Lovebox 2014, review: A chaotic success

While MIA suffered sound problems, not many festivals would be brave enough to showcase so many new and exciting artists

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The Independent Culture

Only a month since Field Day hit the east end and Victoria Park is still recovering as it's grass yet again witnesses thousands of minimally clothed punters invading Lovebox on the hottest weekend of the year.

On Friday, it's teenage rapper Joey Bada$$ who does his best to rouse the crowd from their summer stupor. Spitting lyrical on “95 'til Infinity”, he leaps across the West Stage, making the crowd spill their Aperol Spritz's as they bounce along.

Over at the mainstage Katy B steals the show from under Kiesza's feet who only set the bar high earlier with her 90's-trance inflected set including summer hit single, “Hideaway”.

Playing a tightly rehearsed set with early hits like “Katy On A Mission” still sounding fresh and dedicating “What Love is Made Of” to her inspiration, Aaliyah. It was the tracks from Katy B's second album Little Red though, and a cover of Tina Moore's '95 hit “Never Gonna Let You Go” that made the crowd jump, backed by an unstoppably energetic troupe of backing dancers.

Chase & Status headline the mainstage on Friday with a career spanning show including “Gun Metal Grey” and “Flashing Lights”.

Guest vocalists come and go including rapper, Kano joining the stage for “Against All Odds”,  Liam Bailey on “Blind Faith” and Moko on “Count On Me”. Ending with singles from their debut album, “Take Me Away” and “Eastern Jam” that launch Vicky Park into a euphoric haze of strobe lights, confetti and fireworks.

Saturday is a more hectic affair with modest crowds forming at Bipolar Sunshie and The Horrors at the Noisey stage, it is DISTRIKT stage that sustains the largest crowd.

The electronic stage from the Burning Man music collective is in its first year at Lovebox, rivalling some the best DJ performances like Cyril Hahn, Fort Romeau and Monki on the other stages in Saturday's blistering heat.

Playing an entire set dedicated to the hip-hop masterpiece Illmatic, today Nas celebrates the record's twentieth anniversary and there's  a palpable sense of excitement when the rapper takes to the stage.

From the first xylophone notes of “One Love” to “N.Y State Of Mind”, the 40-year-old shows off his years of skill and experience with an unsurpassable and electrifying lyrical flow.

Following Nas's moderate sound levels, it is MIA who has the worst luck of the weekend. Backed by 20 people wearing “Stop Tamil Deportation” T-shirts, the singer repeatedly asks for her mic to be turned up as she spits through “Bucky Done Gun” and as the audio deteriorates, MIA is clearly irritated. Shaking her head, going off and on stage, scraping through “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls” and giving up by cutting off 25 minutes early.

Such sound restrictions and audio problems may be the order of the day but the weekend is successful in portraying new acts in dance music.

With the vast number of stages and curations this year the crowd are opened up to new and exciting artists that not many London-based festivals would be brave enough to put on.

While there's a sense of Notting Hill Carnival's chaos, Lovebox 2014 is certainly a success that leaves many with a hangover.