The best of the philosophy and music festival's first four daysby Josh Lowe / May 29, 2014 / Leave a comment
Prospect spent the Bank Holiday weekend at HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, which runs until 1st June.
Here’s a taster of what we got up to:
The Globe, the festival’s permanent venue, ran parties every night over the weekend
The first major philosophy session “Heresy, Truth and the Future” focused on the festival’s central themes, providing some much-needed intellectual respite from the unrelenting rain. The panel comprised an all-star line-up. Outspoken columnists David Aaronovitch and Laurie Penny, squared up against former GCHQ director David Omand, and sociologist Frank Furedi.
Penny’s arguments were the best received, and she was loudly applauded for her description of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden as “modern day heretics”, drawing a comparison with William Tyndale who first translated the Bible into English and was burned at the stake for his pains. David Omand put forward the more moderate view that not all heretics are geniuses, and counselled caution against those who court the spotlight through outrageous behaviour.
David Aaronovitch broadened the definition of a “modern heretic” to include Ukip, and asked the question; “should heresy be applauded if it threatens social cohesion?” Frank Furedi then calmed our fears by pointing out that the crux of the issue was our individual capacity to tolerate heresy. A point which resonated with the wellie wearing audience. After a lively question and answer session, the speakers were presented with sunflowers, a welcome counter to the external gloom.
Alexis Taylor, of the band Hot Chip, played a solo set on Friday night, his first UK date on a tour to promote upcoming album Await Barbarians (out 10th June).
Taylor describes his solo music as “pensive,” and that’s certainly the word for it. He and his band stare into the middle distance as they build their meandering, introspective songs from a timid whisper to a soulful crescendo. Most begin with sparse chords, coaxed from a vibrato-laden guitar or stuttering feebly out of a synth. There’s a definite jazz influence in the clattering, circular drums (both analogue and digital) that drive each number to its conclusion.
But, though meandering, the heart of the music is pop. Taylor’s soaring voice picks out gorgeous hooks over Motown-influenced four or five chord progressions. Later in the set, things get slightly funky, with squelchy synths pulsing beneath wah-wah guitars. He covers Hot Chip’s singalong ballad…