Arriving fashionably late on Friday due to the build-up of excited festivalgoers at Acton Road (cans of pink gin on the tube aplenty), Gunnersbury Park was a sight for pink lensed sunglasses’d eyes. Lovebox seemed to have attracted London’s most glitter-adorned, ASOS wearing, rollie-smoking crowd again this year.
The stream of people surged immediately to the I-D Main Stage where Slowthai was starting up his set with ‘Polaroid’, one of his more slowly-paced tracks from Nothing Great About Britain (Slowthai’s debut album released earlier this year) to which he strutted boldly in his own brand underwear and socks. The energy continued through his set until Slowthai unleashed ‘Doorman’, an aggressive rip-roar of a track that opened up a pit that could only be rivalled by similar scenes the next day for Brockhampton. If you missed Slowthai here, catch him at Boomtown in a few weeks.
Following up his recent big-stage success at Glasto, Croydon sweetheart Loyle Carner took to the stage in the afternoon to be greeted by a crowd that knew every lyric from his recent release, Not Waving But Drowning; the mood in the air was one of extremely heightened emotion, with some people even crying (cough cough totally not me) as he performed the track ‘Florence’. The smooth jazzy beats of Loyle’s backing music were provided by the limitlessly talented Rebel Kleff, present as always at his best friend’s side.
The only questionable act of the day was the headliner, Solange; her set was remarkably low energy, something that clashed with the excitable atmosphere that had carried through Friday until this point. For those hoping for a calmer end to the day, the smooth RnB sounds of her tracks ‘Stay Flo’ and ‘F.U.B.U’ were as chill as they come (read borderline boring). There was one slightly redeeming moment with the performance of single ‘Cranes in the Sky’, but little else of note.
Saturday brought a whole new host of musical goodness across the park. It was Lizzo that stole the show on Saturday afternoon, compelling the entire crowd to belt out her songs at the I-D Main Stage. The dancers onstage genuinely looked thrilled to be up there, twerking outrageously in synchronicity which set off cries of appreciation every time. And of course, there was an appearance from her famous flute. Prefacing the track ‘Tempo’, a bouncy rap collab with Missy Elliot, Lizzo ensured everyone felt welcome to join in: ‘For this song… you are all big bitches,’ she declared before launching into the slightly sexier single. Lizzo proved herself to be a versatile performer, serving up not only her singalong hit singles with gusto, but also delivering power ballads such as ‘Jerome’ and ‘Cuz I Love You’, which were soulful and heartfelt.
It was genuinely surprising that the act next up wasn’t one of the weekend’s headliners, considering the sheer volume of their followers and fans, many of whom came to Lovebox seemingly for the ‘boy band’ alone. Brockhampton stormed onstage to the sound of one of their newer tracks, ‘NEW ORLEANS’, one of their more ground shaking newer tracks- literally, as the crowd went wild, hands and legs flying. The adaptable nature of their ‘genreless’ music meant a show that never had a dull moment, from the pitched-up singing along to ‘BLEACH’ from all in attendance, to the final showdown of the very last track- ‘BOOGIE’- knocking the wind out of everyone collectively.
Lovebox had absolute scenes from the DJs present, too; On Friday, Green Velvet was a feast for the senses, his heavy-beats house music blasting out from the behemoth that was the Blu Stage; Annie Mac’s turn there the following day drew a more varied crowd due to her recognisable mixes of smash hits, with seemingly no break between banger after banger. The DJ talent of the weekend wasn’t confined to this stage alone- Patrick Topping was greeted by an enormous crowd packing out The Big Top for most of Saturday afternoon, his northern tech-house beats spilling out across the park.
A particular hidden gem was the Smirnoff Waterfall stage area, almost a festival within a festival- revellers grooved to house and disco tunes provided by the likes of Joe Hertz and Becky Tong in this tiny enclosure, a paradisiacal escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the park.
However, without a doubt, the star of the DJ scene at Lovebox was KAYTRANADA whose much-anticipated set on the Noisey stage started slightly after the stated time- this only generated more excitement within the crowd, who were buzzing and reacted to each possible appearance of the star loudly. When he finally appeared, the irresistible beats stirred up some interesting dance moves and singing along, especially to ‘TOGETHER’ featuring smooth vocals from Aluna George. Kaytra rounded off with one of his lesser-known but equally catchy tracks ‘Come Inside’, a collab with Lou Phelps that served as a feel-good dance tune that left many leaving the stage smiling.
As the day came to an end, the second Lovebox headliner took to the stage as the sunset over Gunnersbury Park. It was magical to see Chance the Rapper stood before a sky of purple hues that befit the sounds of his music, particularly with his performance of the yearning ‘Same Drugs’, a story of lost love. A genius moment was the transition from the humorous track ‘No Problem’ into its equal on the banger chart, ‘All Night’, both reflecting the joyous mood of the festival overall, with Chance bouncing across the stage clearly enjoying himself as much as the audience. It was a performance entirely perfect to end Lovebox 2019.
Last but not least, a big shoutout to the true star of the festival, the Yorkshire Burrito. Fucking delicious.
All pictures from Press