I know what you’re all thinking- "Lovebox- ultimate white girl festival." Full of girls (and lads) who want the aesthetic of a music festival for their Instagram page- whilst not having to cope with the trials and tribulations of camping, waking up to find your blowup mattress is slowly flowing down a stream of mud, shitting into plastic cartons full of everyone else’s whatnot and desperately trying to get some shuteye while some wanker 50 yards away is singing "Don’t Look Back In Anger" at 5am accompanied by nothing but a wheelie bin and his sweaty armpit.
Forget that though, it’s all about tweeting photos of your £11 fully-vegan, wheat-free yet extremely calorific Nutella doughnut you just bought, or wearing your flower crown, kimono and long maxi skirt because it’s "festival fashion" (I’ll save my rant on playsuits for another time). Okay, maybe I’m leaking into a Coachella rant, but it’s fair to say, Lovebox is not necessarily regarded as a festival for the hardiest of festival goers, and I’m sure some of these attendees would faint at some of the sights at Glastonbury or Reading. Whilst I can really appreciate someone who loves live music, those who go for the "Instagram opportunities," I really lack respect for. (PS: A brief message to the girl at Lovebox in HEELS: girl…don’t bother with T in the Park, those scots will eat you alive.)
But I digress. The truth is…I was surprised by Lovebox. Ultimately, I was using this festival as an opportunity to see one of my absolute favourite bands: LCD Soundsystem, alongside to experience George Clinton, Miike Snow and Jungle. And honestly, I’ve not once seen a crowd so united in the need to dance - we dance ourselves clean to the sheer power of the reformed LCD’s sensational set, the ribcage-shattering bass of Jungle and clean dancy beats of Miike Snow. Although the remainder of the festival was undeniably disappointing in terms of activities (though there were a few cool little stages scattered about), the acts certainly electrify the Main Stage.
Pioneer of funk George Clinton proves his everlasting relevance with The Mothership Reconnection- it features big brass, sassy ladies and gospel vocals, sometimes blended with full-on percussive rap interludes. It’s an absolute free-for-all of funk, dancing and even some acrobatics by the white fur clad “Nose” (God knows how he’s surviving in this heat). After Chet Faker’s raw electro-pop set and motown-inspired vocals, we watch Miike Snow, whose crisp piano riffs and vocal hooks excite the crowd, showcasing new tracks from the new album “iii” like the catchy “Genghis Khan” and “The Heart of Me”. However old fan favourite “Cult Logic” impresses the most; rhythmically rich and clean yet complex in its synth lead. Jungle, however, were the real surprise act in terms of capturing perfectly the warm summery evening and taming the energy of the crowd- it’s jubilant yet thoughtful, funky and psychedelic yet clean-cut. They only strutted onto the music scene a few years ago yet they’re already a firm favourite for the crowd and everyone is dancing.
LCD Soundsystem’s set is simultaneously momentous, moving, and simply extraordinary- James Murphy seems to be channelling such a wide range of icons, influences and pure emotions into one energy-filled performance. The reform does not feel like a victory lap, it just feels right because the tracks stay relevant. And even crushed against the barrier, in my happy place for sing-alongs, dance-alongs- and admittedly cry-athons, I simply can’t absorb it all- the energy of the crowd, the majesty of Murphy’s vocals erupting into falsetto and the fact that I’ve made it- I’ve completed the pilgrimage of seeing one of the best live acts I thought I’d missed, but had the sheer honour to see tonight, and still own the same hypnotism they did 5 years earlier. The most unlikely frontman, who claimed to be "losing his edge" over a decade ago still remains at the top of his game, backed by a 7-piece entity of first-class music-making. Few comebacks can be respected in such high regard- most reforms sacrifice quality, and are for glory and nostalgia, not to experience the band at its peak. But LCD remain startlingly articulate (and I reckon Murphy’s already peaked drinking-wise, yet the performance is somehow immaculate).
After a quick "Happy Birthday" interlude slipped into "New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” addressed to drummer Pat and an electric performance of Dance Yrself Clean, the announcement of only “one more song” feels like a punch to the stomach.
Finishing on “All My Friends”- it’s like we’ve completed a journey. That really happened. That set just happened. LCD Soundsystem fans made it "Home."
Albeit the slightly less friendly atmosphere than other festivals, the tacky rides and rather lacking activities apart from a sheltered disco guarded by a somewhat terrifying inflatable gorilla and his tiger counterpart, the acts were rightfully the standout part of this festival, particularly that of LCD Soundsystem and Jungle, without which it would have added up to an enjoyable, but not as satisfying day. Whilst the diversity of the lineup is applaudable, the grounds for Lovebox can be regarded as “nice”, but nothing beyond. The real attraction to this festival is the chance to see talented acts at a convenient location for Londoners, with the feel of a festival at its tidiest.
Photos by Ella Squire