As the festivals jostle for position, looking to attract the wallflowers yet to commit themselves to a weekend in the British summer outdoors, Groove Armada’s Lovebox Weekender finds itself in an increasingly enviable position.
Every year this festival has taken a giant stride toward being an essential fixture in the calendar, without losing any of the charm and good-natured atmosphere that has got it this far.
The Weekender will once again grace Hackney’s Victoria Park, with the site opening at a civilized hour of 10am on both days. Before we even get to the line-up it’s worth considering the side features that could tempt even the most hardened festival goer. These include yoga, shiatsu, tai chi, food sourced from Borough Market, a circus, a clay tent, a kiddie’s big top and various child friendly activities. Children under 12 are welcome – and free.
So far so good. But whos playing? Well in something of a coup the Groove Armada boys have pulled off an appearance by Sly and The Family Stone. Saturday’s main stage headliners have emerged blinking into the sunlight, their freshly remastered back catalogue still glinting on the shelves, and this will be their only festival performance of the year.
Supporting them are Blondie and Soul II Soul, both acts with their golden hit making days behind them but still at the peak of their powers when it comes to warming the hearts of a festival crowd. Other festival veterans exhorting the sun to appear will be the Super Furry Animals and the Bees, both of whom guarantee helpings of happiness in their music – and in the Furries case, stage antics aplenty.
The rhythmic leanings of the festival’s organisers mean their choice of acts leads to some decent foot-on-floor action. One of the best places to experience this will be Saturday’s Horse Meat disco, a re-creation of New York’s 1970s disco nights of the same name. Joey Negro is better placed than most to headline this tent thirty years on, and he will no doubt join the dots in suitably uplifting fashion. On the Sunday the tent will be transformed into El Barrio, with Brazilian outfit Bonde do Role supporting the man who discovered them, Ninjatune’s Diplo.
Expect rhythms aplenty at every turn. Saturday’s Time Out stage bill, for instance, takes in Ska Cubano, Malcolm Middleton and Latin Dub Soundsystem. Compare that with Sundays line-up – Toots and the Maytals, Tunng and the wonderful Trojan Soundsystem.
Sunday’s main stage is a formidable array of talent. As you might expect Groove Armada will close their own festival, but before that there will be a chance to enjoy sultry cover versions from Nouvelle Vague before some upfront guitar-dance interface work from Hot Chip and The Rapture, before the B52s take centre stage.
More up and coming bands worth seeing include Pull Tiger Tail and Mr Hudson and the Library, while DJs who haven’t yet had a look-in include Layo & Bushwacka, Digitalism and Will Saul (all on Sunday), prefaced by Gilles Peterson, Funk D’Void and the Issst DJs Bobby & Kevin, all on Saturday.
So for a friendly yet up for it festival with rhythm, look no further – Lovebox is back, and promises a whole host of peaks for the weekend.