Two girls wear identikit festival uniforms: Hunter wellies, straw hats and demin shorts with the inside pockets peering through at the top of their legs. But there’s something wrong with this familiar festival image; the Hunters are box fresh, the girls’ hair under their hats is tangle and grease free, and they wear the clean, serene expressions of people whose day began, and will end, with hot water and a comfortable mattress.
This is Lovebox, the conveniently located festival in leafy Victoria Park, which runs from Friday to Sunday. The ‘festival-goers’ give the event an air of inauthenticity; it’s not raining, it’s not muddy, your flat is five minutes down the road in Mile End – do you really need those sparkly clean wellies? Doesn’t it make a mockery of the people who camp out for days on end, adding a thin wattle-and-daub coating of mud and sweat onto their bodies each day, plying their hair with yet more dry shampoo until it becomes a solid immoveable nest? Yes. Yes it does.
Aside from the pretentious festival gear, the event was cheery and upbeat, there was a minor scuffle during Dizzee Rascal, and the police caused a botteneck at the exits, but generally, everyone behaved themselves.
Dizzee himself was on top form, grinning between songs and bouncing about the stage, his energy rubbed off on the jumping crowd, best of all, he seemed genuinely thrilled to be performing on his home turf (as referenced in Heavy: “I can pay with cash or I can pay with debit/or I can do it the old way and leg it/big up the Bow E3 I still rep it/I still name check it”).
Electronic DJs Chase and Status made for a good warm up act, they produce and re-mix music so they lacked charisma on stage, but more than compensated with their adrenaline fueled dance tracks from their 2009 album More Than Alot.
A new discovery was Brodinski, a super-skilled French DJ who played in the Relentless tent, his set included heavy bass beats, scratchy techno and a piece called Dinosaurs with Guns. Weird but brilliant.
Crookers took the tempo up a notch for the final set in the Relentless tent, with a twitchy, epilepsy-triggering mix which sped smoothly through genres from electro-pop to ghetto-bass.
The scenes at the end of the night were more what you’d expect from a five day acid trip than an after work music concert. My notes at 10.30-11pm say: ‘A woman with a shock of wet white-blonde hair curles into a foetal position and sobs; a musician in the rizzla tent strips to his crumbling boxers and dances frentically; a man with a red pointy mohican stabs his neighbour in the eye with the sulpted point of his hair.’ It seems there was no gentle transition; people were instantly in full-on festival mode.
Overheard: Distressed woman on her mobile, backstage: “The client is asking for pills, but we only have coke.”
Surprise: Brodinski’s delicate good looks.
Advice: Watch out for people dancing in a confined space, with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, you will get burnt. And save the Hunters for a muddy day.