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Festival review - Lovebox 2015

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I arrived at midday in to the sun-drenched dustbowl of Victoria Park, the thousands of feet having turned Lovebox into a sand pit. 

The main stage warm-up was provided reggae singer Frederico Marin a.k.a Kiko Bun. This charismatic singer, songwriter and producer was joined by his wonderfully energetic band and managed to get people on their feet dancing during the hottest hour of the day. Kiko is signed to Black Butter Publishing and is fresh from supporting The Wailers on their UK tour. I would have liked to see them with a bigger crowd but they handled the graveyard shift of an early festival slot with pure reggae joy. 

Heading over to buy a Corona, I stumbled upon possibly the best DJs of the festival – Horse Meat Disco, smashing their two-hour daytime slot at the beautifully designed Corona Sunsets stage. They delivered hit after hit of great disco, delightfully lacking violent remixes/mashups that totally murder the original. 

After witnessing proof that disco is most certainly not dead, it was time for something of a very different tempo. German composer Nils Frahm had the Big Top tent hypnotized with his smooth, luxurious electronic sounds. Overcoming technical difficulties that hindered the beginning of his set, he was soon on a roll. Frahm is known for his unconventional approach to the piano – he mixes multiple pianos with a drum machine and synthesizer. His energy and concentration were quite incredible to behold, and it’s refreshing to see an artist with classical qualities on the festival circuit. 

Nils Frahm

I deviated from the main flow of the crowd that was headed to see Danny Brown (who didn’t seem to enjoy his time at LOVEBOX, see Twitter!), to check out Voicebox – a smaller tent housing a diverse range of music and poetry. 

Dizraeli, a spoken word artist and musician from Bristol, was on top form. I’ve seen him a couple of times and his ability to get a crown relaxed, laughing and attentive is impressive. Particularly when he’s competing with Danny Brown, Soul Clap and Jessie Ware. A few minutes after he began, Voicebox was packed. Incredible beat boxing artist Reeps One and musician of many talents Bellatrix joined Dizraeli for some wicked stints of improv, leaving him to do some of his own stuff solo also. This delightful set was proof that size isn’t everything – sometimes the smaller tents are where the magic happens. 

My highlight of the whole festival was a total accident. 

Speed-walking past the Bandstand stages, I witnessed a big collective of musicians, Asheber & The Afrikan Revolution, had just begun their set. The Afrikan Revolution describe themselves as a ‘super group’ of musicians led by Niles ‘Asheber’ Hailstones. Part of the ‘Afrikan Renaissance Movement’, their music is rooted in a long history ‘steeped in the tradition and the works of its members and the journey of Afrikan music in the Diaspora’. The band brings together Afrikan, reggae, jazz, soul, blues and spoken word, and live they did so with incredible power and grace.

Suffice to stay I quickly forgot about who I was heading to see and stayed put. I literally could not wipe the smile off my face watching a stage full of incredibly talented black musicians perform a wonderfully diverse set that took the audience back to ‘where Blues really began’, before whipping us all up into a giant conga line led by Asheber himself. These guys managed to turn what began as a small, nonplussed crowd into a very happy party boogying all over the bandstand. This was undoubtedly my ‘best bit’ of LOVEBOX. 

Hot Chip

Saturday finished on a high for me with Hot Chip who remain just as awesome as ever. The main stage was packed out for their one-hour set which was a perfect combination of old and new material. Whilst recent releases like ‘Need You Now’ were an absolute hit with the crowd, there’s nothing quite like ‘Over and Over’ for getting everyone bouncing. I think ‘like a monkey with a miniature cymbal’ should win the ‘Most Satisfying Lyric To Sing Outloud At A Festival’ award. A super cute addition to their set was the introduction of several bopping toddlers to the stage (the spawn, I assume, of respective Hot Chip members). Talk about cool parents, jeeze. The musicians seemed to be having a great time and the people loved it. Oh, and if it couldn’t get any better, they finished with a sublime cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

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