Lovebox 2012 (Saturday): London – live review

Lovebox 2012 (Saturday)
London E9, Victoria Park
16th June 2012

And so to the second day of Lovebox, a day on which our reporter, Kevin Robinson, explored some of the artists appearing away from the main stage.

Today’s theme is ”˜Music Safari’, a phrase appropriate for the vast array of DJ’s and performers once you explore beyond the main stage. In the Downlow, flamboyant creatures of the night resurrect New York’s clubbing golden age and ethos in a life-size ruin of an NYC tenement. On the Stockade Stage, Crosstown Rebels present ”˜A Rebel Rave’ with Damien Lazarus and Maceo Plex. Taking over the tent tomorrow are GutterSlut, renowned for drawing in a dressed-up crowd of party-loving boys, girls, trannies, club kids and older nightlife faces who are bored to tears by a tired and formulaic mainstream gay scene. There’s Horse Meat Disco from Vauxhall who regularly upstage everyone by playing out unashamedly camp Hi-NRG, rare disco, ”˜80s boogie and electro everywhere from Glastonbury to San Francisco’s Pride. Dan Beaumont’s basement bar Dalston Superstore has some of London’s most inspiring DJ’s playing out all day long, and This Is Circus, “a technicolour house music fiesta and visual extravaganza like no other, brought to you by Jodie Harsh and London’s most colourful underground characters” will take over the Stockade, with a headline set from Felix Da Housecat. Meanwhile, in the Big Top today, hugely respected Drum & Bass imprint Hospitality are hosting bass heavy music from High Contrast, Netsky and London Elektricity, amongst others. It remains rammed until curfew.

The second outdoor stage is visited by the formidable rapper and fantastically named Dot Rotten. His between-song banter rarely surpasses “Are you ready for the next one?” but his razor-sharp vocal delivery on the Robert Miles sampling ”˜Overload’ whips the mid-afternoon onlookers into a merry throng.

Rita Ora arrives onstage with a backpack. Precisely which essentials she may find it necessary to whip out at any given moment whilst performing isn’t exactly made clear. Despite once auditioning for Eurovision, the Sylvia Young graduate appears to have conveniently bypassed the toilet gig circuit, has been signed by Jay-Z, recently played football stadiums in support of Coldplay, and has emerged before us as a fully formed pop star, eager to be clasped to the nation’s easily pleased bosom. She’s had a hit single entitled ”˜Hot Right Now’ and an even bigger one with Tinie Tempah. She implores us to chant along with her new single called ”˜Party and Bullshit’ and we helpfully oblige. Oh, and at one stage her left tit fell out. Not that we were watching.

Thirty minutes after her allotted stage time, and Kelis is in the process of pulling off a convincing impersonation of Axl Rose, i.e. she’s nowhere to be seen. When she finally decides to greet us, she takes to the drums for a run-through of ”˜Bounce’ before belting out some of the best pop anthems of the last three decades. Not many of them, it must be said, are actually her own though. Accompanied by a DJ placed centre-stage, there are blasts of ‘Planet Rock’ and ‘Groove Is In The Heart’. Then, as ”˜Milkshake’ morphs into Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ and then Cyndi Lauper’s ”˜Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, it all starts getting a bit Kelis On 45, as if she’s simply singing over a 2manydj’s mini-mix. Dropping the guitar riff from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ seemed like a cheap crowd-pleaser ten years ago, but it seems hugely unnecessary now from a lady with an impressive back catalogue of hits of her own. As she closes with a version (understandably neither the first, nor the last to be aired this weekend) of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, you get that nagging feeling you’ve been cheated.

It feels worryingly like there’s a storm brewing over East London as Friendly Fires hit the main stage. Their tropical flavoured finale of ”˜Kiss Of Life’ battles gallantly against strong gusts of wind and a chilly night time drizzle descending from the filthiest clouds. The mud and dust in our eyes mean we’re a long way from the sun-drenched carnival that Friendly Fires are so eager to transport us to, but we can pretend can’t we?

All pictures copyright Daniel O’Connor

 All words and images by Kevin Robinson. More articles by Kevin can be found here. You can follow him on Twitter.

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