Archive for the ‘Festival’ Category

Lovebox Festival – Day 1 2012 – Friday 15th June featuring Ms Dynamite, Rhythms of the City, Madeon & Hot Chip (headlining)

 

10 Years of Lovebox - Lovebox Festival Friday 15th June 2012

10 Years of Lovebox – Lovebox Festival Friday 15th June 2012

 

My party and I were really looking forward to this year’s Lovebox festival on many levels; myself because, this year’s is Lovebox’s 10th anniversary and I was looking forward to all 3 days, my niece because she likes live music and enjoys London music festivals and her father, because it’s his first ever festival in his life.

It proved to be a very lively, diverse and memorable experience for all of us. No two days were similar. Here’s an account of Day 1.

As so often in England at the start of the festival, the omens, weather-wise, were not good. As we waited our turn in the long queue (line) in front of the portacabin –style box office, we were already standing in the boggy in-roads of other people’s Wellington boot marks – a site that is practically synonymous with the English festivals season. The sky was turning around ominously alternating between glimpses of blue sky, the odd ray of sun, but mainly grey cloud which in turn was punctuated with the odd gust of a squally shower.

After a wait of about 20 minutes to pick up tickets with credit cards during which my niece fretted over being in the right line for ticket collection, we achieved our goal and had even managed to bat away a shady looking ticket tout and sell a spare ticket we had at a reasonable price.

Wristbands firmly secured over wrist, we marched over to the wide entrance that had been divided up into narrow entry lines with metal barriers. The queue was not bad and we were gestured into the waiting arms of stewards for a bar code check and security staff for a thorough frisk and pat down.  Just beyond the entrance, I underwent the final ritual of negotiating a line of police with sniffer dogs.  We had made it and the pre-entry tension started to dissipate.  Others who had evidently had been caught with suspicious substances were ushered away by police.

We carried on walking down a long and wide green expanse with seemingly nothing there except a forlorn looking row of billboards with posters of each the previous Lovebox festival on them. Stopping to admire the last of these, especially the ones I had attended, a couple of nostalgia shots were taken of the three of us and we carried on.  I had expected to see more made of the fact that it was Lovebox’s 10th anniversary but apart from the posters and a large board further in, upon which people had written their signature, there was nothing; a little disappointing I thought.

Still on to the music as that’s why we came.  For a while, as you do with large sites, we wandered around purposeless until deciding to consult the festival timetable I had bought for a whopping 6 quid. This may sound a lot but a 20 something girl who came over also to consult my festival timetable had been ripped outside for £3 by a guy selling fakes. At least mine proved to be reasonably accurate and had a site map.

Ms Dynamite

 

Ms Dynamite performs at Lovebox 2012 - Friday 15th June

Ms Dynamite performs at Lovebox 2012 – Friday 15th June

 

So the first tent we stumbled into almost by accident was at the tail end of Ms Dynamite’s gig. I will do a fuller review when I see her at the Wireless festival in a couple of weeks. I could not really identify all the songs. I gather they were from her new upcoming album.  I did recognise “Wile Out”, a dance track released in 2010 by DJ Zinc, which beautifully demonstrated her mastery of the balance between grime and a Jamaican influenced hip-hop.  It’s a very raw style compared with hip-hop genres in the US but the kids around loved it and so did we.

Rhythms of the City

 

Rhythms of the City with Lovebox revellers, Victoria Park, Friday 15th June 2012

Rhythms of the City with Lovebox revellers, Victoria Park, Friday 15th June 2012

 

Carrying on our tour of the other stages at the festival; there were a number of other DJ’s, some good some average.  The day was very dance orientated.   I know they are very popular but I must admit DJ sets are not really my thing at festival. However, while traversing between one stage and another, by one of the chill-out tents we came across a delightful troupe of drummers called Rhythms of the City, drumming their way around the very muddy site. They specialise in the samba style carnival sound, but also play other styles. Surrounded by a small but enthusiastic crowd they certainly gave it their all.  I believe they were on stage with Friendly Fires at their Brixton gig last Autumn. Their skills made them worth seeing at a gig in their own right.

Rounding a group of tents, we came across a small stage where to my surprise could be heard the distinctive voice of John Anderson , the Gladiators (UK Version)  referee hosting a sort of battle of the artists. As each act came on and off so quickly it was difficult to hear their names but I do recall a cheeky two girl act singing about being excuses of being late at work that amused.

Madeon

 

Madeon turns the dials at Lovebox 2012, Victoria Park, London, Friday 15th June 2012

Madeon turns the dials at Lovebox 2012, Victoria Park, London, Friday 15th June 2012

 

We made our way over to the main stage where a young 18 old guy with the stage name of Madeon proved to be a revelation and one of the acts of the whole 3 days.  Madeon‘s is a DJ cum Music producer whose real name is  Hugo Pierre Leclercq and hails from Nantes, France. He cites artists as diverse on the spectrum as Daft Punk and The Beatles as his main influences and has only been playing live since April 2011. As mentioned earlier I’ve never been a huge fan of DJ style acts. I like to see instruments played. However, Madeon’s distinctive style of modern electro-house mixed with some gentler 80’s style beats was absorbing and won me over for the entire set hour long set. He twisted and turned the knobs and dials on the consoles likes a virtuoso at times giving the aura of a concert pianist or conductor. Particularly memorable was his remixing of Blur’s “Song 2” and The Killer’s “Mr Brightside”.  Also, memorable was also his funky house track “Icarus”.  His rhythmic hand waving, pointing and body movements translated infectiously to the audience that turned into a moving mass.  If this boy is as talented and as well stage crafted at this age, it cannot surely be very long before he will be challenging the likes Norman Cook and David Guetta for a place at the top table. Great things are sure to come.

Madeon conducts the crowd at Lovebox 2012, Victoria Park, London, Friday 15th June 2012

Madeon conducts the crowd at Lovebox 2012, Victoria Park, London, Friday 15th June 2012

 

Following a well-earned evening break for dinner that consists of a Caribbean jerk chicken smothered in enough chilli sauce to blow your head off (Lovebox catering provides ample choice of quality world food) it was back to the main stage with libations of beer and pear cider to see Hot Chip, (no the band not the snack). By this time the rain had started a drizzle again.

Hot Chip

Hot Chip sizzle at Lovebox 2012, Victoria Park, London, Friday 15th June 2012

Hot Chip sizzle at Lovebox 2012, Victoria Park, London, Friday 15th June 2012

 

Hot Chip has matured considerably since I first saw them back in 2006 supporting Goldfrapp at the Brixton Academy. Back then, although their tunes were catchy enough, they resembled a group of boys who got together at the weekend to have fun bashing the synth in one or other’s bedroom.  Having only seen 1 glimpse of them at a festival about 2 or 3 years ago, I can report that these “boys” have matured and turned into men. That goes not only for their physical looks but for their music as well. As far as can be said for electro synth pop, their style carries more gravitas. As frontman Alexis Taylor mentioned, this was the first time they had headlined a festival in the 12 years since they were formed.   I am not sure whether it was the music, the atmosphere, the occasional wafts of weed smoke permeating the air, or just the pear cider I was drinking but I immensely enjoyed the gig  and  didn’t stop dancing for the full 1¾ or so that the set lasted.

“And I Was A Boy from School” juxtaposed Alexis Taylor  pleasant  fragile sounding voice with shades electro-funk  reminiscent in some parts to early 80’s styles and it was to get funkier for “Don’t Deny Your Heart”. The deep electro-bass on “One Life Stand” was impressive and this as well as the lyrics recalled early Depeche Mode. By now the crowd was well up for it and it was case of dancing through most of the gig. “Over and Over” with its extremely catchy electro hooks had everyone in raptures and this blogger in particular exhausted, while “I’m Ready for the Floor” towards the end of the gig provided a jolly sing-along.   The group even had time to squeeze a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”.  By the time, the gig finished the crowd had been danced into submission.  The evidence of this performance is that Hot Chip has come of age and is certainly worth a revisit in the future. A special mention should be made of Sarah Jones, who is also co-incidentally drummer for The New Young Pony Club and Bat for Lashes and whose drumming was first rate, comparable in quality to The Whip’s Fiona Daniel and Metronomy’s Anna Prior.

So much for Day 1, the story of the altogether different vibe of Day 2 is to follow.

Field Day Festival, including Django Django, Afrocubism, Metronomy, SBTRKT, Franz Ferdinand : Victoria Park,  Diamond Jubilee Weekend, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

Franz Ferdinand headline Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

Franz Ferdinand headline Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012

 

Field Day festival is a one day festival aimed mainly  at the younger indie /alternative rock  lover that has been going since 2007.  As well as bands, there are village fete type activities to enjoy. There are also plenty of areas with DJ playing various genres of dance music.

Last time I was there in 2009, I found it to be a small but quality festival with grade A music, organic food from a wide variety of stalls – none of the standard rubbish fodder you get at other festivals and pleasant in terms of limited crowd numbers that gave enough for an atmosphere but were manageable.  In the 3 years since,  the festival has obviously expanded and I wonder whether it has exceeded its original parameters.

Despite this being  my first festival of the summer, I wasn’t in a great mood having had to walk a good half mile from where we entered into Victoria Park to the entrance.  It’s a elongated site and a long walk around the perimeter. On the way to the entrance, we passed a throng of people, maybe numbering in the hundreds, queuing.  Then at the entrance there were further big queues, requiring a 15 minute wait and a heavy frisk down by Security before getting in. Upon arrival, and a little bit of orientation of the site by me and niece, we decided to head for the Village Mentality stage,  to see Django  Django ,one of the band’s marked out on my niece itinerary.  There was a ridiculous number of people in the area around the tent so we were clambering, tripping and pushing our through people. No space on the left hand side, a bit more on the right but we still could not get inside because of the numbers.  Never mind, we plonked ourselves instead by a shady tree and listened from outside while getting the odd glimpse of the band through a 1000 heads and multiple poles and guy ropes.

We get a glimpse of Django Django from outside the Village Mentality tent at the Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, London

We get a glimpse of Django Django from outside the Village Mentality tent at the Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, London

Django Django play a abstract kind of alternative electro. Tracks like “Waveform” conveyed more of a mood than a story, almost a feeling of communing with nature.  The light African style drums rhythms juxtaposed with the mysterious sounding synth chords of “Skies over Cairo” also impressed as did the electro-rootsy blues rhythm of “Firewater”. The type of music may an acquired taste to some but personally I enjoyed it and would enjoyed a whole lot more still if only I could have fully had sight of the band during the show.

Members of Afrocubism take the well deserved audience applause at Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, Victoria Park, London

Members of Afrocubism take the well deserved audience applause at Field Day festival, June 2nd 2012, Victoria Park, London

 

After light refreshment and a rush to answer the call of nature (where standing at the urinal staring out at bloke dressed in penguin costume proved surreal), it was back to business as we finally managed to get in to a tent and get to the front for one of the main acts that we had specially come to see, namely the cubo-malian fusion that is Afrocubism.  This group is one part members of the Bueno Vista social club and one part  leading musicians of Mali, including Kora master Tourmani Diabete . This falls into what is generally categorised as World Music, but seems quite out of place with the orientation of this festival. Nonetheless this group proves to be brilliant. There is a cast of thousands on the stage with assorted instruments including 2 trumpets , 1 rhythm guitar, a bass,  maracas, double bass, conga drums, a West African stringed instrument called the ngoni (which was played with such virtuosity by Bassekou Kouyate,  it left me speechless), the balafon – a kind of West African glockenspiel and what looked like a Tama drum. Completing the line and looking very commanding in the centre of the stage was Eliades Ochoa with his standout Cowboy hat and Cubano tres guitar and vocalist Kassy Mady Diabate, who is music royality in West Africa being not only a musician but an oral historian through his music.  His joy and love of the music was infectious as he did not stop groving and smiling all the time he was on stage. For his part Eliades Ochoa was impressive vocally with  “Al Vaimen di Mi Carreta”  and other tunes like “Mali Cuba” blended perfectly the African and Cuban instruments into a feelgood almost holiday sound. You could just imagine yourself driving under a sunny blue sky in some pretty far flung corner of the globe with smiling happy children rushing out of villages to greet you. All the musicians were top quality including the two trumpeters who performed an excellent solo. With the audience indulging insome laid back dancing , this gig transported you mentally to a happy place.

Metronomy thrill at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June 2012, Victoria Park, London

Metronomy thrill at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June 2012, Victoria Park, London

 

Then, after a quick tour of the World food stands and settling on some kind of tasty Portuguese chicken stew in a quaint plastic dish , it was back to main stage area for a final hurrah to my favourite group of the moment Metronomy.  My niece and I have already seen this group at what was foe us the concert of 2011. So, could they top or at least equal it? Not quite but they came close and put in a cracking performance nonetheless.  I immensely enjoyed myself and bopped along happily to the sounds of “The Bay” , “Corinne” and “Loving Arm” despite being considerably jostled by the usual late arrivals trying to muscle in towards the front and the drunks. The band were enthusiastic and engaging with the audience. A number in the crowd got on the shoulders of other much to the chagrin of stewards who had obviously been overcome with the current zeal of health and safety. Third time I have seen the band in a year and third time they have put on a great show. Is this group capable of a bad live performance? I don’t think so.

SBTRKT in silhouette at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

SBTRKT in silhouette at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

Going into the evening the weather took a turn for the worse; cloud started bubbling over and then a chill in the air. We raced back to the tent to try to get in to see SBTRKT but no dice. The tent was absolutely jammed, leaving us in our familiar position of standing outside, catching glimpses of the group in silhouette and some of the lighting special effects. The music was great though. Much of it was a kind of fusion of dance electronica meets dub step and techno with tracks like “Pharoahs” and “Wildfires”.  Other tracks merged these genres with soul voice like in “Never Never” and “Something Goes Right”.  By the end of the gig it had started to drizzle.

This left just one thing left to do – hang around for 50 minutes, waiting for Franz Ferdinand to come on. To pass the time and to warm up, we attempted and failed to buy a burger after another festival goer showed us how uncooked it was, ergo we settled for German sausage. Somewhat frustratingly, the server seemed incapable of knowing the difference between strong and mild mustard.

Franz Ferdinand play a tub-thumping set at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

Franz Ferdinand play a tub-thumping set at Field Day festival, Saturday 2nd June, 2012, Victoria Park, London

 

It was now chucking it down with rain so we were relieved to have the headliners start. We stood to the back out of the main throng but still had a great view. The crowd to be fair had been a little reduced by the rain. However, our position just in front of the disabled viewing platform proved to be perfect. Franz Ferdinand was absolutely cracking. Grown men danced and jumped about in the rain at the back of the crowd to tub-thumpers like “Do You Want To”, “Take Me Out”. My personal favourite “No You Girls” was delivered by the band with gusto.  There were several new tracks played including one with curious lyrics called “Fresh Strawberries” that harked back to one of the more gentle indie styles of the early 80’s .The barnstorming end  reached its climax fittingly with “Burn this City”.  We sang, we jumped, we danced with umbrellas in the heavily pouring rain. I never had so much fun.

That said although the music was great at the festival and in some cases cutting edge, a lot was wrong. They have increased the capacity in recent years and it shows. It used to be relaxed with space to move and watch the bands in a leisurely fashion – especially earlier in the day. This year, it felt like you were tripping over people and the tents were ridiculously over crowded.  Getting to food stalls and bars occasioned at times, a 20 minute wait and the amount of drunks seems to increase year on year, in spite of stewards removing bottles and cans at the entrance.  The quality of the musical line-up saved the day but all in all I cannot count Field Day as my favourite ever festival.