Latitude Festival is ridiculously huge melting pot of incredible upcoming bands. Here’s my favourite.
In Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, Jungle slyly like a fox crept into the 2014 music scene like a bunch of undercover spies, revealing no part of their identity, doing hardly any interviews and playing gigs in complete darkness as if to hide a huge, precarious secret. But, out of the rabbit hole they crept up into the light and have revealed themselves as Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, childhood friends from London. Forming just over a year ago, the pair constructed a band of seven members who all coagulated together, merging to create a strange, experimental sound of funky dance, a vein of soul running through the core. In this solid seven piece, they quickly built a spring from which they propelled from pretty quickly.
The audience at Latitude reflected the excitement that the paradoxical Jungle has formed so expertly – the crowd swayed violently like a shaking strawberry jelly and created large mosh pits at every given moment, thrashing into each other like an excited bunch of molecules reacting to pressured heat. The veil of mystery seems to have worked to effect: everyone danced in a hypnotic craze, absorbing the four layered vocals of lead singers Josh and Tom and two backing singers thirstily. Coke bottles filled with water were tied up to a horizontal rod by the drummer and were occasionally hit in a line, bongos adding yet another dimension to the unique, dense sound and a set of keyboards make for a heavy set of melodies and chords intertwined just as well as Tom and Josh’s vocals seamlessly fit together. When ‘Busy Earnin’ comes on at the end, the superiority of originality, skill and presence is cemented: the crowd jamming in unison, reflecting the energy on stage until it’s over and the concept of time unwelcomely returned.
Head down, eyes glued intently to the floor, Sohn walked to the centre in the stage in an air of mystery exhibiting no colour other than a mass of inky black and a ginger beard – a big, baggy hood pulled up over a black beanie, a black tee-shirt and black jeans concealed all but a small section of his face – Sohn is an enigma, an enigma which creates a strange uncertainty amongst the well-attended crowd at the 6 Music stage. Perched on a chair by a hefty synth deck, just two others join him: both also sitting in front of huge synthesisers but one also holding a bass guitar and the other with a keyboard. As the lights flashed in a crazed frenzy and the music begun, it became clear that there was something incredibly intense about the Austria based singer/songwriter/producer Sohn and something very dark.
Each song was melancholic, Sohn’s eyes transfixed on the large deck in front of him as he fiddled with multiple buttons and dials and switches. Spiralling his vocals up to incredible heights while adjusting every little sound, his background as a producer (he’s worked for Kwabs, Banks and Lana Del Ray) is blatant. Continuously pointing to the sound engineers at the side of the stage to adjust the noise levels, it’s clear that he’s a perfectionist, committed to making sure every element of his tracks was faultless. There was a time when, about 15 minutes in, the music began to become a continuous stream of strained sadness, the sounds rolling into an unremitting calibre of depressing electronic music – but then Sohn kicks in with his best track ‘Artifice’, igniting the crowd and blinding them with dazzling lights. He commanded the decks, mesmerising the crowd in some strange daze, possessed by the ominous sounds. It was only when the lights switched off and the music stopped that you were brought back to reality, a surprisingly huge juxtaposition.
At 19 years old, MNEK has done a fair bit to put on the CV. A Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and record producer, he’s written and produced tracks for artists like Clean Bandit, Duke Dumont, Rudimental and Little Mix and has sung on Gorgon City’s ‘Ready for Your Love’. 19 year olds –myself included -up and down the country will be hissing with envy and mourning that their achievements include getting pissed at 11am and stuffing twenty two marshmallows in their mouth. Despite his pretty impressive credentials, though, MNEK seems like a pretty chilled, cheeky teenager fitted in a snazzy, patterned one-suit. Complete with two sassy female vocalists and a band, MNEK has nailed the dance-pop vibe with one hit on the hammer – within 10 seconds of ‘Every Little Word’, his opening track, you’re transported to some kind of multi-coloured, sun-soaked land of pop with slices of funk and an insistent house beat. You forgot that, despite consistent storm warnings, rain that insisted on joining the party and humidity so hot you’re a constant glistening sheen of sweat, for the moment things are pretty perfect. He’s got a power to command happiness from each member of the crowd with a raise in octave as he sings in his silky smooth voice that runs through each song in a syrupy, sweet cascade, mixing in all kinds of house, club, RnB and pop flavours. Is it too much to say MNEK was my favourite upcoming artist on this list?
After waking up to the sound of violent vomiting on Sunday at 7 in the morning, other noises wafted through the thin polyester exterior of my tent – the name of George Ezra. Seemingly doing an appearing act, George bounced into 2014, drenching the UK with his refreshingly new, feel-good track ‘Budapest’. Since then he’s been on the tongue of every radio presenter, every blogger and music fan across the country with such momentum that George has continued to propel himself forward at astonishing speed. The fact that he’s popped out of the hat like a magician’s rabbit doesn’t mean he’s done just that, however. From a young teenager he played numerous gigs in Bristol, bouncing from pub to pub after he found that, one morning, he could actually sing if he used his voice a different way. And now, darting up and down the country in a swanky new tour bus, the 21 year old is finding fame for the first time. An hour before his set, teenagers started filtering into the 6 Music tent in a constant stream of new, eager fans. Ten minutes before his set began, an early start at 2.50pm, the crowd were under some illusion that he was already on stage by the sound of their woos, cheers and screams. When the man himself strolls on stage beaming like a Cheshire cat, the crowd are pretty bloody happy. Charming the crowds into the his dizzying, enthralling vocals, George Ezra is perfect for festivals – his poetic, endearing lyrics with the folk turned pop sound made for a breezy, cheery forty five minutes which couldn’t have sealed his hyped status into true potential better.
When I was nine years old, all I wanted to do was to be Avril Lavigne. The urge to be in a band was so great that at 15 I was in a band called ‘What About Joe?’ (because Joe, our drummer, never turned up to rehearsals). So imagine my all-consuming envy when I see Elli Ingram and her six-man band having the time of their lives performing on the Lake Stage at Latitude. Made up of a saxophonist, a guitarist, bassist, drummer and two vivacious female backing vocalists, Elli Ingram could possibly have the happiest band I’ve seen live. Continuously glancing at each other with massive smiles and woo-ing after each of their songs, you can tell that Elli Ingram and co love what they do. And when it comes to performances, every element of their presence is embellished with this lovely happiness giving each song a sunny, warm glow. This reflects the nature of her songs perfectly – the jazzy, soulful sound mixed with a voice that has been described as ‘Amy Winehouse on weed’ makes your hips shake all 60s style. The Brighton lass was quiet and softly spoken, smiling with wide eyes as she thanked the crowd – only for her to belt out a voice that couldn’t contradict this more. Though the crowd started small, it quickly swelled as people walked past and heard a sound so unique it was worth stopping. ‘When It Was Dark’, a powerful, sassy song with cinematic fringing, roped in a considerable amount, people intrigued by such a solid sound coming from a small stage. This gal, with her ability to slap a fresh paint on an otherwise dusty, moth-eaten genre of jazz, is going to entrance more than just a crowd at Latitude very soon.
Did you go to Latitude this year? Who were your favourites – have I missed anyone off this list?