Event Recap: Lovebox 2012 [Gallery]
Lovebox must be doing something right. It's been going for ten years and consistently sells out on at least one of its three days, and continues to book some of the finest contemporary dance acts and alternative bands around. Société Perrier wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Our Lovebox journey begins by catching Sheffield native Toddla T on the second stage, who immediately delighted with his distinctive jumpy ragga cuts, mashed up with everything from old school jungle to bassy two-step to a blast of the Oompa Loompa. Tom Bell was clearly enjoying the hell out of playing his set, and it rubbed off on the excitable crowd.
Stumbling across Gato Preto (pictured, above) on the Floripa stage (a tiny, excellent stage showcasing a range of global beats all weekend) proved a surprise highlight, and reminded you that you can still find underground talent at a festival as big as Lovebox. Blending kuduro and traditional Portuguese and African styles with winding, hypnotic bass styles, heavy beats and raps taken from those countries’ contemporary scenes, the duo had the Floripa tent jumping and writhing like nobody’s business. Quite an achievement for half past five in the daytime.
Digging the small stage theme, it was over to the Art Against Knives stage, which is actually a converted van, now approximately 30 percent vehicle and 70 percent soundsystem. Gilles Peterson killed it with a set of deep electronic soul and house – Julio Bashmore’s "Battle For Middle You" goes down a treat – that merges into spacey disco.
Meanwhile The 2 Bears were electro-hopping the ass off the Stockade Stage crowd with their pop-colored bashment bounce, which proved a fitting soundtrack for a (requested) stage invasion.
Over to the main stage to finish off Friday, and Crystal Castles were doing their glitch-punk thing. As always, it was great to hear, but it didn't quite carry as well on a huge festival stage as it does in a tiny, sweaty, low-ceilinged club. But “Crimewave” was still ace, and their performance was boosted surprisingly well by a live drummer.
“This is the first time we’ve headlined a festival,” cried Friday’s headliners Hot Chip. This seemed surprising, as – perhaps unlike Crystal Castles – their uptempo electro-pop musings and ballads work equally well in both an intimate club atmosphere and on a main festival stage. Unsurprisingly, an amped up “Over and Over” drew the biggest cheers, but a wide-ranging set confirmed the band’s many talents and justified the praise they’ve always been given.
Saturday got off to a fine start courtesy of David Rodigan rinsing out huge reggae tunes and other Jamaican-infused treats in the Hospitality Tent. The man’s a legend.
Little Dragon then provided some calmer but very appealing electro-pop on the main stage. Dipping in and out of manic percussive breakdowns that built into a carnival stomp and swirling prog-rock jams amongst their back catalogue, the band showed why they outshine many of their peers.
During this time, the Crosstown Rebels crew were having their own day-long party over on the Stockade Stage, and Art Department’s brilliance was shining through, via some lovely trippy disco and esoteric club vibes. It was a deep set for a festival, but the duo executed it perfectly, and then slot back into an accessible tech-house groove flawlessly.
Back in 2002, Groove Armada founded Lovebox on Clapham Common, so it seemed only right that they returned to play live for the tenth anniversary of the festival (now in its new home, Victoria Park in East London). The duo sounded as tight as ever, and brought in a ridiculously special guest in the form of Candi Staton, to perform “You Got The Love” (which Société Perrier exclusively revealed last week, by the way). Further crowds flock to the front of the stage for the (excellent) performance, and were rewarded by Groove Armada’s own classics, including “At The River”, a rocked-up version of “I See You Baby” and the ever-enjoyable “Superstylin’,” allowed the audience to get their bounce on.
Electro-house stalwarts Booka Shade were our closing act of choice, and it quickly proved a wise decision. Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier have played a few festivals in their time, and they worked the crowd perfectly, running through big, danceable electro, solid tech-house, and punchy 4/4 tracks. As ever, the combination of Merziger on synths and programming and Kammermeier providing drums and rhythm worked perfectly, and the heaving crowd appeared to love every minute of it, particularly favorites like “Night Falls” and “Body Language,” which is given a clubbier feel tonight. A suitable end to two days solid of Loveboxing, and although gutted that we couldn't attend the Sunday, we retired safe in the knowledge that three days of fun had been crammed into two days of stellar musical talent.
Images by Sareta Puri