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Lovebox Saturday Victoria Park 190714 Wunmi Onibudo 19 MIA crowd

The 10 Best Things We Saw At Lovebox

24 July 2014, 09:58

Last weekend’s Lovebox was a festival of extremes. Friday was the hottest day of the year and Saturday could well have been the stickiest. The queues for food and drink were extreme too, but then again, so was the music - the festival offered one of the most diverse and eclectic lineups of the year. Here are ten of best things we saw …

1. Madlib

The infamous producer who has worked with the likes MF DOOM, Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli gave us dose of disco, soul and dub reggae before jetting off to perform at Soundwave Festival in Croatia. Still enjoying the underground success of Pinyata - his collaboration with rapper Freddie Gibbs, he later dropped the album’s lead single “Thuggin” along with some vinyl rarities.

2. Nubiyan Twist

This 12-piece outfit was undoubtedly one of our favourite discoveries at the festival. The lead singer, Nubiya Brandon, has vocals that draw comparison to the likes Holly Cook and The Skints. The band’s music is a fusion of Afrobeat and Reggae, which sounds fresh and summer-ready. This winning combination made the bandstand the place to be. They’ll definitely be worth watching out for if you are lucky enough to be attending Boomtown or Secret Garden Party this summer.

3. Hercules and Love Affair

Fresh from rocking the Dance Hall at festival Dour in Belgium the day before, this resplendent bunch were one of the acts of the festival. The eighties throwback “You Belong” and jubilant electro of “Blind” sent a wave around Victoria Park.

4. Submotion Orchestra

The Leeds-based group provided a good, relaxing stopping gap for people who had spent most the festival raving to house and techno DJs.

5. Huxley

This year, Lovebox brought DISTRIKT, a stage that has featured at US desert festival Burning Man, to the UK for the first time. It bore the shape of a lurching grey tower - but people could dance on the top of it. Although many enjoyed the ominous techno of Paul Geddes and DJ Kramer, it was house star Huxley that stood out the most, providing the perfect soundtrack to the Saturday afternoon.

6. The Correspondents

The lycra-clad poster boys of jaunt; The Correspondents, were another highlight from the bandstand. Giving audience a hit of their spandex swing, they played old favourites including the jazzed-out “Washington Square” and their version of Jungle Book’s “I Want To Be Like You”. It’s still impossible to work out how the lead singer keeps dancing frenetically through the whole length of each show.

7. Woodkid

The crowd for this act was criminally sparse – but it was no surprise, given the cocktail of clashes at Lovebox this year. The Hudson Mohawke-style horns of “Iron” and the haunting strings of “Run Boy Run” sounded amazing on the West stage – which didn’t seem to have suffered the same sound problems as the main stage.

8. Klangkarussell

It is not often dance music works with live instrumentation, but Austrian group Klangkarussell proved that they could make it happen. Taking a leaf from Booka Shade’s errm book, they used drum kits and percussion to enrich the sound of their live show. And by finishing on festival-ready ditty “Sommetanz”, this band could do no wrong.

9. Nas

How often do you get the privilege of seeing one of the best artists of their genre perform arguably what is the greatest album of that genre? Clearly not often enough, if Nas’s set was anything to go by. Unfazed by the weedy sound levels of the main stage, he performed his debut album Illmatic in full to mark the record’s twentieth anniversary. “A lot of you weren’t even born when I made this album,” he observed, before heralding the age of the cassette tape. The seminal album sounded almost as perfect live as it did on record, attracting one of the largest crowds of the festival. But after going through the album closer, ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’, Nas still had a lot of ground to cover. He paid homage to Biggy Smalls and 2pac before reeling off a number of his other hits, including “Street Dreams”, “I Can” and “Made You Look”.

Elsewhere on the West Stage, it was clear that rising rapper Joey Bada$$ had a lot still to learn about performing live. Trying to partition the crowd by telling one side to say “fuck you” to the other may not have been the brightest idea.

10. Bonobo

It was a shame that M.I.A’s headline slot was curtailed by a power cut and sound issues. She had a fantastic light show and impressive dancers (20 of them, wearing “Stop Tamil Deportation” t-shirts), but the Saturday night clearly wasn’t her night. But it was Bonobo’s night. Bringing his full live show to Lovebox, the Brighton DJ left The Big Top in awe during mellow tracks such a “Cirrus” and “Recurring”. The energy behind the upbeat “Kong” and “We Could Forever Live” sent the crowd into frenzy, ending the festival on the perfect note.

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