A week after the event and just about a recovering from the weekend of festival raving at Lovebox, we recap on the highlights starting with Friday night. Opening Lovebox’s 3 day weekend in a soggy Victoria Park – it’s not a real festival without a night of rain to muddy up the grounds good and proper – was Friday’s ode to the people who make the party happen; the DJ.
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Beside the rest of the weekend line-up, the billing appeared comparatively scarce due to the lack of mainstage performers, and I honestly anticipated Friday to be the least hyped of the three days. However, very quickly it was clear this would not be the case.
Arriving at the festival a little before my comrades, my first meeting was with the Rinse FM stage where Redlight had the crowd skanking to old school garage. Moving on to the Outdoor stage, I arrived just in time to catch Shola Ama on Toddla T’s set, taking audiences back to her 1997 hit ‘You Might Need Somebody’. The crowd chorused her song back to her, before Toddla T took up the tempo shared the duo’s latest collaboration of many.
Meeting with Candice and Y&Y friends Miss Tosin and Speeakz of Pinboard Blog, we wandered around familiarising ourselves with the site’s very cool aesthetic, trying and failing to find the Art Against Knives stage and trudging through mud. We also were witness to the most spectacular muddy/drunken fall I’ve ever seen – I’m talking about a face down, drink spilling, mud-angel making fall which literally made Candice cry with laughter.
After giggles, mud and ice cream we headed to the Stockage stage for a much anticipated set from Disclosure. Two slightly geeky teenage brothers from South London, Howard and Guy Lawrence are fairly new to the scene, having emerged only a year ago, but their brand of new-aged old skool garage (there’s an oxymoron in there somewhere, isn’t there?) has seen their fanbase grow solidly and quickly. The duo tore through their one hour set with a delightful mix of their hybrid of soulful, 2-step and futuristic production that took many an old skool raver out of the muddy field in Hackney and into a DJ EZ dance.
In a second attempt we were successful at finding the Art Against Knives stage. Less of a stage, and more of a truck with a DJ booth, Arts Against Knives was a crowd stealer as it’s audience swelled much beyond it’s constrains as Emily Rawson (of Rock The Belles) and CJ Beatz spun hip-hop cuts.
Missing much of their set, I drifted towards the Rinse FM tent to catch the culmination of Magnetic Man onstage. Katy B‘s pretty vocal permeated the space with strength and control over their most noted collaboration, ‘Perfect Stranger’.
While I missed it, Derek caught an exceptional set from Skream. I was back in the tent for the Rinse FM headliners, grime outfit Boy Better Know took the stage. With Derek onstage to snap the moment and Tara at our side, we threw up gunfingers and skanked out as Jammer, Skepta, Griminal, Shorty, Frisco and JME (dressed in a onesie reminiscent of a giant babygro) took myself and Candice back to our days when we were 14-year-old partners-in-crime at under-18 grime raves.
As the night drew to a close we almost didn’t notice that we didn’t even drift to our attention towards the mainstage. While we’re told Hot Chip put on a winning closing performance, it goes without question that Friday belonged to the DJ and the producer. Unsurprising, with legendary DJ outfit Groove Armada at the helm of Lovebox. They, if anyone, understand the contribution that real DJs, especially those who toe the line of beat-maker and beat-mixer, are just as important as the performers.