Lovebox Weekender - Victoria Park, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Lovebox Weekender - Victoria Park, London

by Leonora Walters Rating: Release Date:

Lovebox was ever more professional in its eighth year, with near military precision and speed at the gates, and well stocked and plentiful bars - features at times lacking as recently as four years ago. But despite getting bigger, the same Lovebox atmosphere remained: feel good and relaxed despite being a stone's throw from the bustling centre of London.

Toilets (if you're supposed to cover this in a music review) left a lot to be desired even on the first day, though I am happy to report that this didn't involve finding any deceased members of the Conservative Party in the cubicles. New features included different positions and layouts for some stages. The Stockade was no longer an enclosed area under a few trees but a full stage with large open standing area - a wise choice in view of the mass crush that accompanied some of the dubstep acts which played on it, though the trees were sorely missed when the rain kicked in on Saturday and Sunday.

The Relentless Stage, now known as Energy Sessions, had grown from being a small podium at the side of the main stage mostly for interesting but up and coming electro bands, to a huge open area ready to accommodate the crowds that would flock in to see the likes of Groove Armada on Saturday. But more unusual, weird and wonderful performers had certainly not lost their space thanks to the Circus Kinetica stage. Friday's performances included the distinctly not weird but highly talented Lazy Habits, a jazz and funk band fronted by two rappers. Same idea as Plan B - a fusion of hip hop with smoother sounds - but in no way a copy as Lazy Habits create very much their own sound, jazzier and more upbeat than Plan B.

Two rappers provided the vocals, one in a suit with softer tones and a more casually dressed harder sounding one. As well as instrumentalists, a DJ added to the sound but blended perfectly, not just in terms of his sound, but his dark glasses and suited soul man get-up. His outfit reflected the band's ethos: old school appearance blended with some contemporary sounds. Lazy Habits have quite a few London dates coming up in August, or if you're lucky enough to be going to Soundwave Festival in Croatia at the end of this month you can hear them there.

A draw of a day for many festival goers was the Stockade given over to sound of the minute, dubstep, hosted by London radio station Rinse FM. One of the highlights was Ms Dynamite, back with a bang after a five year break. Even if you don't totally love her music, she makes you love her. Ms Dynamite doesn't sing songs on stage, she performs: speaking with and engaging the crowd, and getting them to sing along to 'What You Talking About?' Her voice has a wide range, whether rapping at a furious speed or going big, low and deep - this girl has got lungs. Her set didn't disappoint: she mixed some of her older school stuff with some dubstep, including a harder version of her poppy recent duo with Katy B, 'Lights Out'.

He maybe one third of Magnetic Man but on this occasion Skream was 100 per cent the headline DJ. Skream played a slightly lighter sound than he offers in some of his own productions, a lively set which got the crowd going but finished slightly oddly with Rage Against the Machine - whipping the crowd up even more. I was disappointed not to hear more of what this talented producer can do himself, and surely there's some irony in a proponent of electronic music, surrounded by his mixing equipment, cables, Apple Macs etc, playing Rage Against the Machine?

Skream returned to the stage towards the end of closing act, DJ Plastician, and appeared to tell him to crowd surf, which Plastican did. Not a very rock 'n' roll dive though. Rather, looking terrified Plastician gingerly hoisted himself onto to the very accommodating crowd for a few moments before returning to wind up his set. Maybe Skream should have led by example.

More relaxed was the Get Together stage, which created a party atmosphere for the people in the various seats around it, essentially a lively bar minus the roof. The music fittingly reflected this: easy on the ear, get the party started type stuff. DJ Grum played fairly a fairly upbeat house set, but no one better exemplified this atmosphere than DJ/producer Aeroplane with his blend of 21st century disco - perfect music to party to, but not without skilful mixing and progressive melodies.

The NYC Downlow was the only covered stage at Lovebox, a life-size replica of a ruined New York tenement, evidently washed down after its last appearance at Glasto. This was largely filled with electronic music acts which on Saturday included DJ/producer Photek, who delivered a pumping house set peppered with some remixed old school dubstep.

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