Friday started off with a slightly too muggy, slightly too humid and slightly overcast weather forecast. Despite this, the crowds at Lovebox were not deterred. The thousands of glittery attendees flocked to Victoria Park for the first of two days of incredible music.
The eclectic lineup ranged from The Menendez Brothers to RUFUS to KiNK, Madam X, Jamie xx, Kaytranada and headliner Frank Ocean. Covering a multitude of genres and catering to everyone’s needs.
As we walked up to the entrance, the atmosphere was electric. The anticipation was growing, as we discussed who we wanted to see, how good they would be, and how we would manage the inevitable clashing schedule. Unfortunately it was impossible to see all of the performers we wanted, however, the ones that we did manage to see did not disappoint.
Kicking the day off for us Terry Francis, performing at the fabric tent, this resident did not disappoint his audience. It’s also important to note how dazzling the stage itself was; with a booth covered in mirrors, mirrored beams and glaring lights, it felt like a space-age rave cave. Throughout the day, this feeling was fuelled by stunning sets courtesy of KiNK, Seth Troxler, Bicep and many, many more.
On the Noisey stage, a personal favourite. Haitian super-producer and DJ, Kaytranada. Blasting tunes from his infamous debut, 99.9% he blew the crowd away with his diverse repertoire. This was shortly followed by a performance by Bicep in the fabric tent. The bloggers-turned-DJs displayed their substantial knowledge of electronic, providing their audience with a set that was eclectic, funky and undoubtedly satisfying.
One of the worst clashes that we faced was between Eats Everything, Jamie xx and Seth Troxler. This lead to us legging it across Victoria Park, attempting to all three of them. Bristol’s own Eats Everything brought his own signature underground flavour to it all at the monumental Transistor stage, which was made to look like a giant radio, with the DJ booth looming over the partiers below. Jamie xx blew away his audience at the Main Stage too, as the sun began to set and the sky turned to a burnt orange glow, he dazzled us with old-school funk and groovy house tunes that have now become his signature.
Then it was the turn of everyone’s favourite American techno DJ, hailing from the Detroit scene, his set was bound to be good, and let’s face it, no festival lineup is complete without him. The audience went wild for the charismatic, and humble performer. As he waved to screaming fans and danced along with them until the sun went down.
It’s also worth mentioning Frank Ocean, perhaps he’s not a typical performer that we would write about at DT, but he was the headliner. He was 20 minutes late on stage, in typical style (at least he showed up) and was followed around closely by a cameraman who later turned out to be Spike Jones. The images on screen were candid DIY-style close-ups of Ocean reacting to the crowd, smiling with his guitarist Alex G and capturing his sense of timidness as he returned to the stage after his hiatus. All in all, the performance was sweet yet slightly underwhelming, we were left wishing for more of his Channel Orange work, as he only performed ‘Thinkin Bout You’, although he did do it twice. Victoria Park’s noise restrictions also had an impact on the performance as we did struggle to hear him most of the time.
Nevertheless, the first day of Lovebox was a strong mix of genres and taste and set the bar high for the second day. We left feeling tired out, but beaming from cheek to cheek. There was plenty of anticipation for what was yet to come as we prepared ourselves for more great experiences with some world-class performers.
There’s no denying that Lovebox has become one of the “It” festivals of the UK summer season, it’s hardly a surprise since they really embrace the entertainment engagement of a true carnival. Besides showcasing top billers across R&B, Hip-Hop, House and Techno, revellers could also rollerblading to disco music or get a polaroid snap at Diesel boutique stall, it was very all-inclusive, very satisfying.
The sky wasn’t clear and bright on Saturday but that streak of excitement is nowhere diminished, it took almost half hour to get through the entrance, and that was the Press queue.. Glittered adorning blonde, bowl-hair Thrashers lads were spotted, it was definitely a younger crowd compared to Friday, and definitely I’d rejoin them under Noisey, Fabric or Transistor stage.
Quickly bulk-buying refreshment to avoid any standby time, I was caught swivelling under a big radio box of its aptly named: Transistor stage, the Solardo boys were spacing messy funky loops 30 metres above and ground, with occasion of skip-beat hi-hats and cheeky vocals that very essential to this duo’s sound: an appealing built-up set for the tech-house masters: Jamie Jones, Richy Ahmed.
Our drift, however, was begging for a darker vibe; we marched to the Fabric tent where the heat was melting and boiling at the same time, not only by anticipation for Ricardo Villalobos due to his cancellation last year, but also for the RA’s Top-1 DJ, Dixon was transitioning in with his usual rhythms of German novelty, marking his rank through genius percussives and layering atmospherics that only a true master could have done.
The night quickly approached and ushered us to the mainstage, much loved drum ‘n’ bass band Chase & Status pleased the thirsty crowds with “This Moment” , “Let You Go” and a special appearance of Emeli Sandé for their new release “Love Me More”. It really “mellows” the techno shock that was peaking at the other side of the park.
Lovebox represents everything that is a quintessentially British scene, the people, the set-up, the billers, it’s the Coachella of United Kingdom.