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Festival Review: Lovebox 2019

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After one long bus ride down to West London’s Gunnersbury Park basking in the summer sunshine, the excitement was high for my first ever music festival.

Image Credit: Alesha Hickmans

Our first act of the day is the hectic British rapper Slowthai. Channelling his inner screamo, Slowthai delivered an ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ performance, stripping down to his underwear.

Next up on the mainstage came a complete shift in the form of British hip-hop artist Loyle Carner. The man just exudes wholesomeness, reflected in the cute bedroom aesthetic of his stage design, the relaxed groove of his music, and that gorgeous smile. Carner's only flaw is that his performance clashes with multi-instrumentalist FKJ on the second stage, and so I had to leave mid-set. Not that this was much of an issue since FKJ is also a stupendous live performer. 

Immediately after FKJ filled my soul with glee, came Atlanta’s 2 Chainz. One forgets just how many hits 2 Chainz has; the rapper managed to perform an entire hour set of nothing but pure bangers, going from his latest album Rap or Go To The League back to the old days where he went by the stage name Tity Boi. His set was so good that I had almost forgotten all about Kaytranada on the second stage - yet another cruel clash from the Lovebox organisers.

Image Credit: Jess Govinden

Just as Kaytranada’s set ended, J Hus's began. His energy is matched by the frantic crowd, going with him bar for bar, as he went bar for bar with his friend, Dave who came out to the loudest roar of the night.

Throwing it back to boom-bap, Cypress Hill performed the entirety of their 1993 classic album Black Sunday on the Noisey stage.

Closing off the day was R&B extraordinaire Solange. Never have I witnessed such detail in a live performance. The choreography on display was intricate, with Solange and her crew moving in unison at all times and every detail in perfect synchronisation. Performing songs from both her albums, interspersed with artsy transition pieces, Solange preached self-confidence, self-will and black excellence.

Day two began with R&B starlet Amber Mark, who, alongside Brooklynite musical group Phony Ppl, were the only redeeming acts of the first half of day two. Mark performed in front of a smaller crowd, but that didn’t hurt her performance.

Cupcakke was a no-show, which was only relayed on to us around half an hour into her slot, so anyone who stayed optimistically waiting at the Noisey stage for her to come out was left disappointed, especially since uber-talented R&B duo VanJess were playing the main stage at the same time. Without much of an introduction, out came producer duo Cozy Boys to play a mismatch of A$AP Mob songs and A$AP affiliate music. The DJ sets continued with Take A Daytrip, the New York producer duo behind such hits as 'Sheck Wes’, ‘Mo Bamba’, and Lil Nas X’s ‘Rodeo’ and ‘Panini’. 

The day starts to pick up with the introduction of the most delightful act to grace the Lovebox stage, Lizzo, who showered her audience with love and fun. Following Lizzo comes the so-called “best boy band since One Direction”, hip-hop collective Brockhampton. Interestingly, the band had removed of all of ex-member Ameer Vann’s verses, choosing instead to focus on the positivity of their image, rather than the controversy of Ameer, who was kicked out due to allegations of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse.

Image Credit: Yannick Selinger

Brockhampton's high energy was matched by South London’s hallmark rapper, Giggs. He got off to a slow start, with the audience not really connecting with his opening numbers, because they weren’t his huge hits. However, as soon as these came, the crowd went bonkers: mosh pits, flailing limbs, belted out hooks, all coupled with ostentatious pyrotechnics.

A brief pause from the main stage on to the Noisey stage where New York rapper Action Bronson performed a set full of classic boom-bap with some Bronco flavour. Having been brought out by Chabuddy G of all people, Bronson went on a tear, adding some WWE flair with Triple H’s patented water spits and keeping alive a leitmotif of horses, in line with his 2018 album White Bronco.

Finishing off two captivating days of Lovebox is Chicago hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper, who came to perform for one reason: to take us to church. And boy, did he do exactly that. Supported by a mini choir, a live band, Donnie Trumpet on…the trumpet, as well as confetti and ribbon cannons, Chance wrapped up Lovebox 2019 in as heartfelt a manner as possible, leaving the crowd with ‘Blessings’.

With a balanced line-up, and both days ending on uplifting notes, outside of a slow half of day two and the one no-show, Lovebox was a perfect music festival in the gleaming London sun.

Lead image credit: Shagrach Doghor

All images taken by competition winners of Take More Photos x Lovebox competition to find creative talent




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