LoveBox - 18-19th July 09 Live Review

Review of LoveBox Weekender


Over the last seven years Lovebox has been establishing itself as a cornerstone of the summer social calendar in East London. An opportunity to experience the vibe of other medium sized festivals, like Creamfields and Global Gathering, without the hassle of travelling to an abandoned airfield in the middle of nowhere and camping in the mud.

Set in Victoria park , bordering Hackney, Bow and Bethnal green in the east end of London, it's slap bang in the hip end of town. Started by Groove Armada back in 2002, it's been growing in reputation; trebled in size and attracted some big names in pop, dance and rock.

As seems to be the case these days, LoveBox 2009 had a distinctly eighties feel with the likes of the New York dolls, Gary Numan and Duran Duran jumping on the 80's revival bandwagon and gracing the line up over the two days. Also on the bill were the awesome, but slightly ginger, Florence and the Machine and the successful US funk, rock and hip hop outfit N.E.R.D.

As you would expect form any self respecting festival the place is littered with decent food stalls and places to buy warm flat beer, and the obligatory retro clothes and sunglasses shops. You can even sip a Sloe Gin in the plush Gordans bar after a game of bowling at the 5 star lanes. But, in-between necking booze and stuffing your face you might happen upon a stage or two.

Split into five main areas, you can dance all day to the likes of Electro and hip hop Djing legend Diplo in the understated but funky Rizla area. A great place to spend the sunny bits dancing under palm trees, like a superclub terrace in Ibiza. X Press 2 headlined the Saturday shenanigans and as you would expect from producers of the amazing Muzikizm they got the crowd going big time. But be warned, you have no chance of getting in after eight o'clock.

There are a couple of other purely dance music venues, called the Double Disco and the Relentless stage. Double disco played host to the likes of Horsemeat Disco and Andy Butler from Hercules and The Love Affair, whilst the Relentless stage featured the brilliant Simian Mobile Disco. A perfect opportunity for Simian to prepare themselves for all the touring that will come after their new album, Temporary Pleasure is released in August. I can't wait for it.

The major action happens on the main stage. I was most looking forward to Florence and the Machine and they failed to disappoint. The Kate Bush -alike, Florence Welch has an amazing voice and I love their new album. They were unfortunate with the weather but no one seemed to care. Dog days are over and Rabbit Heart went down a treat and it was a great start to the Saturday headlining trio.

N.E.R.D are a different kettle of fish altogether. Their Hip Hop- Rock infused tunes went down a storm at their surprise gig at Glastonbury, so I was really looking forward to seeing them. And at Lovebox you can actually get close enough to the stage to see the band. The guys are great live with the full band and they even suffered a mini stage invasion as they invited twenty or so girls up on stage for a boogie. The health and safety lot had a fit but the crowd loved it. Keep up the good work boys.

Finally, it was what all the Ray-Ban sporting 80's rock chicks had been waiting for all day, Duran Duran. These legends need no introduction and they seemed to have come back into the limelight like so many other eighties' bands have recently. The eighties are definitely back in fashion and Duran Duran's electro sounds fit in perfectly with a lot of the acts out at the moment.

A top hat wearing Simon Le Bon sounded excellent and they played all their greatest hits like Rio and Notorious to a great laser show. They still sound fresh after nearly thirty years, which is saying something for synthesized eighties music.

To top it off, super producer Mark Ronson joined them for a couple of tunes. Like everyone at the moment, Ronson is producing their new album and it was a fitting end to the day by adding another popular act.

All in all Lovebox is a great way to spend a summer weekend. Its central location and useful public transport access make it a no-brainer for any young party animals living in London. Tickets are a reasonable price and you're guaranteed a great, if slightly quirky line up. It has a couple of downsides, such as it finishes early and I found all the sound systems a little quiet, but all in all you're hard pressed to find many issues with the place, atmosphere or music.

So next year when you're thinking which festival you're going to spend your hard earned pennies on, give Lovebox a thought. Perfect if you want a cracking line up without the hassle of camping.

Alex Bunt

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