbit head. Snazzy hats, sensible chairs and glitter beards were popular, as was waving odd things (pineapple, sloth puppets) in the air during acts.

Best act

Christine and the Queens (aka Héloïse Letissier) was the name on everyone’s lips, with good reason: incredible tunes, charisma in spades and slinky synchronised dance moves, all infused with Gallic charm and winsome banter. Whoever scheduled her to clash with Courtney Barnett, Father John Misty and Anna Meredith, however, is a sadist. Also: Grimes’s high-energy, bass-heavy extravaganza, and the rush of endorphins that was New Order’s Sunday night closing set.

And the worst

An unfortunate duo trying to rouse the hungover Sunday morning crowd with a melodramatic, headache-inducing poetry set. Perhaps it was an attempt to satirise bad poems (sample quote: “We are humans, experiencing earth together,” spoken in a kooky robotic chant). So bad, it’s bad.

Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora.
Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora. Photograph: Ben Matthews/Rex/Shutterstock

Best discovery

A tent in the woods converted into a Russian country house by Dash Arts. Visitors were greeted with traditional cherry jam tea, card games, live music, and the most fun, raucous late-night dancing at the festival. On the 6 Music stage, ethereal 20-year-old Norwegian singer Aurora went down a storm with her Björk-like vocals, distinctive dancing and skilful counterbalancing of light and dark.

Best dressed

An entire family in coordinated flowery Hawaiian shirts: eye-catching, functional and hot pink.

Overheard

“£6 for glitter? But it’s a human right!” Fortunately there were glitter stations in the woods providing free sparkles. Another moment that sums up the festival: Bill Bailey asked an 11-year-old in the front row what he wanted to be when he grew up; the reply: “A social worker” (cue cheers).

Best tweet

This exchange between Hana and Grimes:

@HANAtruly pokemon is pinsihing for brexit wont let any good pokes into the uk

— Grimes (@Grimezsz) July 17, 2016

Contributor

Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

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