The second day of Latitude Festival was yet another dynamic showcase of talent, featuring iconic performances from headliners Pulp, The Beths, Fizz, an uproarious stand-up from Ed Gamble, and much more. The festival grounds turned into an artistic playground, adorned with captivating art installations, engaging workshops, and immersive experiences. Read all about it below.
Let’s look back at some of the highlights of the first full day at Latitude 2023!
LASER KIWI: RISE OF THE OLIVE
New Zealand trio Laser Kiwi have garnered rave reviews for their unique brand of surreal circus comedy, so it’s no surprise that audience members turned up in their droves to catch a performance of Rise of the Olive at the Theatre Arena on Friday afternoon. Imogen Stone and Zane and Degge Jarvie blend wacky sketch comedy with jaw-dropping acrobatic feats featuring everyday household objects: martini glasses, Jenga towers and – you guessed it – a gargantuan jar of olives. The group had the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the performance and left them utterly baffled but thoroughly entertained – the perfect way to begin this year’s theatre programme.
Stepping foot onto the glorious BBC Sounds Stage, New Zealand-born quartet The Beths – made up of Elizabeth Stokes (vocals), Jonathan Pearce (lead guitar), Benjamin Sinclair (bass), and Tristan Deck (drums) – immediately brought the energy in the tent to euphoric highs. With a set consisting of releases and popular hits like ‘Knees Deep’ and ‘Best Left’, the group showcased why they’ve rapidly risen since the release of last year’s album Expert In A Dying Field. With a giant inflatable fish on stage, they didn’t just manage to inject catchy hooks into their energetic jangly power pop, but also make sure they’re part of everyone’s to-watch list.
Don’t be fooled by the tattoos – Ed Gamble is a heavy metal fan, but not a heavy metal man. The Comedy Arena was packed to the rafters with fans eager to see the Mock the Week and Off Menu star’s set, in which he made peace with his “Mormon-like” demeanour and made peace with becoming “the boring friend”. Gamble had the audience in fits of laughter, looking back in horror at his Las Vegas honeymoon and instead speaking fondly of his marriage and the latest addition to his family (his cat). His masterful delivery and excellent deployment of comic hyperbole injects even the most mundane of subject matters with a dose of humour, with his closing anecdote about his neighourhood WhatsApp chat standing out as a particular highlight.
MEN I TRUST
Taking the stage in high spirits and casual attire, Canadian band Men I Trust, formed in 2014, made their triumphant way onto the BBC Sounds Stage in the late afternoon, while the band’s enchanting lead vocalist, Emma Proulx, proved her vocal prowess from the start. Supported by skilled instrumentation and dreamlike riffs from lead guitarist Jessy Caron, the indie group delivered an intimate yet energetic performance that left the audience captivated with their mix of heartfelt, electrifying and calming music. The Montreal natives’ appeal also spanned across the musical spectrum, attracting fans with their endearing Québécois accents, mysterious yet bubbly personas, and glowing catalogue.
DUCKIE HOMOSEXUALIST SUMMER SCHOOL
Offering a series of 13 explosive and cutting-edge acts of new wave show business, post-queer subterfuge, and DIY entertainment, the Duckie Homosexualist Summer School brought Latitude’s Outpost to life. All directed by Ursula Martinez, the captivating performances by the group of vibrant young queer Londoners proved to be an unforgettable experience of creativity and self-expression, featuring poetry readings, dance routines, hilarious comedic recitals, daring interpretative theatre and much more.
Born out of love and blind optimism, FIZZ emerged in a whirlwind of pure joy and escapism, challenging the conventional approach to music-making. Together, the musical collective, made up of the four musicians and friends dodie, Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown, have crafted new songs with a vibrant spirit of fun and a profound love for the art at the very heart of their creative journey, to which they also invited this year’s excited Latitude attendees. Bouncing through a mixed set of yet to be released songs and already beloved hits like ‘High In Brighton’, the four-piece got the whole Sunrise Arena to dance in unison and craving for more.
As the sun set over Henham Park, festival goers gathered in their thousands to catch Britpop icons Pulp take to the Obelisk Arena. The moment frontman Jarvis Cocker’s instantly recognisable silhouette rose to the stage electrified the crowd instantly: you wouldn’t think the band hadn’t played live together for a decade. Ever the showman, Jarvis Cocker kept the crowd in a trance with his trademark dry wit and quirky dance moves, set to their glorious fusion of glitzy 70s glam rock and indie pop with a dash of new wave thrown in for good measure. Seeing punters aged 7 to 70 singing their hearts out to ‘Babies’, ‘Disco 2000’ and ‘Common People’ was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the weekend, part of a night that the band promised we would remember for the rest of our lives.
Stamptown – the raucous creation of the “bad boy of clown” Zach Zucker – has become a cult hit after countless successful runs across both the UK and USA, and it was a delight to see Stamptown regulars seated among newcomers who had no idea of what was to follow. Guest emcees Dan Wye (aka Séayoncé) and Robyn Herfellow played host to a number of left-field acts from the worlds of comedy, drag and cabaret. From Sharon le Grand’s slow, sultry cover of the ‘Cheeky Song’ to a delightfully deranged lip-sync from the legendary Dairy King, Stamptown showcased the very best of alternative comedy, kicking off Friday’s late night programme with the perfect amount of chaos.
Peace – now a duo consisting of brothers Harry and Sam Koisser – were a spiritual successor of sorts to Pulp, in keeping with Friday night’s theme of indie rock nostalgia. Dripping with swagger and sleaze, both are every inch classic rock stars, sending the Sunrise Arena crowd into a frenzy that did not diminish once throughout the set. Ending Friday night on an exuberant, joyous note, Peace are definitely back with a bang.
The fun doesn’t stop there – check the website tomorrow for a roundup of Saturday’s highlights!
by Laura Weingrill and Alison Hall