Welcome to Friday at cinch presents Latitude 2021!
Here in our Friday highlights, we’re sharing with you the unmissable moments from the first full day at Latitude. From comedy headliner Simon Amstell to THAT headline performance from Wolf Alice, and much, much more.
Mr Jukes & Barney Artist
The word ‘rest’ doesn’t appear to be in Jack Steadman’s vocabulary. Not only will he be headlining on Sunday with Bombay Bicycle Club, his solo project Mr Jukes is responsible for waking up the festival in the BBC Sounds tent – featuring London rapper Barney Artist.
From the moment their DJ steps behind the decks to kick things off, the trio have the crowd in the palms of their hands.
Blending together London rap with funky bass lines, Mr Jukes and Barney Artist have everyone with their hands in the air, hips wiggling and vibes flowing.
There’s a classic 90s west coast feel to much of the new material, before we’re transported back to East London courtesy of Barney Artist’s solo offerings. All of which is received with radiant positivity from the audience.
Both Steadman and Barney Artist delight in teaching the crowd corresponding dance moves and chants for the music. There’s people bopping from the very front to the very back throughout.
As the performance comes to a close, Mr Jukes helps take us to church with a soaring gospel inspired harmony. Entering the crowd to entertain them up close for the final few minutes, the chant of ‘ONE MORE SONG’ takes over the entire tent, and fortunately all onstage are more than happy to oblige.
Old Kent Road
The weekend hasn’t been short of sunshine so far, but it’s tap troupe Old Kent Road – all garbed up in oranges and pinks – who brought the summer rays with a short, sharp but supremely joyful trip through the history of tap.
Old Kent Road are a London-based collective, formed by Avalon Rathgeb to wonder and amaze people of all ages – experienced in the world of dance or not. Their Waterfront Stage stint showed this in spades.
The six-piece are at the pinnacle of their powers, and as a unit have perfected the craft. While each person is given their own chance to freestyle, all stunning and to a point, it’s their group pieces that captivate the crowd. A flurry of footwork, they somehow maintain a preciseness that lets their impeccable choreography sing. They don’t stay still for a moment, slipping and sliding across the grandstand – no mean feat in tap shoes.
It’s a showcase that delves into the past as much as it peeks into the future of tap. At times, it feels like a classic Gene Kelly musical, all smiles and big production as they weave through the jazz and big band classics. However they just as easily break out the hip hop or electro swing, showing a new edge to tap than some might know. It was astounding what they accomplished in a whirlwind of an 18 minute set, and there’s guaranteed to be some new tap fanatics click-clacking their way through the woods this weekend.
The Berlin underground club scene has arrived at the Obelisk Arena! Lynks crashes into the stage in a denim balaclava along with a trio of equally denim clad dancers – aptly named Lynks’ Shower Gel.
The energy level is propelled all the way into the millions as Lynks unleashes their impossibly energetic queer pop excellence into Latitude. Best described as a cross between FKA Twigs and the Scissor Sisters, the camp energy surges with every word and dance routine.
A mosh pit breaks out in the front of the stage, intensifying Lynks’ presence further. The set might be taking place in the open air, but it’s as though the entire stage has been transported to a late night cabaret tent.
Tongue in cheek songs about writing Tinder bios and rebelling against standard life milestones come thick and fast. Millions of acronyms are laid over pulsating beats and synths as an equally denim clad Charlie from Shame leaps onto the stage for one of the closing tracks.
Final song ‘Hot Straight Boys’ is a comedic bounce through a number of well known queer cliches. Eventually dropping to the floor and laying on the stage to signal the end of the set, Lynks proceeds to army crawl off into the wings to celebrate a job absolutely well done.
Barely Methodical Theatre: Bromance
A show about friendship seems made for Latitude in 2021. It’s buzzing in the air, as old friends reunite and new friends are made for the first time in a field for what feels like forever. It seems only right then that we introduced ‘Bromance’ by the Barely Methodical Troupe to our Theatre Arena.
The troupe have returned to their award-winning, global breakout hit 2014 show, exploring the psyche of male friendship and masculinity through experimental circus. Not the most traditional way to dissect what can be quite a deep subject, but the opportunity for interpretation allowed for the trio to explore their own thoughts on the matter for inspiration, using it as a launchpad to create wildly immersive set pieces.
Trust, jealousy, self-worth, and joy all provide a rich source for them to play with. But it’s friendship that runs through the whole piece. It’s here that the show feels almost autobiographical. It’s clear that the camaraderie between these three is at the core of Barely Methodical and this shows in ‘Bromance’ both in the themes and actions throughout.
The production is somewhat stripped back, playing to their strengths as performers. Rather than use the usual bag of circus tricks to wow an audience, everything is created by the kinetic energy between them. The momentum that launches them through the air, or spinning across the floor is all created through their own sheer power and expertise. It’s here that the circus with meaning becomes sheer spectacle. With no springboards, swings or nets, it creates circus that instead leans on physical theatre, breakdancing, and even ballet to create its unique blend.
It’s been somewhat of a whirlwind year for Maisie Peters, the debut signing on Ed Sheeran’s record label. Her YouTube channel has clearly been a hot destination for much of today’s crowd, who delight in material from the upcoming debut album ‘You Signed Up For This’.
Peters occupies an enchanting niche, sitting comfortably between indie and synthy alt pop – a fact further cemented by the occasional appearance of a key-tar. New releases like ‘Psycho’ and the title track of her aforementioned album follow deeply relatable themes centred around millennial romance and the not so enjoyable experience of being dumped. As she sources a recently dumped crowd member to dedicate ‘You Signed Up For This’ to, Peters begins to feel more like a best friend than a performer.
There’s an incredibly sweet tone that underpins Maisie Peters’ personality, from her soft speaking voice to her impressive vocal range. Encapsulating the family feel of the festival, bubbles blow across the stage adding to the upbeat attitude seeping it’s way through the crowd.
The more synth driven moments allow Peters to zip about the stage, revelling in her own performance. Akin to the energy of Sigrid and the slightly otherworldly stylings of Aurora, there aren’t many British acts doing it like Maisie Peters.
Women’s Prize For Fiction
It’s incredible to think of the gripping tales that have had their time in their limelight over the past 26 years, thanks to the Women’s Prize for Fiction – and we feel privileged to have been a part of this over recent years. Back once again in their home of the Listening Post, and unable to celebrate their 25th anniversary last year, the panel instead took a slightly delayed opportunity to look back at the winners that inspired them.
It’s an unenviable task for moderator Kate Mosse, Laura Bates and Shazia Mirza, but they all have their personal favourites. For Laura Bates, well-known as the creator of Everyday Sexism and previous panel judge, it was 1996 winner ‘A Spell of Winter’ by Helen Dunmore. Calling it “viscerally moving”, she spoke of how she believes it’s books like this which is why the Women’s Prize for Fiction needs to exist.
Comedian Shazia Mirza chose ‘A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing’ by Eimear McBride. For Mirza, the pioneering structure, all broken sentences and stream of consciousness, has parallels with the way stand up comedy is delivered. She told the attentive crowd of how she found the book when McBride told of her strict religious upbringing in Northern Ireland during an interview, and how despite the difference in their religions, her upbringing resonated so strongly. They discussed the book’s publishing history, rejection after rejection for over ten years, only gaining prominence after being shortlisted and celebrated by the prize.
For author Kate Mosse, it was 2005’s champion ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’, penned by Lionel Shriver. Despite its stratospheric rise in popularity due to its film adaptation, Moose tells the story of how it was actually the most divisive winner in its history, causing the longest ever judging meeting of over five hours long. Indeed, it was only the fact that they’d spoken about the book for so long that made the judging panel realise its importance.
Throwing it back to the glory days of British indie, Swim Deep are the perfect fit for a night under The Ballroom’s disco ball.
Front man Austin’s signature vocal overlays spangly guitars and even the odd tambourine or two. Classic fan favourites ‘Honey’ and ‘King City’ transport the crowd back to the bustling Birmingham scene of 2013. For a brief 40 minutes, the whole Ballroom is transfixed by this amalgamation of baggy 90s elements lifted straight from The Stone Roses, to the more contemporary gentle rock flourishes.
As the opening bars of ‘To Feel Good’ are warmly embraced by the audience, Swim Deep transform into a more self assured version of themselves. There is still an inherent softness and vulnerability, but with just a light sprinkle of bravado.
Many of Swim Deep’s tracks belong in cult coming of age films, such is their ability to soundtrack first loves and teenage obsession. The golden age of Brummy indie might be a distant memory for some, but with Swim Deep it’s clear that that memorable era won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Wolf Alice Film Screening and Q&A
You wouldn’t think they were mere hours away from, in their own words, “the biggest gig of their life”. Yet just before headlining the Obelisk Arena, Wolf Alice were fielding questions from a baying crowd as part of a Q&A.
The band were here to introduce a screening of their companion movie to their hit #1 (and as of this weekend now Mercury nominated) album ‘Blue Weekend’. Sat side by side, the group were in a lively mood, no sense of nerves between them. “We look like we’re about to do a Westlife cover,” Joel snarks, as we secretly hope for a key change as they stand up from their chairs.
The moderator gets some good facts about the mini-movie. Though not a concept album, the themes and motifs of ‘Blue Weekend’ played to creating a companion piece about a twisted night out. Split into 11 chapters – one for each song on the album – everything was just filmed in a colossal eight days. An incredible achievement considering the original plan was devised just so they could sit in a pub post-lockdown.
It all descended into hilarious chaos when the crowd got involved. Questions come thick and fast:“What’s your favourite food?”. Beans pretty much across the board, apparently.
What’s the setlist for their headline set going to be? “Mainly Supergrass covers”. Where do they see themselves in five years? “Covered in baked beans”. Even the band admit “this is getting out of hand” as questions fly left, right and centre.
However no one could possibly top the man who jumped up and shouted with a defying confidence “I’m sorry but I forgot your name and missed making the Mastermind final”. After the band cheered him on and joined the crowd in an elated ovation, that was their cue to leave, as the film played on to a chuckling horde of superfans.
In nearly twenty years Hot Chip have amassed an enviable back catalogue of hits and a stagecraft to know how to use them. From the moment set opener and all-round banger ‘Harachi Lights’ booms through the BBC Sounds Stage, it’s clear we’re in for something very special tonight.
Tonight the electronic pop pioneers are down a couple of members, but you would never tell from the energy streaming from the stage, lapped up by the bopping horde in front of them. It’s these beats that we and every festivalgoer have been waiting months for; that euphoric release of the club, but under our massive tent. Classics like ‘Over and Over’ got the crowd roaring along to Alexis Taylor’s delicate but infinitely catchy vocals and despite getting its first live airing, ‘Straight to the Morning’ receives a reaction like it’s sat atop a greatest hits collection.
The group never just wanted to play it straight however, whether it be down to improvising their way out of their more lean line up than usual, or not. Tracks like ‘Boy From School’ hit hard, but also metamorphose. As the band checked in with each other through looks alone, the tune eased its way into a slow jam revision of itself, smooth as silk in a night of big beats. They gave just enough of a glimpse to another side of a live Hot Chip before they put the foot down hard on the pedal, going all out rave with the gleaming light show to match.
A night that will go down with the classics.
If you’re headlining the Comedy Arena, you’re guaranteed a lovely, receptive audience. You’re also guaranteed a HUGE audience, with the tent swelling with hundreds of people out all the way past the sound barriers. So it takes a brave headliner to “try some new stuff”, notes in hand. It shows the genius of Simon Amstell that there’s yet another guarantee: it’s all going to be hilarious.
With his new tour ‘Spirit Hole’ impending, his first in years, this was a golden opportunity for the Latitude crowd to get a first glimpse, even as Amstell tried some new bits. Amstell’s style has always been introverted both in content and delivery. He cuts a humble figure on our massive stage, which only played to his strength as he delivered his thoughts on his own neuroses. Nowadays, he flits between anecdotes of his recent experiences – as he has tried to expand his life experiences in love, sex and spirituality – and observations about life. A good chunk of his set spins around a trip to an ayahuasca retreat, as he and his partner tried to find themselves. He balances tales of his conversations with shamans with wry looks on happiness. Are we all trying to find happiness – or are we just trying to win?
It’s the unexpected Latitude moments that provided the most uproars of laughter, as Amstell experienced a tête-à-tête with the BSL signers. Unsure how they would be able to sign material not quite suitable for a family friendly website like ours, they not only begin to create the punchlines themselves, they engage through sign in witty retorts with the comedian. They even get an offer of a UK tour coming up soon after multiple applause breaks. Look out for them on the poster, we say.
There is a special kind of band who have seemed festival headliner worthy from the get go – Wolf Alice are precisely that. Their ascendancy to top billing in the Obelisk Arena feels like a culmination of nearly 10 years toiling away.
Ellie Rowsell and her compelling stage presence are in control right from the start. Early hits like ‘Bros’ are seamlessly woven between tracks from the number one album, ‘Blue Weekend’, with each hard hitting guitar anthem followed swiftly by a more tender moment.
As the disco ball descends to signal the arrival of ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, groups of friends begin to embrace and take in the core themes of friendship that underpins much of Wolf Alice’s music. ‘Giant Peach’ then kicks proceedings up several gears, the biting guitars stabbing and gnawing their way through the arena. There are plenty of cathartic screams let out during the set as Rowsell and her boys unleash their headliner worthy swagger upon the world.
One of the most euphoric moments comes during newer release ‘Last Man On Earth’, which has quickly become a fan favourite. The swelling chorus burgeons in size and as the crescendo hits, the band cement themselves not just as a headliner, but as a safe pair of hands.
Wolf Alice have worked their socks off to get where they are, and tonight shows that hard work has not gone unrewarded. This headline slot feels like a true graduation to the big leagues.