When the Lovebox festival started just over a decade ago, the idea of a festival in the middle of London seemed faintly absurd.
Yet with a perfect site in Hackney’s Victoria Park to house the myriad of musical styles on offer, not to mention superior fringe entertainment, food and drink, Groove Armada‘s Tom Findlay and Andy Cato are clearly on to a good thing.
Camping, of course, is strictly off limits – so if you live in London you get to do the whole festival experience without a squelching tarpaulin. It does mean the two days are slightly detached from each other, but also means the energy is fully restored by the time Sunday lunchtime comes around. Which is a good thing, as you’ll want to spend as much time on the site as possible, given the quality and variety of the acts.
Beginning with some burgeoning acts, the boys have built a very strong undercard indeed. Saturday welcomes Ladyhawke, Kraak en Smaak, Lykke Li and the Midnight Juggernauts, for starters. The latter are renowned for their powerful live performances, and will crash land on the Strange Love stage. Meanwhile Sunday’s bigger name line-up still manages to introduce Operator Please, Howling Bells and Esser.
Lovebox has always offered a winning blend of DJs and bands, and this year is no exception. If you want to turn up just to dance, then it’s easy – head for the Stockade and enjoy a Secretsundaze spectacular on the first day, thanks to regulars Giles Smith and James Priestley, with heavyweight support from Ame. Taking the reins on Sunday are Mulletover, with sets from Craig Richards and Damian Lazarus the highlights.
Don’t just stay at the Stockade if you’re shaking a leg or two, mind – that would lead to you missing the marvellous Horse Meat Disco, hosting a mini-riot in a purpose built mini tenement block. On the Sunday they welcome disco godfather Daniele Baldelli, who could lay claim to being one of the very first DJs, starting out well before the invention of either headphones or mixers.
Biggest name of all on the wheels of steel is Frankie Knuckles, who will play on the Strangelove Stage on the Saturday. There’s not much more to say to that, for if you know house you’ll know Knuckles!
That’s all very well, but who are the headliners? On Saturday, Manu Chao will be closing the main stage bill, with immediate support in a rare appearance by The Human League and the customary set from Groove Armada, whose Soundboy Rock album went down a treat last year.
On the Gaymers Great Escape stage a cosmopolitan line-up brings Mr Hudson And The Library back to the live circuit, with Lethal Bizzle, Johnny Foreigner and the Young Knives in solid support.
Day two brings The Flaming Lips to the main stage – and if ever a band were designed to headline a fantasy festival it’s them. Expect much in the way of capery and good vibes from Wayne Coyne and his tribe. They will no doubt be ably supported by Goldfrapp, who should provide a blissful comedown after the raw energy of Roni Size and the hyperactive pop of Jack Penate. Completing a strong main stage bill are French smoothie Sébastien Tellier and the barbed lyricism of Lightspeed Champion, not to mention a chance to see Seun Kuti performing with his father Feli’s backing band, Egypt 70.
Some do’s for Lovebox then – eat lots of scrumptious Borough Market food, sink a Marguerita or two, dance in the sunshine until your legs ache, then head for the blissful meditation and relaxation areas to take the pains away. Or, if you’re feeling swish, join the Late Night Tales crew in the VIP area and sample DJ sets from Zero 7, Kid Loco and The Go! Team. Take your kids, too, if you want or have any! Lovebox is a safe haven for them also.