With Belle & Sebastian, The xx
Belle and Sebastian at Latitude Festival

The sheep are still pink, the sun is still shining and Clash stumbled into the morning heat and straight into the second stage to catch School Of Seven Bells. Slap bang in the middle of the weekend, the Brooklyn trio are the ideal tonic for aching, reddened heads. Their newly released second album 'Disconnect From Desire,' is a more focused effort than their first, with the emphasis firmly on a blissful noisy haze.

'ILU' and 'Windstorm' sound huge, and twin vocalists Claudia and Alejandra Deheza create harmonies sweeter than the contents of every ice cream van on site put together.
School Of Seven Bells make loud beautiful and beautiful loud, a magic cacophony that has no right to be as perfect and effortless as it is.

Saturday afternoon brought a duo of surprising discoveries, the first being Frightened Rabbit. A rag tag bunch of Scottish folkies, all beards and denim, they put in a performance that is best summed up by Clash's neighbour in the crowd, ‘Fucking amazing.' Eloquent descriptions aside, the band are brilliant under the tarpaulin of the second stage. There's swaying, fist pumping and pints flying everywhere, to a soundtrack of often lovelorn, always anthemic folk rock.

More potty mouths can be found onstage as front man Scott Hutchinson slurs "Fucking's great isn't it, have you heard of it?" before launching into 'Living In Colour.' Sprinklings of fellow countrymen Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand and even Primal Scream are evident in the way they charm the crowd into submission with their chant-along onslaught.

After the whiskey soaked madness of Frightened Rabbit comes discovery number two, Zun Zun Egui on The Lake Stage. Dolled up like an Inca tribe dressed by Oxfam, this Bristol four piece deliver a mind bending blend of world, prog, punk and funk, with just about everything else thrown on top. Coming on like a Mexican White Denim their sprawling songs are dominated in turn by rumbling bass, noodling guitar and interminable vocal yelping and screeching. To say that they are like no other band anywhere near a festival stage this summer is an understatement.

To the main stage and The Maccabees. Orlando Weeks and co. are by now comfortably able to fill the sunset slot on a big stage and after a slow start 'First Love,' 'Toothpaste Kisses,' and 'X-Ray' are a formidable prelude to a double whammy in the encore of 'No Kind Words' and 'Love You Better.' Always heartfelt, forever improving, The Maccabees look ready to tear up Reading and Leeds in a few weeks.

Crystal Castles may seem and odd choice, their black clad crustiness is more than a little out of step with the tone of the weekend. However, Alice and Ethan’s special brand of dance abomination, whips the crowd up into a mess of flailing arms and legs. Alice Glass is compelling. Gyrating, falling over, and swigging Jim Beam, she spends a full two songs in the crowd, with bemused security almost giggling in disbelief.

But whatever Alice gets up to, it is the music that hits home. The duo show that they can do catchy and tuneful just as well as they can exhaust pipe abrasiveness. This fascinating combination of musical minds saw them win over what could have been a difficult crowd.
Before headliners The xx, strains of The Horrors' take on Krautrock seep from the second stage. Closer inspection confirms what we already knew. That second album was one of the best of last year and a perfect 'Sea Within A Sea' is sparse, intimate reminder.

Sparse intimacy is what The xx do best and tonight they are stunning. Dubstep breakdowns and slow burning layers of noise are cleverly segued into their set, (as is a taste of ATB), but it is a thunderous 'Basic Space' and a bass driven 'Shelter' that shine.

Beats man Jamie makes so much noise that the tent is very real danger of collapse, and the mutation from ethereal on record to a cavernous, hypnotic live show is a perfect reflection on just how good these three shy south Londoners really are.

Back outside for a sprint to the climax of Belle And Sebastian's loved up set (an ovation of Biblical proportions testament to their impact), and the oestrogen overkill of GAGGLE.
Their choral weirdness is boy-baiting, heavy drinking and well, more than just a bit strange. Standout 'I'm a Drunk' prepares us for a second night's foray into the forest for a skank fest with Gentleman's Dub Club and a bemusing set of Christmas songs. You couldn't make it up.

Words by Ben Homewood

View an accompanying gallery from Saturday at the Latitude Festival HERE.


Check out more coverage from the Latitude Festival 2010:

Friday Review
Friday Gallery

Sunday Review
Sunday Gallery

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