I’ve been to a Lovebox or two and like many who’ve frequented to past Loveboxs, there was an air scepticism on its big move to West London’s Gunnersbury Park. Not only did Lovebox have to deal with its move, it also had to deal with a certain American President being in town, which as you can imagine, resulted in heavy protests and it was this energy that extended to Gunnersbury Park. So much so it delayed SZA who was marking her big festival performance in the UK at Lovebox but her set was cut short after arriving an hour and a half late due to allegedly getting caught in the Trump protests. A shame, as she was many revellers’ reason for attending this year’s Lovebox.
Not long after Anderson. Paak blessed the stage and reminded us all of his ranging abilities, the man quite literally sang, rapped, danced, played the piano and drums whilst blazing through his classics and his critically-acclaimed Malibu album. Wu-Tang Clan, who for once had the majority of their members (Raekwon was there for once too), reminded us why they’re in fact for the children with revellers chanting their many hip hop anthems. Lovebox, which traditionally was a dance festival, now has broadened its appeal accommodating more hip hop, UK hip hop and R&B acts; gave Dave a leading role in its Noisey Stage, which had the young revellers skanking out to the south Londoner’s tunes. While his set was positive, the mixture of hype and slow songs was a bit too miss-matchy for me. Other Friday highlights included Vince Staples, who commanded the Noisey Stage with his lyrical-abilities and even dealt with an onslaught of revellers sprinting into the Noisey stage after the terrestrial rain that bathed Gunnersbury Park. Skepta who closed the night did so in his typical fashion, I’ve seen the BBK-frontman many a time, even as recent as Parklife in June and still I marvel at his live performances; especially with the addition of his hit track with ASAP Rocky “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)”.
An even warmer Saturday saw more love to house music fans, where the gang and I have a lot of love to the Kopperberg Stage, particularly Shy FX’s set which had his faithful two-stepping to a slew of bangers. Whilst I love the diversity of sound the walk from Kopperberg to the main stage was a bit of a trek, Lovebox was always notoriously known for its intimacy and the Victoria Park location encapsulated this. NERD was a breath of fresh air, taking many fans back to their teen years, a number of songs I had long forgotten about like “She Wants to Move” brought the most youthful feels. Of course, Pharrell referenced Trump’s “We stand for the resistance,” he continued, prompting loud cheers from all sides of the crowd. “They came to your country because they want to divide you but we don’t believe in that. We believe in inclusivity.” And it was this energy that best encapsulated the weekend, the celebration of diversity in light of separation. But no act created an excitement quite like Saturday’s headliner. Closing the festival, US rapper Childish Gambino stole the show with a passion and vigour that brought old and young together in wonder as he performed songs such as “Sober” and “Riot” with electric raw energy.