Lovebox - REVIEW!

We went donwn to Lovebox last weekend, here is what we thought...

Eva Oyon

Last updated: 23rd Jul 2009

Now in its seventh year Lovebox has firmly established itself as one of the key London Summer Festivals.  This year, with an increased capacity, bigger stages and a lineup including the likes of; Duran Duran, Groove Armada, N*E*R*D*, Florence and the Machine, Friendly Fires, Simian Mobile Disco, Noah and the Whale... to name just a few... it was set to be one of the highlights of the Summer. With Latitude and Glade going on at the same time – Lovebox provided a lighter alternative with lots of easy entertainment, an early finish and a manageable Monday hangover.  This festival allows you to spend a fun day out with great music, delicious food and the comfort of being able to go to a nice warm bed afterwards or keep on raving if you have the energy!! Saturday was the party day at Lovebox with a really friendly crowd that was clearly up for a fun and hassle free day. It was all going off in the secretsundaze arena at the beginning of the afternoon. The atmosphere was buzzing and the tunes heavy, with lots of neon-dressed festival goers shaking their thing happily and energetically. The rizla stage also had a special energy with Idjut Boys playing a great set from 17:30 – 19:30 inspiring people to pull out some pretty funky moves. Being under the trees the stage provided shelter from the rain and turned it into a little bubble of fun whilst others were stuck in the rain or even worse, waiting in the queue to get in!!

N*E*R*D* put on an enjoyable show, despite the relatively small audience for such a big name. They seemed to be having just as much fun as the crowd though and even pulled a group of girls on stage to get involved and shake their booty to “She Wants to Move” – cheesy but fun. The guitar accompaniment completely transformed the songs but Pharrell’s microphone was too low which meant he was often impossible to hear.

Friendly Fires stole the day and pretty much the whole festival with their headlining performance on the Gaymers Stage at the end of the night. Their powerful performance with an amazing lightshow to boot confirmed their worthy nomination for the Mercury awards this week. The band played a mixture of old and new songs. “Kiss of Life” due to come out and the end of the month, get better every time you hear it and got a great reaction. The definite highlights were “Jump in the Pool” and “Paris” which had people smiling and singing along. A fresh performance with some songs sounding even better live provided the perfect end to a fun-filled day leaving the crowd buzzing and hungry for more. As it should be.

The only downfall of the Saturday was that given the popularity there were bigger queues throughout the festival. Even the VIP area provided little improvement. There were often waits to get into tents but people seemed happy enough to bop along to the music and wait patiently. There was still space to walk around with plenty of space for eating and drinking and enjoying the smaller acts which were walking around the park and performing.

Sunday was a complete contrast with a more relaxed atmosphere and people looking to wrap up the weekend. There were much fewer people which refreshingly meant virtually no queues. Sunday was more about the music with even more exciting than the previous day. Although people were a lot less hype the atmosphere was still really positive and there was more room to dance. Diplo’s set in the rizla tent was another highlight of the festival. He served up an energetic and varied set dropping some M.I.A. and Major Lazer tunes whilst cranking up the bass. He finished with some bouncy dupstep that made for a smooth transition over to Annie Nightingale.
Her mixing was horrendous with transitions between songs feeling like a bump on the head but the variation made up for it giving people a renewed energy and enthusiasm with every song.

As the first flecks of rain washed over the festival on Sunday evening, a timid looking Noah and The Whale took to the stage. The band are due to release their second album next month and the new tracks proved a ray of sunshine in a performance which was a variable as the weather. None of the first album’s jaunty fiddle-tastic pop rock sound was apparent in their opening exchanges with the crowd, who seemed shocked at the stripped back nature performance. The album is immeasurably better with vocals from Laura Marling and the brass accompaniment, both of which are noticeable in their absence on stage. Their sound on record, both big and jaunty, was nowhere to be hard, replaced with thin, down tempo and sombre sounds. Lead singer Charlie Fink sang with little of the passion which oozes on record and looked more like a festival first timer than the front man of a band that had gained commercial and critical success. But as they reached their better known and more upbeat numbers, a warm response from the small crowd clearly relaxed the group and who began to look more at ease. The final songs which were delivered with more gusto happily coincided with the re-appearance of the sun.

As Groove Armada are there every year there wasn’t much excitement surrounding their set but it’s still pulled a big crowd who looked to be having a great time and exhausting their last bits of energy dancing. Simian Mobile disco on the other hand created a much more vibrant vibe making the Relentless stage the one to finish the festival with. The atmosphere was alive and the huge flames coming out of the stage impressed and motivated people to the point that some looked like they were just getting started.

With great music and an even better atmosphere Lovebox is definitely worth a visit. It is an ideal festival for Londoners who don’t fancy travelling and camping and is a great day out for anyone visiting London for the weekend. Perhaps one day's visit is enough, if you want a party go on Saturday, if you are more about the music go on Sunday.

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Eva Oyon