When it comes to discussing music festivals, there’s always a strange sort of juxtaposition: the better the festival is, the more difficult it is to explain exactly why you like it so much.
For instance, it seems futile to respond to, “what makes Glastonbury so good?” with anything other than, “erm, well, you know… it’s Glastonbury.” Similar inarticulacy comes when quizzed on Latitude, Field Day, Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo, Primavera, Farr, Lowlands, UVA – etc, etc. Why are they better than the other ones? You know why, you just can’t find the qualitative output. It’s something bigger than that.
Last week, Lovebox festival celebrated its 15th birthday by inviting the likes of Frank Ocean, Chase and Status, Solange, Jamie xx, Annie Mac, DJ EZ, Kano, Mac Miller, Sampha and Kaytranada (naming just a few) to East London for a two-day get-down; naturally, it was wonderful. Why? Well, the music was grand. The atmosphere was fun. For a bit, the sun shined. Frank Ocean came down. Everyone had a laugh.
But, that robotic t0-and-fro that comes following the seventh time someone has asked you who your ‘favourite act was’ in the space of one single day back at the office doesn’t quite do the whole thing justice. It certainly doesn’t for Lovebox.
Like every great musical festival, Lovebox is gone before you really notice it was there. It’s a self-constructed utopia, that pops up in the middle of London; it doesn’t bring traffic to a standstill, nor does it transform the surrounding area into a hedonistic commune. Nada. In truth, if you weren’t looking for it, you’d barely know it was there – and that’s what makes it so special. It’s a dirty little secret of sorts, that feels entirely detached from the reality; the outside world.
Solange broke out of hospital to be there, Kano brought the house down in a homecoming show, Chase and Status shattered pre-existing conceptions of how big a party can be and Frank Ocean, well, he was Frank Ocean: an artist truly unlike anyone else.
So, why do we love Lovebox so much? Because we were there. You’d understand if you were, too. If not, for your sake, we might tell you that it was cos the lineup was a banger. We certainly wouldn’t be lying, but it wouldn’t quite be the full truth either. Pop in next year, you’ll understand.
Words by Niall Flynn