Still a landmark date in any self-respecting London ravers calendar each year, Lovebox Festival, in East London’s Victoria Park, brings with it a reputation of providing a breadth of genres over its two day soiree. A whole host of cool kids and party revellers from all around join the shenanigans, in what is hotly tipped as one of the ones in the bracket ‘not to miss.’
With its cross-city rival SW4 coming into its own in the last few years, Lovebox has had to rise to the challenge to keep its number one slot at the top of the London dance festival mantelpiece. A lineup to stand up to most others was duly delivered with many of dance music’s main DJs featuring on the bill, alongside some of the hottest new chart sensations like Jack Garratt and Odessa. We were also being treated to a much anticipated and long awaited return to the stage for New York dance-punk protagonists LCD Soundsystem. Heading up the main stage on the much sought after Saturday night slot, James Murphy with his seven piece-unit behind him, we were going to be in for a memorable treat.
It’s for this reason alone that I decided to venture down for the Saturday’s festivities given the tricky choice of the two. Scorching weekend weather greeted me upon arrival and it was straight to the main stage to take in the foremost innovator of funk himself, Mr. George Clinton. Never one to shy away from the limelight and hide from a crowd, I was instantly taken in by the Clinton bravado so famously explored, and the action-packed circus that always follows was all to see with a typically brash and untouchable spectacle performed by the man.
Deciding to continue on with the circus act madness I make my way over to Europe’s most talked about party brand at the moment, the Elrow Stage. Elrow thrives on its theatrics and thrills, and with its production levels reaching overdrive on this perfect sunny afternoon; I’m soon hit with inflatables, streams, and balloons galore, whilst the equally colourful beats of Andres Campo and Steve Lawler envelope my ears. It’s a sea of enjoyment for all involved and has the perfect balance of energetic, sharp, and groove-ridden house/techno tracks to accompany it.
Wondering over to catch Swedish indie pop stalwarts Miike Snow mid-set, their infectious hooks and instantly recognisable lyrics are sung vociferously by the hefty following to which they encounter themselves performing to. Not to be outdone, chart-sensation Jungle follow up and bring with them their usual collection of sing-along beats. ‘Busy Earnin’ brings with it an array of fake horns and a smack you in the face bassline and ‘The Heat’ is its usual, dreamy and groove laden self that has each attendee swaying in synchronized appreciation.
Eventually, it’s time for the main animal. The 5-year hiatus was to crumble before us and for what many had thought was a lost live opportunity, was now back in front of us and snarling and raring to go. Murphy himself was all action from the off and cowbell accompanied, he launched into a crescendo of hits that bought a mockery of the idea that this was to be a nostalgic nightmare. ‘Tribulations’ is as frantic as once remembered in ones memory and ‘Losing My Edge’ hints of nothing of the sort. This is Murphy and his ensemble at not far off their finest and it’s glorious in each and every way. With ‘All My Friends’ bringing us predictably to a fascinating close, Lovebox lives to breathe at the top of the pack for another year, and 20,000 partygoers find it hard not to agree.
– Pete Downes