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It’s been a testing year for Lovebox Festival after being rehoused to Gunnersbury Park, in the opposite end of town to where it’s been nurtured into one of London’s social calendar mainstays. Thankfully, it was rammed and the new location is gorgeous (including swans on a lake as your enter the festival). The walk from the nearest station is super short and convenient, and yes, the fans turned out in force. Its triumphant move to the west was compounded by some great bookings, welcoming the likes of Skepta, Bicep, Childish Gambino, Anderson .Paak, and SZA. Minimal clashes on the programme also meant that, hurrah, most fans got to see everyone we wanted to.
Here are just some of our highlights, and what we learned at Lovebox 2018.
Anderson Paak is going to take over the world
This is an artist that could already be headlining, and he didn’t disappoint. He was effortless in his performance, and the crowd went crazy for him; one of the few acts around that might even sound better live than on record. No mean feat considering that his record is already pretty incredible.
Pharrell Williams may be the nicest man in music
N*E*R*D performed a set than spanned all their records, from She Wants To Move encouraging thousands of fans to shout “she’s sexy!” across the arena, to their latest offering Lemon.
Their fans were nuts, hurling themselves over the front barrier in hope that the band will invite them on stage. And occasionally Pharrell did, but only – as we found out later – their most intense fans who had been following them around on the summer tour. The fans think it’s the last N*E*R*D tour ever, and we’d recommend you get to a show (admittedly you might have to go abroad for this).
After their set, Pharrell was descended upon by fans and staff for photos and autographs and handshakes and despite being exhausted from their set, he took time for each and every person he met, mild mannered, and pleased to see everyone. In our books that makes him officially the nicest man in music.
Cycling Short Onesie Playsuits are a thing
Lovebox is filled with its fair share of attractive people, and you can see all the latest trends and fashions. Our favourite festival gear was some harem trousers with Obama’s face on them. We were baffled by the new trends for tight playsuit/onesies that are sort of like cycling shorts, and it seems they also need to be see-through. Impressive.
UK artists were brilliantly represented
Friday nights headline set came from Skepta, and Mabel (yes via Spain) owned the mainstage, whilst Annie Mac held court on the DJ side of things blasting out top mixes that kept the crowd bouncing. But it wasn’t only on the main stage where UK talent dominated crowds. Jungle Brown’s set surprised an unsuspecting audience, Dave continuef to go from strength to strength as did up-and-comer Grace Carter, and Mike Skinner & Murkage drew huge crowds. We also had a lot of very local talent perform at Hip Hop Karaoke (ahem).
Festival food is on the mend
We steered clear of usual festival diet of chips and burgers and we’re now staunch followers of the cheese crepe and cheese toastie vans at festivals. Keep your eyes peeled for them – not only are they delicious but they’re cheaper than other meals and waaay more practical – gone are the days of sauce slopping onto your festival get-up. Oh, and always add tabasco.
All hail Childish Gambino
Donald Glover continues to put us all to shame. How is one person able to hold so much talent? From winning awards for writing (30 Rock, Atlanta), to acting (Atlanta, and yes ladies and gents, Magic Mike XXL) and making amazing records. As well as all that, he’s also got crazy stage presence and some SERIOUS energy performing live.
His performance told the story of his lyrics, and no part of the stage was left untouched. If you were lucky enough to be at front, he got really close. His expressive performance saw fans go absolutely wild. Ultimately, anyone who wants to learn how to be a great performer needs to see Childish Gambino live.
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Photo courtesy of Lovebox Festival