Lovebox 2012 - Not on top form but still enjoyable.

Celebrating it’s tenth anniversary, Lovebox really has seen it’s variety of great headliners, from Snoop Dogg who we saw last year to Duran Duran, Jimmy Cliff, Blondie, Joey Negro, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, and many other greats in past events.

Having enjoyed the event last year, I attended the festival with assumptions of a good time and a fun experience. Unfortunately it wasn’t the full package that I hoped for, although I enjoyed great company and live acts, I felt like my day at Lovebox was comparable to that feeling you get when you attend a concert of your favourite ever band, only to find that they are not on top form that night.

When I arrived the security kept sending me to different entrances because of my press pass, a needless activity that took a good hour out of day, I decided however to shake off my bad mood because of this and enjoy the rest of the day.

On the previous year the same day had sold out, despite this bars were quicker and I don’t remember having to queue that long for food,drink or toilets. Whether the festival had expanded capacity or punters decided to show up earlier this year, a relaxed flow was not the case.

Queues are to be expected at festivals but Lovebox was beyond ridiculous. Toilet queues in certain areas seemed endless with no periods of dieing down during performances, the odd choice to put up girls and boys sectioned toilets were also confusing. It’s a portaloo, at a festival, sorry guys but it makes no difference. At one point I ended up walking into the supposed guys area and thankfully fellow festies didn’t batter an eyelid, they knew my pain.

Bar queues stretched so far out of the tent, in some areas where you had other branded bars stationed next to the general festival bars, queues got so bad you weren’t really sure what you were queueing for.

The branded bars were a joke, as the Red Bull bars choice of spirit and Red Bull cost you around the £7 mark and the spirit was only a single shot, while the Bulmers Bar only served Pear Bulmers.

There were walking bars, i.e men with backpacks of tuborg on their back with a dispenser, however as the queues were so bad, those poor dudes were literally pounced on revellers and often shouted and cursed at when their supplies ran out.

This may sound like not so serious first world problems, but after queing for the bar in a queue that didnt move for 15 mins, followed by queing for two tuborg dudes who seemed to run out of juice two punters before me, I found myself randomly shouting “I JUST WANT A BLOODY BEER!”.

The large crowds also affected the main stage experience, at most festivals even if the main stage is packed there is always some way of making the best of your view and making your own party at the back, this was a lost cause during Groove Armada and me and my newly discovered friends ending up heading back to the Hospitality tent, which brings me on to the parts of the festival I did enjoy.

The decision to have the Hospitality stage in a tent, as opposed to an outdoor stage like last year, was a fantastic choice. It really pumped up the usual hyped mood to a whole new level, and even during packed times smiles were to be seen all round.

Earlier in the day I saw the legend that is David Rodigan, a DJ that has to be seen to believed! His passion for the British music scene was displayed in his choices, his speeches in between drops and songs, and his dancing alone was just phenomenal.

Another act I enjoyed was the adorable Rita Ora, while I’m still a fan of female pop and R&B singers I have recently found myself losing interest in the genre and not following it too closely. While many pop acts are visually unique and memorable, I feel that many often lack the actual live talent to back it up.

This can not be said for Rita, who as soon as she hits the stage is met with a fantastic response from the crowd. Swishing her hair, bopping up and down, running around the stage, jumping off and climbing back on, all the while managing to maintain the notes, I would happily have watched her performance all over again.

Praise can also be awarded to Maverick Sabre, I’ve been quite a late comer to Sabre and have to admit I had not listened to any of his material before I attended. When I noticed him on the bill, I knew I had to check him out as there is quite a buzz surrounding him.

This is a buzz well deserved, because in my opinion he takes the elements I enjoy of the likes of Plan B and finesses it. Organisers should be applauded for the decision to put him on at that time of the day, as his sound was perfect for that late afternoon transition.

The Vintage fair was also a brilliant treat, sometimes you don’t know what to expect at Vintage fairs, with some ,let’s be honest, ripping you off, while others sell themselves so short that despite paying, in your soul you know you’re stealing. However this fair was perfect, with a variety of prices and a great selection, I have to confess I spent a little longer in their than I should!There were also tons of really fun pop-up parties, giving the festival an almost carnival feel in some areas.

I don’t want to admit but it I also really enjoyed Stooshe, but before hardcore fans attack me let me explain my dubious nature.

When I initially heard and investigated Stooshe, they reminded me of some of the problems I have with pop music, which is that what you hear of some acts live rarely translates as well onto the studio albums. Once certain producers get their mitts on a acts sound, the final product can often feel a bit underwhelming and cliche.

I find the talking during the intro to “Betty Woz Gone” irritating, and the changes to “Fuck Me” to “Love Me” a bit weak and bowing down to the hope of radio play.

However when I saw them live I remembered what initially attracted me to them, you can see they are inspired by the likes of Salt N Pepa, TLC and other female artists of that era. But rather then rip them off directly, Stooshe take these influences and work with them, to make a live act which is fun, contagious and full of good times.

I was also very lucky to meet a lovely group in one of the painful bar queues, a group I ended up spending the remainder of the day and night with, which I was very thankful for. We had an awesome time when we returned to the Hospitality tent to the sounds of Netsky!

Before I left the event I went to enjoy a peek at Booka Shade, and I also headed over to watch Friendly Fires. Both were very enjoyable ends to what was overall an ambivalent experience.

My advice for next year is to reduce the numbers of attendees to or increase the bars and toilets, I’d also keep the Hospitality area in a tent as this went down really well with the crowd. I think as day festivals go, Lovebox always tries to provide revellers with a great variety, and while I felt a little let down this year, I shall definitely be returning some time in the near future.

Happy 10th Birthday Lovebox!