Reviewed: Lovebox Festival 2019
Lovebox Festival 2019 managed to pull in some pretty big names from the dance world as returned to its new home of Gunnersbury Park for a second time. From inviting Patrick Topping to curate his own tent, to calling up Annie Mac to roll out AMP and inviting Four Tet to take over the mainstage, the succinct selection of DJs was an interesting one; eclectic, interesting and overall, pretty darn entertaining.
Against the beating sun, partygoers from across the city flocked to West London, the crowd like many London festivals nowadays, felt young and high-spirited. The festival itself felt a lot more compact than previous years at Victoria Park, and consistently struggled with sound from the main stage. The real signal of this was when conversations in the crowd could be heard over the headline artists performance. Nevertheless, the beauty of having a handful of DJs in tents meant that, for most of it at least, you could still have a dance without overhearing whatever Love Island drama the people next to you were discussing.
Friday was a lot more tame by comparison to Saturday. For starters, the crowd was about half the size, and half the age. While hip-hop heavyweights pulled in crowd to the mainstage, the Big Top came to life as Unleash took over. Particularly dazzling performances came from Swiss duo Adriatique, who brought acid-tinged techno and hypnotic grooves before welcoming the stunning Guy Gerber, who turned the tent into a mystical paradise. Follow this up with an awe-inspiring set from Solomun, whose eclectic set dipped into dark and trippy tracks before surging into uplifting euphoria, twisting and turning throughout.
An honourable mention must also go to Kaytranada, who was a personal favourite of the day, bringing an epic back catalogue of hits alongside a few new tracks. As crowds spilled out of the Noisey tent, he opened with ‘Chances’ before plunging into quintessential summer pop hits ‘Kaleidoscope Love’ and ‘Glowed Up’ with grainey imagery and graphic typography displayed behind him.
Saturday had plenty more on offer, with AMP on the Blu Stage, Patrick Topping’s takeover of Big Top and Four Tet on the mainstage. With greater crowds and a much richer selection of artists to choose from, the day felt a lot busier, hotter and more vibrant. Ross From Friends was a smart choice for the Noisey stage, with crowds spilling out to catch a glimpse of the captivating British DJ whose tracks ‘The Revolution’ and ‘Epiphany’ felt particularly magical against the scorching sun. Over at AMP, breakthrough talent, Jadya G drew in a mass of spectators as she brought full-on funk and soul to the forefront of her joyous set.
Throwing in Floorplan for good measure, the AMP takeover was a haven for raucous partying. As the dynamic duo of Robert Hood and Lyric wrapped up with ‘So Glad’, it was time for Annie Mace herself to follow. She plunged into ‘Discogirl’ which kept her crowd grooving before leading into The Martinez Brothers’ ‘What Have You Done For me Lately’ a track that seemed to appear multiple times throughout the weekend.
Meanwhile, burgeoning Belgian star Charlotte De Witte captivated crowds as she pulled out big hitters like ‘Selected’ alongside a handful of brooding techno tunes. This was swiftly followed by a visit from stage curator Patrick Topping who ignited the stage with his own bewitching tracks like ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ with a scattering of others from his extensive back catalogue. However, there were clashes aplenty as Four Tet was playing on the mainstage while the Topping takeover was in full swing. Playing to an unusually sparse crowd, the reduced sound quality seemed to dampen the impact of his otherworldly tunes. It felt somewhat strange that he didn’t pull in the numbers, considering he had sold-out Alexandra Palace only a couple of months prior. Regardless, tracks like the luscious ‘LA Trance’ were still galvanising as the day drew to a close.
Lovebox may seem to be a little unclear in what it’s offering, as the hard-hitting techno contrasted vividly with the youthful R&B, hip-hop performers and young, rowdy crowds. Despite its consistent wrestling with sound issues on the bigger stage, it pulled through. It’s hard not to love Lovebox, and with spellbinding performances from a spectrum of dance talent throughout the experience, you can’t help but feel like things will only get better