Does bigger mean better? In the case of Groove Armada’s increasingly successful Lovebox Weekender, it certainly looks that way – and 2009 sees them stepping up the festival with increased capacity and bigger stages.
The outlook remains refreshingly eclectic. Year on year Lovebox has walked a delicate tightrope with seemingly carefree steps, catering for their punters on all fronts – music, entertainment, city, country, atmosphere, food and drink. Their main restriction to date has been a rigid curfew – though of late those problems look to have been conquered.
Whilst food may not sound that important, it can break a festival if it’s really ropey – and it’s a part of the Lovebox experience. To be able to indulge in something different from such a massive choice of Borough Market food, while sipping a margarita or mojito, is just one of the festival’s plus points.
This year the festival is casting a lingering look over its shoulder in the direction of the 1980s. Headlining the Saturday on the main stage are Duran Duran, who are expected to be joined by Mark Ronson as their set unfolds – presumably to showcase some of the new material on which they’ve been collaborating.
A healthy dose of post punk finds Gang Of Four in second from top slot on the new second stage on the Saturday, while a day later Gary Numan will be making a comparatively rare festival appearance, ahead of the rerelease of The Pleasure Principle.
Said second stage is a radical development for Victoria Park to be making, a large tree house at its heart. Staying there for the whole of Saturday will bring you into contact with new (Frankmusik, Dan Black, Official Secrets Act and the hotly tipped MPHO) and the increasingly established (Friendly Fires are headlining).
Sunday’s line-up is even more wide ranging, from Lightspeed Champion, hopefully making up for an unexpected cancellation last year, through to Datarock, Filthy Dukes, Noah And The Whale and Mexican headliners Rodrigo y Gabriela.
On the main stage Mr Hudson appears for his third consecutive Lovebox, part of a first day bill that includes Florence And The Machine, V V Brown and N*E*R*D*.
On Sunday it’s business as usual, Groove Armada fronting their own festival, with Doves, Numan, Ladyhawke and Rokia Traoré in immediate support. Keep an eye out for the openers though – Wave Machines on the Sunday and Orange unsigned winner Tommy Reilly on the Saturday.
One of the principal appeals of Lovebox, as well as its eclectic band selection, is its DJs. On the Saturday it would be all too easy to spend the day in the company of SecretSundaze, with James Priestley, Giles Smith and DJ Sneak among the turntablists in a new installation that looks rather special. Also on day one are Horse Meat Disco, not to mention the Rizla ‘Invisible Players’ Van, from which the likes of X-Press 2 and the Idjut Boys will play on Saturday; Diplo, Jazzie B and Gruff Rhys showing up on Sunday.
The Relentless stage on Sunday will play host to some special electronic talent, from The Emperor Machine and Joakim to Simian Mobile Disco, the latter closing off with what should be a fierce live set, peppered with new album material.
So it’s business as usual for London’s weekend out in the park, a chance to indulge in new acts and old whilst casting aside the odd frisson of a guilty pleasure. Those who opt to try something new – on musical and catering fronts – are likely to be handsomely rewarded.