Little things can be annoying, can’t they? Transport for London’s weekend line closures, for example. Dominos Pizza charging a whole pound for an extra sachet of garlic sauce. Or musicians cancelling festival appearances that you’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. All of the above happened this weekend. But we’re not ones to dwell.
As such, the second day of Lovebox commences with an irresistible sense of frustration over the absence of Azealia Banks and Bobby Womack in the line-up. The rain didn’t help either, nor did everyone’s adamancy to don sunglasses despite its arrival.
Still, the capital’s premier dance festival, now celebrating its 10th successful year, manages to lift our moods pretty quickly. And of course, when you’re surrounded by 50,000 people, a good few cider tents, art displays and Gigwise’s personal favourite, a hula-hooping corner, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself, is it?
From the Big Top stage, where Hospitality Records have dropped anchor, people are raving to the likes of Hospital DJs and The Prototypes & AD before we’ve even had time to think about lunch.
We finally settle to watch Maverick Sabre get the party atmosphere started on the Main Stage with a well-needed injection of pop-soul. London’s newest rap-cum- reggae star, often referred to as the ‘male Amy Winhouse’, performs track after track from debut album 'Lonely Are The Brave'. “Have we got any old school Maverick fans in here?” he asks, and a few people whoop. “But is he just a ginger plan B though?” Someone nearby remarks.
We move on to watch Rita Ora tear up the Outdoor Stage with recent hits ‘Hot Right Now’, ‘R.I.P’ and latest single ‘Party and Bullshit’. At one point, she even elevates herself to Janet Jackson level with an accidental boob flash – what would a festival be without one, you could ask.
Afterwards, there are moans as Kelis is late. When she finally arrives on stage half an hour later, she’s dressed in what appears to be a black swan that found the wrong end of the shredder. But she falls back into our good books with a set that could get Victoria Park’s biggest scrooge dancing. Her DJ plays ‘Groove is in the Heart’ before mixing into the Calvin Harris featuring crowd-pleaser ‘Bounce’. Cindy Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ acts as a peculiar yet successful backdrop to ‘Milkshake’, which then leads into Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and in ode to the original spirit of disco, the late Donna Summer’s, ‘I Feel Love’. The Queen of R’n’B truly regains her throne this evening and everyone’s left wanting more.‘
We rush back to the Main Stage for festival founders, Groove Armada’s highly anticipated set. The duo play a mix of both popular hits and lesser-known, newer material from 2010’s Black Light album. The X-rated blow up doll making it’s way around the front of the audience is a little distracting, but classics such as ‘Superstylin’ and ‘I See You Baby’, which work the crowd into a sheer frenzy, soon make us forget this. There is a surprise cameo when the boys invite Candi Staton onto stage for a rendition of 'You Got the Love’. And on the final track, an explosion of CO2 cannons from the front of the stage go far to cement the celebratory air.
Unsurprisingly, Friendly Fires close the evening with a perfect headline set. Opening with ‘Lovesick’, the band create a carnival atmosphere as they play tracks from their self-titled debut album and 2011’s Pala. “Pretend we’re all on a Tropical Island,” frontman Ed Macfarlane says inbetween his now cherished Mick Jagger thrusts and shakes. By this point in the night, it’s not hard to. High spirits and energy have transformed the crowd into an indie-disco dancefloor, amongst which the most dedicated whine and weep along to tracks 'Skeleton Boy' and ‘Paris’. The rest just enjoy toe tapping in sync to bongo drums.
All in all, a great way to start festival season.