The Intergalactic Republic Of Kongo are like nothing else.
Mike Title is the visionary leading this gang of musicians, brought together from across Europe, North and West Africa with a dizzying array of influences and sounds, each one essential with Mike orchestrating the chaos.
In the old days, if you came across a Jesus, you just followed him. Long hair, intense stare, white flowing robes, charisma, beard. Sign me up. But that was the old days, when there was only one. These days there is a Jesus on every street corner and the modern Jesus consumer is wary and wily. No one wants to be duped into following a second tier Jesus.
It was perhaps this pervasive Jesus-savviness that caught in the wheels of the Intergalactic Republic of Kongo’s set. The 17 year old girls who had been firmly told by their parents “Yes, you may stamp ‘BOOB LOVE’ on your chest, but no, you may not join a cult” were following instructions obediently and refusing to get as amped up as frontman Mike Title wanted.
This led Title to pause the set, jump down into the crowd and interrogate them. The questioning went along the lines of:
Mike Title: “How much did you pay to be here?”
Unnerved teenager: “£200?”
MT: “Two hundred quid? So throw yourself into it! How much did you pay for that beer?”
UT: “Uh… like, a tenner?”
MT: “No wonder no one’s drunk!”
This served the purpose of separating the sheep from the goats. The goats got far enough away for Title’s mike lead not to reach them. The sheep surged in. I was among them.
Towards the end of the set Title felt that the following had grown strong enough to support a minor miracle, and he launched himself into the crowd. The technician who was in charge of the mike lead not breaking sprang anxiously into position to pay out enough for whatever Title was planning.
“If you’re having a good time throw dirt in the air!!”
The air filled with dirt. I threw dirt in the air. The technician did not. Title strutted about shouting exciting gibberish while the band blasted out discordant riffs. Someone launched themselves at Title and hugged him. I launched myself in and joined the hug. I assumed it would turn into a giant hugball, but I think it topped out at five. All five of us, the faithful, united in a physical, sweaty, dirt smeared, electro-thrash embrace. The ecstatic moment came to an awkward end as Title’s mike was unplugged by the technician, and he was forced to take the hint that the set was over.
I spoke to an open-jawed group of sober onlookers who turned out to be the Solas stage production team that had booked the band. “We were thinking that Latitude is quite a ‘safe’ festival and we’d like to introduce something with a little more edge” one said. “But I think that might have been too much.”
Maybe Latitude wasn’t for them or maybe they weren’t for Latitude, but I will be seeking out the Intergalactic Republic of Kongo wherever they are not banned.