11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011

19th Jul 2011 | 12:30

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
The Festival

Latitude Festival 2011

Total Guitar headed down to last weekend’s (15 to 17 July) Latitude festival to catch a variety of awesome guitar bands, sample some ciders and laugh with glee at the indignant and colourful sheep.

Based in the idyllic setting of Henham Park, just outside of Southwold, Suffolk, the festival aims to combine a variety of arts (music, theatre, literature etc) under one banner. TG is all about six strings nailed to bits of wood though and, fortunately, there's plenty of that in store there too.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Grouplove

Grouplove

Appeared: Friday, Sunrise Arena

Since featuring in the ‘On The Up’ pages of Total Guitar back in March, Grouplove have been generating a bigger buzz than a bee orgy at an Ann Summers store.

As it was, their brand of manically melodic alt-pop – think Pixies but with a hippy sentiment – transferred especially well in Latitude’s tree-lined Sunrise Arena. Serendipitously, the band’s celebratory mood (this was the last set of their current tour) struck a chord with a festival crowd riding high on first-day vibes, sunshine and cider. In particular, breakthrough single ‘Colours’, complete with balloons emblazoned with the band logo, sent both band and audience to a euphoric place.

Best Track: 'Colours'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes

Appeared: Friday, Obelisk Stage

Bright eyes latitude 2011 review

Conor Oberst and company have, whether they like the idea or not, been in the music game for a little while now and as such face a multitude of challenges when picking a festival set list.

Eschewing the traditional ‘greatest hits’ festival approach, the band lent most heavily on ‘The People’s Key’ (released earlier this year) and suffered the according indifference from some audience members. It was a connoisseur’s selection and enjoyable to Bright Eyes fans, but one that didn’t quite do it for the attending crowd looking for an easy sing-along. Still, Oberst looked like he was having a good time.

Best Track: 'Road To Joy'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
The Vaccines

The Vaccines

Appeared: Friday, Word Arena

The vaccines latitude 2011 live review

In Shakespearian ‘Taming Of The Shrew’ update ‘10 Things I Hate About You’, Heath Ledger’s character, baffled at the attention an eligible bachelorette is receiving, proffers the immortal lines, “What is it with this chick? Has she got beer-flavoured nipples?”

That pretty much sums up TG’s befuddlement when it comes to The Vaccines live. Yes, they’ve written a decent album of Ramones-inflected indie tunes about love, boredom and disaffection, but that only gets you halfway. ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ was a highly entertaining jump-along, but the rest of the set was performed in exactly the same flat fashion and a sense of déjà vu inevitably descended.

Best Track: 'Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
The National

The National

Appeared: Friday, Obelisk Stage

The national latitude 2011 live review

These days it’s quite fashionable for the music press to bang on about The National as the hard-working nice guys come good, like some kind of Brooklyn-based Elbow. However, the group displayed very little of the customary energy that has seen them grabbing headlines with their own shows, or indeed successfully blowing TG away at last year’s event.

Though full of goodwill, the band seemed tired and it wasn’t until the final 30 minutes of their performance that they really delivered the goods, singer Matt Berninger disappearing into the immense crowd and guitarist/songwriter Aaron Dessner leading a touching acoustic sing-along of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’.

Best Track: 'Mr November'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Appeared: Saturday, Obelisk Stage

The fact that he’s spent the last six weeks sitting pretty at No 3 in the charts with ‘The A-Team’ probably did local boy Ed Sheeran some favours when faced with the mixed blessing of opening the Obelisk stage on the rain-hammered Saturday.

Sheeran works hard. He’s charismatic as hell, and having turned up with more than our fair share of doubts, TG walked away from the young singer/songwriter’s set a full convert. He rapped, but we didn’t want to cringe, he played some beautiful acoustic guitar and he displayed a Tunstall-rivalling knowledge of looper pedals. What’s more, he seemed genuinely touched by the large crowd resolutely sticking out the weather – and enjoying themselves in spite of it.

Best Track: 'The A Team'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Cerebral Ballzy

Cerebral Ballzy

Appeared: Saturday, Lake Stage

Cerebral ballzy latitude 2011 live review

We know what you’re thinking: ‘Who in their right mind books a bunch of bile-fuelled thrash-friendly skate punks to play a family-orientated arts festival?’ Huw Stephens, that’s who. And it was a move of utter brilliance.

The festival’s teenage inhabitants (often sidelined to the offensively-named Inbetweeners Teen Area) emerged with curious looks and were prodded, riled and cheered into some of the fiercest circle pitting, walls of death and general carnage TG has ever witnessed – yes, you’re still reading a review of Latitude. The sight of 40-odd ‘thrash-curious’ middle-aged men and women running for their lives, fear in their faces, when frontman Honor directed his hardcore group of ‘thrashers’ at the front to turn around and charge the non-dancing audience behind will stay with us forever. Utter spectacle but brilliant fun.

Best Track: 'Drug Myself Dumb'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Y Niwl

Y Niwl

Appeared: Saturday, Lake Stage

Y niwl latitude 2011 live review

It’s appropriate given their self-dubbed genre of ‘cold water surf’ music that it was raining throughout Y Niwl’s (pronounced ‘uh nule’) early evening set.

Channelling the spirit of the greats of surf music and funnelling it through some very attractive Duesenburg Guitars, the four-piece have a knack for a fantastic melody and are pretty handy with their instruments, too. A friend of TG nailed it, though, pointing out that, as an instrumental act, they’re the perfect inclusive festival band. You don’t need to know the words to enjoy Y Niwl, which is good, because if you did you probably couldn’t pronounce them properly.

Best Track: 'Undegpedwar'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Villagers

Villagers

Appeared: Saturday, Word Arena

Villagers latitude 2011 live review

Folk act Villagers, primarily a vehicle for the songwriting of frontman Conor J O’Brien, were back at the Word Arena having pleased the festival gods with a successful appearance in 2010.

Of course, as Villagers’ recent tour buddies Elbow will tell you, a casual Mercury Prize nomination is always useful in bringing in the crowds and, despite the fact that the their set essentially drew from the same album as their last appearance at the festival, the crowd had truly swelled. Their emotive, ‘bottled-up angry’ approach to folk rock may occasionally border on pretension, but if they keep writing songs the quality of those on their debut ‘Becoming A Jackal’ then we’ll happily put up with the airs and graces.

Best Track: 'The Pact (I'll Be Your Fever)'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Foals

Foals

Appeared: Saturday, Word Arena

Foals latitude 2011 review

All signs pointed to an easy win for Foals. The Oxford experimentalists were using the gig to put their Mercury-nominated second album ‘Total Life Forever’ to bed, they were playing the big tent on a rainy night and the only clashing headliner was Paulo Nutini, best known for his songs about shoes.

Unfortunately, the most exciting part of the show was halfway through opener ‘Blue Blood’ when they were forced to stop due to the risk of audience members being crushed. From then on it was a flat formula of falsetto vocal, building background samples and then funky guitar breakdown, rinsed and repeated. There was a moment in which the fireworks going off on the main stage signifying the end of Nutini’s set coincided with the crescendo of ‘Spanish Sahara’, which raised some neck hairs, but unfortunately that was about as close as Foals came to going out with a bang.

Best Track: 'Spanish Sahara'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket

Appeared: Saturday, Obelisk Stage

My morning jacket latitude 2011 live review

In one of the strongest performances of the weekend, Jim James and friends occupied the same slot as his friend (and fellow Monsters Of Folk member) Conor Oberst did the previous evening.

Similarly, My Morning Jacket chose a set of new songs peppered with old favourites, but unlike Oberst seemed to do a much better job of connecting with the audience. Jim James was every inch a twisting, hairy whirlwind of rock flinging himself and his Gibson Flying-V around with reckless abandon. ‘Holdin' On To Black Metal’, from recent album ‘Circuital’ and complete with fuzzed up Stones riff, sounded fantastic live, and ‘Z’s airy psych favourites ‘Off The Record’ and ‘Gideon’ also went across well.

Best Track: 'Holdin' Onto Black Metal'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

11 bands we caught at Latitude Festival 2011
Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi

Appeared: Sunday, Obelisk Stage

Anna calvi latitude 2011 review

Prior to Latitude, the last time TG caught Anna Calvi live was back in early May at Bristol’s Thekla and she blew us away with an atmospheric set, an emotive performance and some truly mind-blowing guitar work. However, her Latitude performance was hampered by an unfortunate position on the bill.

Although, Calvi is a night-time entity and would definitely have been better served appearing later in a small venue, she was placed as second act on the festival’s largest stage. Still, her abbreviated set ticked all the right boxes (Elvis and Edith Piaf covers, ‘Blackout’, ‘Desire’) and clearly won her some new fans, even if the customary epic solo section of ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’ was too tightly trimmed for TG’s liking.

Best Track: 'Rider To The Sea'

For more festival goodness check out TG's Top 10 festivals for guitarists and our 12 Dos and Don'ts of the festival season.

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