Lovebox Weekender - Victoria Park, London (19-20/08/2008)

Holly Arnold | Friday, 25 July 2008

Lovebox Weekender - Victoria Park, London (19-20/08/2008)

Situated in the heart of East London, The Lovebox Weekender is not your average festival. Amidst a flurry of eclectic musical treats, so much more is on offer from the 2-day event.

Skateboard ramps, drag queen discos and a fresh fruit fight are just some of the deviances from the music available. Hungry? Far from the usual chips and burgers menu of most festivals, an array of food from the finest corners of the world fill the air, with aromas more at home in the likes of borough market than in a field full of music fans.

And the music. From looking at the line-up you'd be forgiven for thinking its not the fullest selection, but it's an easy misjudgement to make.
Saturday started off on a bad note, with baying crowds held back from entering for over an hour whilst opening act Alphabeat performed to a minimal crowd. This, however, was just a minor blip on an otherwise seamless day.

Having no obvious must-see bands until Young Knives at around 4, the early afternoon was left open to exploring - and there was more than enough to see. Spread over 8 varying stages was a selection of music so diverse it felt like little mini festivals were on offer around every corner.
From jazz to tribal to jungle to ska, every musical appetite was satisfied through this afternoon and provided a glorious background for the whole weekend. Young Knives performed their usual cheeky, anthem filled set to a relaxed, mostly seated crowd and eventually got the enthusiasm they gave back when the final numbers prompted an ovation from the fans.

Expectations were high for The Human League - expecting cheese-tastic '80s classics, the opening political heavy numbers were enough to send the crowd in search of more entertaining avenues. This led to Lethal Bizzle, who, while obviously not playing to his exact target audience, still whipped up the intoxicated middle class into a sometimes embarrassing display of hip-hop prowess.

Excitement mounted as the usual headliners, and hosts, Groove Armada took to the stage in a supporting slot. Infusing classic DJ mixes with their genre-crossing hit singles, the duo brought life to the stage with a dramatic and thoroughly enjoyable performance.

After such a memorable performance Manu Chou fell a little short, raising questions over scheduling. He managed to plough through and offered an interesting and colourful set enough to send the audience home (at an unusually early time of 10pm) happy and satisfied.

Due to line-up preferences, Sunday's musical selection gave the day a feeling of fullness when compared to the oft-rambling hours spent the day before. First up to welcome the crowds were The Dandy Warhols who, suffering due to their early slot, banged out their tunes with their usual flair and dedication.

Electro girl-band The RGBs jumped on the musical bandwagon with an energetic if slightly predictable set. This, thankfully, could not be said of DiscĂ­pulos de Otilia. Their boisterous performance spilled into the audience as the bare-chested lead singers danced amongst the crowds, making the field feel more like a intimate pub gig.

White Lies then brought an epic quality to a smaller stage through an intense lighting display and deep melodic tunes reminiscent of any Editors or Interpol classics. Roni Size Reprazents provided a surprise turn, pulling in large audiences for their early 4pm slot. They kept them moving and dancing to classic drum and bass and jungle music from the '90s, adding a healthy slice of nostalgia to the day.

Weirdly placed inside a tiny tent, two of the most up-and-coming bands on the line-up pulled in crowds that crushed to fit into the small venue. The Metros and Operator Please made the most of the situation, rocking out the expectant crowds with healthy servings of punk attitude (The Metros) and melodic charm (Operator Please) to compensate for the cramped surroundings.

Another case of strange line-up ordering left a nervous looking Jack Penate taking to the main stage after the void left by Roni Size. After a few songs Jack more than got into the swing of things, prancing around the stage and letting his sterling vocals and catchy songs fill the massive space.

And now for Goldfrapp. After a mellow start Alison Goldfrapp filled the field with excitement as she churned out hit after hit. Surreal entertainment was provided courtesy of half-naked pole dancers and weird animals dancing around the stage. Perfect for a sunny afternoon, her soulful voice echoed throughout the arena, soothing all those in attendance.

The Flaming Lips carried on the on-stage entertainment with a performance that at times verged on style over substance, with only hardcore fans staying around for the entire show. The Go Team, on the other hand, offered a slice of pure entertainment. They screamed at the audience to dance and with the blistering performance they put in, the crowds were more than happy to obey.

Lovebox may look inferior on paper, but once you enter those gates you're transferred to a world filled with individuality and diversity - and the music isn't half bad either.

Rating: 4/5