Latitude 2014

Phosphorescent brings the calm to Latitude 2014

Obelisk Arena is drawn to a beautiful hush on the Sunday afternoon.

Words: Rachel Pronger

After a rousing, hands in the air set from eccentric supergroup Atomic Bomb!, it falls to Phosphorescent to take to the Obelisk Stage and carry the crowd along on a slower, less showy wave of softly spoken, blues soaked Americana.

Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck arrives accompanied by a band of doppelgängers, all in matching beards and shades like some low key slacker twist on the Ramones, to bring us a woozy set that sends sprawling tentacles outward into a small but rapt crowd. The weather is on the turn, sunny skies turning ominously grey, but a pensive smattering of drizzle seems apt for a singer whose voice quavers and the quakes, always on the brink of tearstained despair. Songs merge together in the suddenly cool air, a mesh of mournful slide guitar, Southern-tinged peddle steel and lilting, half mumbled melodies.

Houck stands reticent behind shades, but then you don’t really need niceties like introductions when you’re wearing your own band T-shirt. The standout numbers come predominately from last year’s ‘Muchacho’ LP, a document of the dizzying dishevelment of life on the road that gains grit and intensity live. Tracks such as ‘Terror of the Canyon’ are bolstered by raw, roaring guitar that plays up evocatively against the soft rasp of crackling smoke-stained vocals. A delicate, fingerpicked ‘Song for Zula’, a standout on the album, also rises above the wash here, as lyrics normally rendered in soft focus rise to the surface. “You see honey, I am now some broken thing” Houck declares, the catch in his voice testament to his heartbreak,

It’s not a roof-raiser, more a sitting on the grass and dreaming of Route 61 kind of set, but on a shattered Sunday afternoon that’s a pretty lovely thing. At least that’s the mood until the finale, when with a last minute surge of energy Houck breaks into the stomping road trip rock of ‘Ride On/Right On’ and a muscular bass groove, whooping vocal and swaggering shout along chorus worthy of Springsteen conspire to get the crowd on their feet. A gloriously dishevelled set.

DIY is the official media partner at Latitude 2014. We’ll be bringing you extensive coverage from in and around the fest, and you can find copies of the July 2014 issue in the Latitude supermarket!

Tags: Phosphorescent, Latitude, Festivals, Reviews, Live Reviews

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