Lovebox celebrated a decade of love this year, hosting its 10th festival in East London’s Victoria Park. Having heard a lot of mixed things, I was a bit nervous about what cultural and audible fancies lay ahead of me. But I needn’t have worried. There were many attractions and wonders around the festival. Of course there were the typical funfair rides: waltzers, dodgems, a helter skelter and the like. But there were also far more varied forms of entertainment to keep a festival-goer busy.
Time Out magazine came along and brought a photo booth – which just happened to be in a black cab. There was a ‘banger art’ exhibition (art on or made out of old rust-bucket cars), gymnasts, and I’m sure I even saw an impromptu cheerleading display. There was also a 3-hour long b-boy competition going on at one of the areas, which I’d never seen at a festival before.
The essence of the festival, however, was the music, and in my opinion Saturday was by far the best day for that. New girlband Stooshe took to the second stage earlier in the day, and I have to admit I was really surprised by them. I was expecting a poor Sugababes clone, but these girls can really sing. Their covers were mesmerising too, with a beautiful rendition of TLC’s Waterfalls, followed by an intriguing mash up of Ben Howard’s Only Love and Rihanna’s Where Have You Been. But the girls really shone with their own songs, providing seemingly flawless vocals combined with dance routines. Their crowd-pleasing, audience-participating Kiss Chase is sure to be a chart hit.
Next on the bill on the second stage was Dot Rotten, providing something for the rap fans (of which there seemed to be quite a few). Not entirely my scene these days, however Rotten has something of a loyal following and can hold and play an audience well.
Over on the main stage, things were a bit more laid back. Maverick Sabre charmed the crowd with his half-English, half-Irish accent, wooing his fans with a mellow half hour. But then he mixed it up a bit for the latter half of his set with dubstep infused songs, featuring a dub-heavy version of hit Let Me Go. He then finished with his best known (at least to the crowd) hit of the day, I Need. It’s hard to believe such a strong performer with a soulful voice is only 21.
Then Emeli Sande took over, opening with her massive 2011 hit Heaven to get the crowd livened up again. She continued with her piano-driven pop songs from her number 1 debut album Our Version Of Events, including Daddy, My Kinda Love and finishing with recent number 1 Next To Me. Fans seemed a little put out that she didn’t perform Read All About It, the hit with Professor Green that really put her on the musical map.
After a chilled out afternoon, original festival creators Groove Armada took to the stage to celebrate their decade of love with the help of some friends. They performed versions of You Got The Love and Song For Mutya. The atmosphere as they played legendary hits I See You Baby and Supastylin was second to none.
Surprisingly though, Groove Armada chose not to close the Saturday of their own festival, instead handing the stage over to indie boys Friendly Fires. A popular choice with the crowd, the boys got everyone dancing to hits from albums from debut LP Friendly Fires and second effort Pala, including Skeleton Boy and Jump In The Pool.
Having an eclectic mix of acts across a range of genres, as well as offering attractions for everyone are definitely main factors in how the festival reached its 10th birthday. It also gives you no excuse not to buy a ticket and experience it for yourself. With a festival this good, I’m sure Groova Armada will be celebrating another decade of love in 10 years time.