Lovebox Weekender 2007

•• Lovebox Weekender 2007 - Day One @ Victoria Park, London,
21 July 2007
•• Published: SoundsXP, July 2007
•• Original article:

Groove Armada boys Tom Findlay and Andy Cato present this, their fifth Lovebox Weekender at Victoria Park, deep in Hackney's underbelly. But while they can be loosely termed a dance act, the festival's reach goes far beyond just dance music.

A glance at today's line-up shows Welsh indie veterans Super Furry Animals rubbing creative shoulders with new ravers New Young Pony Club, smooth electro slinger Tiga, evergreen crowd pleasers Blondie and funk legends Sly & The Family Stone.

We begin with a quick duck into the rammed Strangelove tent where Scratch Perverts are serving up breaks, reggae and a touch of old school rave. With huge queues for DJ Maurice Fulton's deck-wizardry outside the rather impressively designed Horse Meat Disco fake shopfront, we plump for the wide open space of the main stage instead.

The Presets play their mix of indie and electropop with elements of New Order flitting in and out of earshot. At one point the duo's set starts to plod but then surges into Daft Punk's 'Da Funk' which is a perfect example of the unexpected musical twists and turns Aussies Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes serve up. They end on an energetic finale with 'I Go Hard I Go Home'. This is a celebrity-strewn affair too as their set is witnessed by Sanjay from EastEnders no less. This show-ending crescendo is so full on it bursts the overhead cloud and the rain starts to fall.

Over at the Strangelove tent, Freeform Five spin the Soulwax mix of 'Standing In The Way Of Control' which goes down well as ever before pumping out some obligatory electro stompers. More sedate sounds come from the main stage where early nineties heroes Soul II Soul play through their back catalogue. While it goes to prove Jazzie B et al haven't lived up to the sentiment behind 'Keep On Moving', it's a well-delivered trip down memory lane all the same.

Tiga takes care of the smoked out (Ban? What ban?!) Strangelove tent with some high energy dance but Blondie are about to take to the stage so off we go to catch the sexagenarian Deborah Harry and her band. Initially she looks tired and her voice is lost in a sea of bass as they open with 'Atomic', but it's understandable she may not be bristling with energy. Besides, the crowd love it as she runs through 'Tide Is High', 'Picture This' and most recent chart-bothering hit 'Maria'.

Harry looks like she's not really enjoying herself but perks up massively towards the end of the set, launching into an extended version of 'Rapture', followed by singalong favourite 'One Way Or Another' before ending on 'Heart Of Glass'.

Sundown marks the appearance of Sly & The Family Stone on a London stage for the first time in 20 years. The pioneers of funk begin with classics 'Dance To The Music' and 'Everyday People' and it's a privilege to hear such hugely influential music played live by the originators. But there's someone very important missing.

Well known for his no-shows and infamous drug struggles, it's not until about five tracks in that Sly Stone finally arrives on stage. He performs a couple of well-received yet mumbled funk numbers before announcing to the massed thousands, "I have to go take a piss." That's showbiz for you!

Thankfully, he returns again shortly after and in spite of the odd downpour the rest of the set is both extremely well-executed by the band and lapped up by the crowd. Whether it's more down to his legacy than his actual performance it still feels special to have seen a mould-breaking musical pioneer on stage. Sadly the curfew passes before there's time for 'Family Affair' and it's time to go home.

Like any festival there are many festivals-within-a-festival to experience at Lovebox. Spending most time around the main stage and catching some big name acts meant other stages like the Clash tent with Friendly Fires, Pull Tiger Tail and The Bees were neglected and the strong dance contingent was also largely overlooked.

The line-up was certainly the most varied and diverse to date and straddled many different musical camps with relative ease. All credit to Andy and Tom for managing to pull it off.

- Ian Roullier, 07/2007
Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014