It was a day to savour as the crowds reconvened at London’s Victoria Park for the second day of Lovebox festival, on a Saturday filled with big name acts. At the peak of the summer heat, big performances from the likes of Nas, Banks and Dimitri from Paris ensured that Lovebox’s reputation should remain positive for another year, even amidst a series of technical problems which headliner MIA will quite rightly feel aggrieved about.
Lovebox’s roots lie in dance music, but this year’s expansion saw the Main Stage held by rappers MIA and Nas, the latter playing out his ground-breaking debut album Illmatic in full to celebrate its 20th year. As one of the defining albums in East Coast hip hop, the performance of Illmatic drew an enormous crowd, and the response was unanimous; Nas smashed it. As he played out the likes of ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ and ‘The World Is Yours’, Lovebox was his.
Unfortunately, MIA’s set was less celebrated, as she complained of monitoring problems early on before being forced off stage early by a power cut. Criticisms of the sound were not limited to her performance, with West Stage headliner Woodkid suggesting similar issues had affected him, despite what proved to be a successful set.
Mount Kimbie could have similar qualms, given that their set was somewhat hampered by an over potent bass setup which detracted from their overall sound. The duo’s talent has always been in their delicacy of composition, and it is no easy task to reproduce such intricacy live, but the early parts of their set promised a lot as they kicked off with tracks off of their first album Crooks & Lovers. It was unfortunate that later tracks, such as the phenomenal ‘Made To Stray’ were not as finely balanced as they could have been.
When it comes to summer vibes, Germany’s Tensnake feeds off them as he demonstrated with his energetic intertwining of funky basslines and soulful vocals during his four to five-thirty set on the Red Bull Music Academy stage. Naturally, his 2010 hit ‘Coma Cat’ got a big reception, on a day which it had been tailor-made for, and his house infused nu-disco proved to be a big success.
In the same vein, Dimitri from Paris provided one of the best sets of the day with his similar brand of funk and disco, getting the same stage buzzing as the day entered its peak time. The classy French-Greek producer has a real ear for foot-moving bass melodies, and though he danced between nu-disco and tech-house throughout his hour and the half, his track selections never lost the striking melodies and harmonies that have defined his sound since the 90s.
The Big Top Sound Stage which had hosted Mount Kimbie and the wonderful Banks saw Bonobo’s classy live act draw the show to a close, and Simon Green’s ability to build on the mastery of Black Sands and The North Borders when playing live is by now beyond doubt.
This year’s Lovebox had a whole lot to offer, and it largely delivered, with the various acts aided by generous weather conditions and an undisputedly welcoming crowd. Of course, organizers and attendees alike will hope that this year’s technical issues are not to be repeated, but there is no doubt that Lovebox’s focus on creating a feel-good environment with acts and atmosphere to match will see it continue to grow in stature in coming years.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Images coutresy of Lovebox and Victor Frankowski