Benn Arrives At Right Latitude

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn said he has spent two years bedding in Latitude Festival and this year’s edition has put the event where he’s always wanted it to be.

"I think it added up to more than the sum of its individual parts," he told Pollstar, as The Independent began what soon turned out to be a chorus of approval for the 25,000-capacity leftfield festival on the Suffolk coast.

The paper said Latitude’s three-year life span has seen it go from being "a boutique event and a reasonably well-kept secret to a major date on the festival calendar." Benn said he intends to keep it as is for a couple of years.

Acknowledging that any business obviously needs to turn as much profit as possible and that Latitude sold out seven weeks in advance, he said he still prefers to cap the event at its current size for a couple of years.

"Eventually I’ll grow it but probably not beyond 30,000 as it has an intimacy that I’d like to maintain," he explained.

The festival’s rise has been meteoric. Benn admitted to struggling the first year when it did barely 20,000 weekend tickets. But – arguably spurred on by the enthusiasm of the crowd and some glowing reviews – he upped it from three days to four and it sold out in its second year.

This year it seems everything came together for the event that Benn said has an atmosphere more like the "Hay-On-Wye literary festival in Wales" than the big rock outdoors he works on at Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury.

He once said he wanted Latitude to be like "engrossing yourself in a quality Sunday paper," although an impressive list of emerging rock acts have used it as a launch pad to better things.

Live Nation promoter Jon Dunn, who programmes the main stage, has already attracted Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Snow Patrol, and The Zutons to the sleepy Suffolk countryside near Southwold, and this year managed to add Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros, Interpol, and Guillemots to the list.

Rather than creating a festival he knew people would like, Benn has designed one people have come to like and are beginning to love, while thoroughly enjoying every step of the learning curve.

Other acts helping Latitude to wow the newspapers July 17-20 included Death Cab For Cutie, British Sea Power, Beth Orton, dEUS, Foals, Blondie, and Beth Rowley.