After stumbling into Lovebox at about 12 completely alone with no clear aims until Frankie Knuckles took to the stage some time later, I immediately hit upon the introducing stage and was briefly welcomed into the world of Jargon V ft J aims apparently.
They dont appear to exist on the internet but it consisted of a DJ, a hype-man (can I say that?) and a rapper named J aims, obviously and they were pretty good, and in humour at the 4 early festivallers known as “the crowd going wild” too. They jumped around for a bit and did a couple of tracks, i’m no big rap fan i’ll tell you that much but they were quite ‘sick’ i assume and proceeded to make all 4 of us rap down the mic with them – i felt a bit accomplished after that – then disappeared without a trace. That’s more of less how it went down from there on in.
Next I wandered over to The Big Top in search for more people, none of which appeared to exist as there were about 5 in there too, casually bobbing along to the ambient electronics of Face & Heel, a girl/boy singing synthy duo with some rather soothing tones and lull inducing sunday morning brilliance – I stayed and vibed til they upped sticks, two very very nice voices right there.
More aimless wandering sent us back to the intro tent to find a man who I saw an hour previous and almost stopped him to explain how great his hair/beard combo was standing onstage with a battered telecaster and a microphone, accompanied by a female guitarist and an invisible staggering drum machine – otherwise known as Joey Fourr. They glimmered with moments of short, snappy rock greatness but were left flailing behind in weaker whinier moments, when it was good, it was ace, but when bad, it was laughingly so – I wasnt aware the ‘drum machine phase’ shall we call it, was a real thing except for in biographies of now musical heroes, but this duo certainly proved it was, I have faith in them finding their feet and making it work pretty soon though – a lot of hope shines through those riffs, a lot indeed.
Moving on, I finally located some friends (!) slowly melting in the sun and we all got treated to the delights of a very picky Lil’ Kim soundcheck that was all very unsuccessful (she didn’t even show up for the set later on I’m told) before making MSMR late to the stage – a band who I’d initially hated but decided were actually quite good last week and really wanted to see. They eventually graced us with their prescence and brought with them a massive sigh of relief, finally some great good music. It was again very synth pop-py but with a cool edgy side of doo wops and New York excitement and everyone appeared to lap it up quite well – I was set back with how incredible they were and the album certainly sounds much more brilliant now, I later grabbed a word with MS aka …after they’d been watching Gabriel Bruce and she seemed very nice an’ humbled by my appreciation, which is always a nice thing.
One I really wasn’t expecting to witness in quite so good faith was one of Jools’ latest darlings Lianne La Havas, I did have my doubts when a burly rap fan started fangirling and going “Oh my god lianne she’s my baby, she’s so sick” and dying at her feet when she did take to the stage – amazingly his street cred with his lil kim fan friends appeared to remain in tact as her soulful sunday magic did work the wonders he was reanacting in fanboy mode. Sick isn’t exactly how I imagined anyone to ever describe her music, but she appeared to have some beautiful sounds and a hint of rebel when ruling and successfully left me wanting to have a secret listen to her album, Is Your Love Big Enough? naturally closed matters, everyone was grinning and one man’s certainly was.
After this and a ton more convincing myself I was going to die in the heat full well knowing it wasn’t all that long til the Bruce-ster (as my mother now calls him) took to the stage, as much as i really did quite not so secretly want to see Kelis do Milkshake and such, I opted out of the second row position in search of liquid and ice cream before realising I’d got the time wrong again and ended up standing at the back of the crowd in time for Bounce – a track that had escaped my mind that it was even hers and genuinely gave goosebumps when it dropped and the entire mass of people in front of me did as it commanded. I sort of regretted leaving immediately from there on in so didn’t kick around for much longer, she was parading about quite effortlessly and appeared brilliant – never did see Milkshake.
Anyway by that point I knew somewhere, somehow, Frankie Knuckles had kicked off his set and after staying up til 4am with my mum on NYE watching his set on Channel 4 with Annie Mac aswell as having a house DJ for an uncle and full well knowing I’d be condemned from the family if i didn’t catch a glimpse of The Godfather himself, I headed off in search of the elusive stage no one could appear to find. I ended up a bit sidetracked when passing the big top and catching Benoit & Sergio, another duo namechecked in the house house, absolutely smash the tent to pieces – despite the techy failures that seemed to occur at every set I attended all day, oops. By that point my neck had been grabbed on 3 seperate occassions within 10 minutes (tip: if you buy a set time lanyard, dont fucking have it on public display or else no one in the entire festival will bother buying one and just use you then steal your chips – 100% truth) so when the fourth man approached me i was swiftly stuffing the book into my pocket but it turned out he was a nice Frankie Knuckles fan with the same stage issues as me so I set off on following him to wherever the set was and finally reached the success sandwich of a tiny soundsystem, fifty thousand food stalls and a massive filling of a rammed crowd – it had taken so long that I only caught about 15 minutes but it was indeed very very good house, then i scarpered praying I hadnt missed the start of Gabriel Bruce.
I immediately reached the intro tent and saw him standing onstage with a fair few people milling around – impressed – but it turned out to be soundcheck still in my good luck and in not so good luck, the Farfisa had just broken and replaced by a Korg, it was a scene of restrained despair. Nonetheless, MSMR turned up to watch and the thunder got underway with a new song – I had been curious to whether there would be any new ones played since the last time what with all the new album talk but what I hadn’t anticipated was that they’d be quite so good – the band had now upgraded to guitarists and bass and the entire thing was even more heavy and brilliant. By the time Sermon On The Mount had started, after a deadpan mention of “my baby’s just died let’s make this quick” it appeared all the tech failure sadness had been channelled into intense performance strategy and dancing which only made things a ton better too and the tent was gradually filling before the still absolute incredible alt. disco of Greedy Little Heart had been launched into. No such overdramatic speech this time, but the rest made up leaps and bounds for it, it is the song of the year and anyone who argues that is wrong, even Suede.
After that we got Sleep Paralysis, still undoubtely one of the greatest songs ever and when the synth kicks in live, its another goosebump moment complete with slow mo end refrain and more infectious dancing from all involved. Complete with extra guitar and shining ace-ness (that’s a word now), Car’s Not Leaving proceeded to send the two guys next to me – big props to them they were going for it – as with the rest of us into a shaking frenzy before I *oh dear here comes another claim to fame* nearly jumped half a mile to the sound of “Is that daisy? oh hi daisy” echoing around the stage – it succeeded in making my day and probably then some- on an inevitable quest for minor indie celebrity stardom.
Then we got the dreaded “you need to finish” uttered from the back of the room, this is too much of a regular occurence with every musical act I ever really really think are great and how they could justify cutting such awesome for what I witnessed later on (2 dreary half assed rap acts pencilled into the schedule at the last minute that got in the way of Jon Hopkins’ aceness too) is beyond me to be honest with you but nonetheless a disheartening murmur of “ok let’s finish, tell me when a minute’s up and we’ll stop, this is a new one….I’m Gabriel Bruce by the way” and a launch into the storm of said new track happened with such amazement that it didnt really matter. The whole few minutes were a bit mindblowing, it was definitely a heavier more powerful type than anything on the album and ended in quite literally headbanging breakdowns before the stage was understatedly fled in admist the feedback drenched squeals. That was that then, if you haven’t attempted to listen to Love In Arms yet I am going to struggle to continue with whatever our reader – blogger relationship may be, you’re only depriving yourselves kids.
After aforementioned MSMR grabbing, I turned on my phone to see 19:27 and it dawned on me I’d promised myself and everyone else I’d be back before Hurts, they were scheduled to start 2 minutes ago and I promptly ran accross the field and barged through the dwindling crowd (Yes I was the “my friend’s over there” person, but they legit were and everyone looked a bit startled at my desperation as they appeared not to care either way, oh) it had been packed when I left but now there was hardly a soul left – their loss – and arrived trapped between a stupid couple (dont even ask it will end violently) and my friends as the duo (lots of duos aren’t there?) launched into Exile and instantly regained my faith. I hadn’t seen them in 2 1/2 years after a brief cancelled Brighton interjection and lots of melodrama destroyed my hope complete with a scaringly pains of being theo 2nd album that left me unsure, prior to this anyone that knows me knows I was a diehard Hurts fan, so I really didn’t quite know what effect that would have, but it certainly did the trick.
They flailed through Exile’s delights, even Sandman caught me singing along – first impressions are always wrong what can I say? – and treated us to the delights of Happiness aswell, Unspoken remains one of my favourite songs of all time and I genuinely wasn’t expecting it so that was very nice. It also turns out I appear to remember all the live variations to lyrics and such but the less said about that probably the better, clever things are subconciouses, especially when it comes to Hurts. The band looked very much like they were all enjoying it too, Theo seemed particularly spellbound at the response and it was a nice addition to see a bassist up there too – Onwards and upwards.
After finally getting out of the sweltering scrum near the front in favour of sheer relief, I quickly dashed off to catch Jon Hopkins – I’ve been completely captured by his work and latest album since seeing him support Pet Shop Boys last month, it’s ace – however it appeared they’d added some extra acts (hence why Mr Bruce was cut short) who were in a word or two, utterly terrible so I figured slinking back to the main stage to see whether Goldfrapp really were worth it for an hour would do, I caught a couple of songs which were quite nice, she hasa very incredible soaring voice – but standing at the back of a sullen crowd was not right when I’d been mentally prepared for some overly heavy dance so to speak so i went to see what Paul Kalkbrenner was up to at The Big Top, it was brimming. The man was quite clearly storming it and after trying my best to blend in with the severe dancing affairs, everybody knows I’m no Jarvis (or Julian Assange for that matter) and my arm was quickly grabbed my a man trying to instigate a dance off with several others around and including me, naturally this meant my sole reaction was to run – I’ve never been very good with human contact beyond a keyboard and didn’t occur to me til afterwards that he was merely opening up a circle for said dance off to ensue so I didn’t go back in fear of looking an overly harsh person.
By that point, Jon Hopkins was finally about to start so I fled off in the direction of the presents stage to see the crowd disintegrate and sauntered up to the barrier, the tech student within got the better and he had some incredible synthy things up there, sooner of later the best of Immunity, fourth killer album Ive been playing to death all month, was launched into with We Disappear, utterly incredible standout that soon blended into a rather lovely ambient electronic set that swiftly drew in every passer by. There were no insane visuals like the o2 this time which somehow improved matters extensively and being lost in sound was eventually the only option – so lost I nearly missed my train infact – due to the set times I found myself weaving back from the front past Kalkbrenner’s strobes (that still looked incredible) speedwalk down through the midsts of Mile End and back home via the delights of late night Victoria – I’ve never been quite so gutted or felt so bad about leaving a set, particularly as I knew I was in view, so Hopkins if you’re reading this (ha ha) blame SouthernRail for all you’ve got – but what I did see was quite frankly mindblowing.
As with all writing I do here, this started up as a legitimate musical review and ended in brief ramblings in the delights of my life, but Lovebox was a weird one, absolutely classicly brilliant festival I’d recommend to anyone, but certainly an experience like no other. Get on it.
Redfest tomorrow then, ace.