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In the midst of festival season, last weekend saw Lovebox roll into town giving Londoners a little taste of the festival life right on their doorstep. With temperatures reaching scorching levels even though rain and thunder had been forecast throughout the week, revellers were treated to a wide range of acts from the world of dance, electronic, DnB and hip hop throughout Friday and Saturday.
As the crowds marched into Victoria Park shortly after 12pm on Saturday, the place was already buzzing. Over at The Manor, Ben Pearce was warming the crowds up nicely with a very decent house set that got the fairly substantial crowd moving and shaking. The Red Bull Music Academy tent was home to some powerful disco vibes all afternoon with Horse Meat Disco, Tensnake, Dimitri From Paris and Soul Clap all providing a strong finger wagging soundtrack.
On the other side of the festival the PBR Streetgang boys were taking care of business in the VIP area with Normski providing the LOLs all afternoon with his compeering skillz.
LA songstress BANKS, who could have quite easily played to an empty tent considering she clashed with Nas, was certainly a highlight of the day. The tent was jam packed with almost every song being sung in tandem with the crowd. ‘Fall Over’ and ‘Drowning’ certainly sparked huge sing alongs from a very pumped up crowd. Prior to that Mount Kimbie fired up the audience with some darker more edgy material.
So onto the main headliners of the day. Nas rolled through his seminal Illmatic album like a seasoned professional reminding everyone of just how good he as a performer and that album is and why it has stood the test of time for so long. The sound wasn’t as loud as I was expecting but it was loud enough to get the crowd going. Over at the Aperol Spritz Social, Norman Jay rolled though some classic 80’s tracks like Lionel Ritchie’s ‘All Night Long’ that kept the party going right up until MIA bounced onto the main stage shortly after 9.30pm. With the stage show awash with colour that wouldn’t have looked out of place at Holi Festval, the London born star kicked things off with some very heavy samples.
Within 10 minutes of coming on, she was already visibly irate with the constant tapping of her ear piece and shouting ‘Turn my music up’ into the mic a number of times. However, she ploughed through a handful of tracks from all four of her albums, notably ‘Sunshowers’, ‘Bucky Done Gun’ and ‘Bring The Noize’ before things really took a turn for the worst and the sound cut out completely. Booing ensued after MIA walked off stage only to return 10 minutes later to perform ‘Paper Planes’ and ‘Bad Girls’ before throwing the mic down and cutting a planned 90 minute set down to around a measly 45 minutes which did a wonderful job of sobering up the high-spirited crowd very quickly.
Technical issues aside, Lovebox has always been and still is a highlight of the summer months and brings great spirits and great music to the heart of London. Musically, the festival has improved year on year and will continue to attract major names across an eclectic mix of genres. Logistically, improvements still need to be made. On a day when temperatures reached over 30 degrees and people had been passing out on the Friday, 30 minute plus queuing for the water taps was hardly welcomed. This year though, it was just hugely disappointing to walk away thinking what could have been if only the sound hadn’t been an issue.
Review by Sam Keefe.
Legendary DJ Norman Jay celebrates 30 years of his influential sound system Good Times with a compilation on Strut. Selected with his impeccable taste and famous eclecticism, the compilation covers a range of soulful and uplifting music from disco and house to hip-hop, funk, and reggae. In this mini-mix, several of the more dance floor leaning tracks are showcased for a 30 minute party starter.
Good Times 30 is out now!