Lovebox is back again for its yearly party in Vicky Park. Not filled with bells and whistles, the festival fits as much music as it can on the bill. The two day affair is definitely split by the days. From soulful Frank Ocean to big hitters Chase & Status, you couldn’t find more different urban music on offer. The sound of the city divided by the days. The isolated loneliness of a crowd to the rush of excitement from a shared experience.
Friday was all about Solange and Frank Ocean. With Frank taking over the main stage with a large runway and extra, inward-facing repeater stacks, it looked like a stage that was hard to connect with for everyone else. Solange opted to take on the smaller Noisy stage while Jamie XX had the difficult task of holding off the rush between the stages.
Frank Ocean opened up with ‘Solo’ perched on a small island on the end of a runway from the stage. Downtempo and introspective, a difficult headline performance to pull off. Within the semicircle of speaker stacks, pointed inwards, it gave the effect of Frank singing in an echoey club. Sometimes the vocals would pan around while the music came from the stage and others the words would bounce off the ‘walls’. It was a surreal experience at an outside festival, giving an intimate feel but I doubt I’d be saying that if I wasn’t inside the ‘speaker perimeter’.
The evening started with Kaytranada. His productions have a warmth that’s irresistible, from the offbeat ‘Vivid Dreams’ to the instantly recognisable ‘Together’. This was the start of a weekend wondering between the Noisy and Main stages all weekend. Mac Miller on the other hand went for the nominative determinism style wearing a bright yellow rain mac. Nestled inbetween the stages full of DJs the bandstand hosted a good list of reggae / ska / fusion bands. The Transistor stage gave people a massive radio to listen to filled with DJs in the middle of a large video screen accented by the usual lights and smoke. Fabric opted to have an outside stage this year as opposed to recreating the club in a field like last year. It helped with a more free-flowing festival.
The usual array of food stalls and bars scattered around the site. From jerk chicken to mac’n’cheese, noodles to posh chips, all bases are covered. The doom bar brought some welcome variation to the main bars alongside the Corona, Kopparberg and Smirnoff stages all with their own bars. If you felt the need you could even use the posh loos at £3 a plop! Luxury really does have a price.
Saturday was the party day. More upbeat and ready to go. Jesse Glynne brought some sparkle before the bass took over. Andy C had an intense set following Kurupt FM on the Noisy stage. Annie Mac on the other hand brought a gospel choir to get everyone singing. Kano was the best undercard though. Its always good playing to the home crowd but his grin was unmissable. The first grime tuba I’ve seen gave it extra womp.
The festival finished with Chase & Status and they wanted to have fun. The firebursts, confetti cannons, smoke, lasers and fireworks must have cost a small fortune. The stage setup hasn’t changed for many years, Andy Gangadeen’s spectacular drumkit (and drumming) sitting between the C and S of chase and status. Big visuals accompanied the duo alongside a number of guests including Kano, and Emeli Sande for ‘Love me More’. These guys have really taken the stadium drum and bass crown. It might not be revolutionary but it’s clearly enjoyable and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.
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