Location: Victoria Park, East London.
Every year Victoria Park never fails to portray what East London’s music scene is all about. Such festivals like the chic of Field Day to the Dance driven party that is Lovebox bring together a colourful mix of music to get lost in, move with or to simply admire while basking in the unusual British summertime Sun.
This year was my second visit to Field Day and my third for Lovebox; and I can safely say it has been by a long shot the most fulfilling year which left me wishing I had gone and bought the 2 day ticket rather than just the Saturday for Lovebox. So Saturday, despite the scorching weather and wall of humidity, the atmosphere around Vicky Park was fervent and lively – possibly still on an electrical high after Friday night’s headliners Chase and Status, who I have witnessed previously (Reading 2013) and know well of their pervasive energy on offer. DJ sets dominated the day from the mid-afternoon and well into the evening. My appreciation for DJing and Dance music in general has developed immensely in the last 12 months, so I made it my sole mission to sweep up as many sets as I could, beginning with Breach on the main stage. BenWestbeech, aka Breach, certainly helped to bring that party island atmosphere early on with his latest single Everything You Never Had (ft AndreyaTriana who was fantastic performing this live)
standing out and getting the ‘let’s wear as little as possible’ groupies swaying across the field.
Further DJ sets from Ben Pearce (What I Might Do) to Scuba (Boiler Set with George Fitzgerald)
and Huxley (Love Lost) each provided me with the full deep house and techno infusion I had been waiting for. I have to give huge credit to Lovebox for their site design. Barring the main stage which had it’s own ‘arena’ separated by the trees all the other stages were very close and hopping between sets was incredibly easy with each stage having its own resonance and appearance that varied from the previous. Notable examples of this were Huxley on an industrial or warehouse looking Distrik stage, to the Manor where Ben Pearce and Scuba led the ‘house party’ precessions.
The final DJ to which I drove through the fluorescent, Ray-Ban clad hordes was German producer, Tensnake. Fresh off his first full-length album (Glow), which was released earlier this year, Tensnake raised the feel good factor with his disco infused set. It was very clear to see how disco legend, Nile Rogers, was included in Tensnake’s debut album (Love Sublime) and even more distinct to Lovebox was how the Dance music on offer covered a wide spectrum of genres and not just the current trend of deep house and trap.
Away from the DJs was a pleasant surprise from a refreshingly new girl band under the name Juce. I had the brief knowledge of this band from a Sound Cloud snippet I found a couple of weeks back and with that intrigue I ventured into the Big Top to see this trio of girls from London. To get straight to the point, I was left wanting so much more from this set in the most positive sense. Juce would prove to be the most exciting act of the day, their sound easily filling the Big Top tent and backing the recent hype surrounded by their name. In recent memory I have struggled to think of a girl band THIS refreshing. Quick thoughts jump out to Haim and even the heavier hitting Pop Noire group Savages. However, those two groups respectively being more guitar driven don’t match up to Juce’s grooving pop flow and soul that was displayed so well the crowd inside the tent tripled by the end of the set. Juce were great at what they were trying to do. The track Burning Up which was recently debuted on SoundCloud
just two weeks ago proved to be the standout, with lead singer Chalin Barton’s eloquent voice proving extremely delightful and mixed in with Cherish Kaya’s stirring bass play and Georgia Lee’s funky synths the chemistry of the band was infectious. The pop and funk sound Juce put out is something that should garner much talk going forward and I will be looking forward to seeing this girl group grow in popularity in the months to come.
To the West Stage where I picked out Field Day favourites The Horrors, for their set in support of their most recent album Luminous. (The band actually has a connection with Juce in that both lead singer of The Horrors, Faris Badwan and Juce bass player, Cherish Kaya worked together on a Black Lips cover that was released as a B-side)
. Back to Luminous and the album has been up there with my most treasured releases this year showing the band’s diversity going from post punk drudgery to the shoe gazing Skying into an almost neo psychedelic and dream pop that Luminous provides. The band burst on with Chasing Shadows to open the set and mixed it up from old tracks to mostly Luminous on display. There were some issues with the sound quality however, with Faris Badwan microphone seeming to be turned down and his voice failed to travel at times. However, the band still proved to be a must-see on the day with their all black-skinny jeaned couture significantly standing out in the fluorescent jungle of Lovebox.
Speaking of the jungle, next up was Crystal Fighters who look very much like they were stranded in a feverish Amazonian jungle having the time of their lives. There was nothing short of feel good happiness, spinning, clapping, laughing and dancing throughout the set. Their dreamy lyrics provided the crowd much to sing-along to and I found much of the crowd to be loyal followers of the band. With the majority of the audience recognising every track with glee, they responded to Crystal Fighters’ call for one big cave rave. If multicultural influences were on display at Lovebox that day, Crystal Fighters were on par with M.I.A for epitomising this. This was clearest with the Basque folk (loved the use of txalaparta) and dubstep/electronic sound lining up next to each other, from Europe to London, the mix was perfect for the occasion. I’d advise those looking for a mesmerised night out of joyous dancing which steps away from the current trend of techno, house and trap that Crystal Fighters would provide a great alternative. The only negative aspect was once again the sound quality from the West Stage. My fears of it just being The Horrors and Faris Badwan’s vocals being the issue were squashed when the same problem arose for Crystal Fighters.
My evening had finally led me to the headline act: M.I. A. The rain had held off despite some dark over-looking thundershowers approaching and the London native M. I. A had garnered such anticipation that scores sprinted to catch her set. M. I. A. has always been able to draw attention on and off the stage and Saturday night was no different. Portraying her global yet distinctly London sound was an excellent choice from Lovebox – tracks such Bamboo Banger sent the glow stick wielding masses into a frenzy and M.I.A. lapped up all the energy despite once again the sound problems that became a theme with everyone except the DJ sets. Repeatedly, M.I. A. had to beckon for her mic to be turned up and this all culminated with disaster for her when half way through Hussel and dozens of fans being brought on stage a power outage with the sound equipment happened. Stranded on stage with no sound, a clearly aggrieved M.I.A. walked off as they cleared the stage. It would be another 10 minutes before she returned but the overall set would be cut half an hour short. Such a disappointing way to end the day but M.I.A., and credit to her, recovered to perform three final tracks for the Lovebox crowd.
The trap infused Double Bubble Trouble and Middle Eastern swagger of Bad Girls brought the party back to life. M. I. A. would obviously end the processions with Paper Planes, allowing everyone to wield hand shaped guns towards the night sky. Although marred by an awful power outage in a headline slot, M.I.A still brought the noise to East London in a day that clearly demonstrated the Dance culture right now and the appreciation that Londoners have for various Dance genres. The sunshine reigned throughout the day and the music left everyone searching/wanting for the after party.