In the heart of London's east end, Victoria Park is home to some of London's best festivals. Easy access to the tube and plenty of space make it a top pick for some time out from the city.
Friday brought the party spirit with Diplo. Not content to just headline with Major Lazer, he threw in a DJ set too. Streamers, fire, lights, dancers and of course, the big tunes. For me though, Shy FX ticked all the boxes. Building from reggae to jungle and back without missing a beat. That Protoje - 'Who Knows' remix is heavy. David Rodigan featured the song heavily and both Diplo and Toddla T gave it a spin.
Stormzy, and Katy B both loved playing to home crowd on the main stage. Both pulled in decent crowds for evening slots while Run the Jewels struggled against what was effectively the headliners for the other stages. Katy B's show had all the works, with a big stage setup and 4 energetic backing dancers that would give Major Lazer's a run for their money.
The other stages scattered around the site included the Fabric tent (or sauna) with a laser show and dancefloor. There was a Jungle vibe at the elrow with inflatable everythings going around. Corona, Koppaberg and Jose Cuervo Tequila if sponsored stages are your thing. Each had their own styling and their own bars (unsurprisingly).
Saturday had an early billing for George Clinton: Mothership Reconnection and what a funky way to start the day it was. While George himself takes more of a backseat nowadays, content to let his band do the work, the energy and songs are still great. 'Flashlight' is a treat but 'One Nation Under A Groove' is the ticket. Sticking to the outside, enjoying the sunshine, the Soundcrash stage had me for most of the afternoon. Jamie Woon, and Oh Wonder were great to sit back, relax and enjoy the sun. With it being too hot to dance there was a clearly more relaxed atmosphere than the previous day.
LCD Soundsystem have had a few ups and downs this summer. From the accolades of their Coachella and Glastonbury shows, to the dire T in the Park set. You can almost see the relief on James Murphy's face during the opening of 'Us and Them', when the crowd are singing it back at him from the front to the back. 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House' follows and composure is back. With a setlist as well rehearsed as theirs its always going to sound perfect. Maybe because it was my fourth time seeing them, but some of the magic had slipped.
The festival as a whole is incredibly well run and well laid out – as you'd expect for something that's been running for over 10 years. Maybe as a response to the site break-ins at Wireless last year but security was very tight. The large numbers of security guards were disciplined and thorough. With bag checks, pat-downs, ticket checks, bag checks and sniffer dogs they were not just putting on a show. On the other hand, the few people I saw who'd over-indulged were promptly helped and medics were with the rapidly. Everything ran fairly seamlessly without any major bottlenecks except at some bars at peak times.
A common gripe with festivals…beer prices. £5.50 for a 440ml can of Becks Vier or Stella Cidre! None of the main bars even sold pints. The only pint I could find was the very nice Doom Bar but at £6 its pushing it even for London. The obvious price comparison for me is Field Day which was charging £4.50 for equivalent drinks at the main bars and had a 'street' of independent brewers selling pints at £5 a pop. I might have got the post-brexit blues but its not surprising people try to chance their luck with security after already paying so much for a ticket.
At the end of the day, festivals are judged on the music and Lovebox have it bang on. If the keep on booking the quality of acts they do, I'll keep on coming back.
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