By Saturday afternoon, the post-work cobwebs had blown away and anything that was lacking in terms of festival spirit on Friday night was more than made up for.
While the main stage boasted a plethora of popular acts – including Roxy Music, Mark Ronson & The Business Intl and Paloma Faith – the day’s best were to be found on the smaller stages.
Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer were one of the highlights of the afternoon. Their catchy tunes delighted a packed crowd on the Gaymers stage as the sun finally won over the clouds after a day of changeable weather. This was followed by Grandmaster Flash who prompted ferocious bouts of dancing in the Rizla arena.
Highly anticipated German electro house duo Booka Shade prompted scenes of anger and aggression after security guards refused to let hoards of fans into the Relentless stage after the enclosed venue reached full capacity.
The day’s hidden gem was Hot Blood Soundsystem – playing in a small circus-style tent – who had a small but highly enthusiastic crowd dancing in the dust into the final moments of the night.
Here is how the day went for us:
Surprise guest Jay Electronica, dressed in sportswear with an iconic white towel slung over his shoulder clambers onto the main stage, holding a bottle of half-empty Jack Daniels . “What’s up Lovebox? Y’all mind if I have my Jack on-stage? I’ve been drunk all morning. Make your way to the main stage, y’all can’t be sitting on your asses like that. Yeah, you with the red shirt!”. New Orleans rapper Jay certainly has some great stage presence. He seems to be enjoying his first time playing at Lovebox, teasing the British about their World Cup performance against the States; after declaring himself as an Arsenal fan (followed by a few hisses and boos from the crowd), he explains he sings his next song acapella as a reminder of the US government and ‘the lies they tell about the truth behind 9/11’.
‘Hold up, wait a minute, stop stop’ he commands in the middle of a song, then shouts: ‘I don’t smell no weed. Anyone got weed?’, after which he climbed down into the audience. Security looked on nervously as he shouted ‘Yo you got that shit rolled up? Gimme some of that’, captured on the big-screen as he took a few hits. After his final song he jumped right back into the audience where he was mobbed. A random white guy took command of the mic and started rapping – sounded good, to the surprise of many including Jay himself.
Thoroughly amused by Jay’s better-than-expected act, we run down to the Gaymer’s Stage to try and see South East London’s very own: The Invisible. The Gaymer’s Stage with a Gaymer’s treehouse has balcony seating that looks over the Gaymer’s field; a paper-cup pint of the stuff costs four quid. Luckily there weren’t as many people here so I had the treat of being right up front, getting the full treatment of The Invisible’s chilled indie rock. They played a special extended live version of London Girl that was excellent, as were a number of new tracks off their upcoming album.
Almost spilled a pint of lukewarm cider trying to run back to the Main Stage; seeing a pretty girl with a bowler hat on the big screens, I knew it was South London’s Rox. Backed by a black Rickenback bass and a classy blood-red archtop electric, Rox had an impressive band complete with swinging backing singers. She clearly has a very strong following – most of the crowd (biggest I’d seen yet) knew the words to her songs. Playing a heady mix of reggae, up-beat radio pop and an odd emotional ballad, Rox has a fantastic well-polished sound. Her dancing on-stage was great, but her vocals were even better than they sound on record; her last song ‘Breakfast in Bed’ was amazing, greeted at the end with thunderous applause and calls for an encore…
Checked out The Jessie Rose Trip playing at the Gaymers Bandstand; I had the pleasure of checking JRT out at Brick Lane Takeover, so I was looking forward to them – and they didn’t disappoint. The lead singer, Jessie Rose, has such intense energy, she reminds me a lot of Debbie Harry’s punky ‘rock girl’ attitude. Just look at her Minnie Mouse bow, her blood-red hair, that cool electric guitar…‘Heels are comin’ off, let’s get down and dirty’ she says, as the three-piece band play some classic rock ‘n’ roll complete with soaring electric guitar solos. A couple at the front was really getting into the music, rocking out and dancing all throughout their one-hour set.
Just enough time to catch the great Wild Beasts –a real treat to see them live, as the band freely switches instruments and lead vocals in-between songs; my favourite song from them is ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancing On Our Tongues’, and it was even better live and I think the huge massive crowd would agree.
Ran back to the Bandstage to see the lively ragtime-folk-jams-loving Spanish group Manos De Dios, fully decked out in black suits. Their music is festive, jolly and loud – think Spanish summer parties, rumbas and gypsy music sung by a rowdy Spanish acoustic guitarist (running around on stage as he does it) backed by a laid-back electric guitarist who occasionally breaks out the lovely trombone for a truly carnival atmosphere. The crowd was in a craze, dancing non-stop and doing the do-si-do. Real shame they don’t have a proper record out – seems, for now, their cabaret magic can only be experienced live.
I wanted to stay for another song, but Midnight Juggernauts had come on and they’re an absolute must-see. Having just got out of the airport from Melbourne, Australia only an hour earlier, they looked a little worn out but still put on a fantastic show. The crowd was the biggest yet; inflated balls, cigarette butts and cider was flying around as they played their energetic rock-tinged dance music.
Down to the Main Stage for Mark Ronson and the Business Intl. Shockingly, Duran Duran made a surprise guest appearance. “I want to introduce a couple friends of mine for this next song,” declared Mark. “Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon.” Needless to say, the crowd erupted and everyone was rushing forward. There were a bunch of other guests as well, including Alex Greenwald (of The O.C. theme song fame) and MNDR (Amanda Warner, from Brooklyn NY) but Ronson – who is famed for his remixes of pop songs – was disappointing and failed to captivate the crowd.
The crowd was beginning to really build up now that Roxy Music was due to come on in less than 30 minutes. As the backdrop revealed RM’s logo, the crowd went wild. Minutes later, the band came on followed by Bryan Ferry in the flesh; the yells were deafening. This was their first UK gig in five years – though Brian Eno was sadly not there, original members Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera and ‘The Great’ Paul Thompson made their return. Bryan didn’t speak to the crowd much, with the occasional introducing of his band members as he switched between piano and vocals. Sure he didn’t look as cool as he did on The Old Grey in ’72 (and Andy wasn’t wearing a codpiece), but he was still magnetizing. Backed by four female backing singers and an amazing violinist in black leather, they dished out classics including ‘Love Is The Drug’ and ‘Let’s Stick Together’. Then the opening oboe notes of ‘Ladytron’ – as the band exploded into the mesmerizing instrumental section, so, too, did the crowd to my right. Turns out some guys got into a violent fight, thrashing around wildly as some brave souls tried to intervene; security was nowhere in sight. The second day of Lovebox came to a close with the seminal ‘Do The Strand’ – it’s the one we’d all been waiting for, and everyone was singing along. A fantastic day overall, though trudging back back through the pint cups and cans strewn across the fields wasn’t much fun.
With thanks to Miranda Bryant.