Mad moves and electronic goodness in Victoria Park.
The likelihood is, if you were at Lovebox, the revered London weekender founded by Groove Armada, you will have spent the rest of the weekend either trying desperately to clean all the dust of your fresh kicks, or vainly sitting on your bed, flicking through all the videos on your phone, attempting to recreate what was a summer showdown to remember.
Lovebox have been at this game a while now, first kicking off in 2002, but this year there were some exciting new features—one of them being our very own THUMP stage. We were super stoked to have been asked to join the party this year, especially considering our corner was going to be graced with such a slamming line-up. As for the rest of the festival, which took place last weekend, July 17 and 18, it was one of the best places to get lost in house music through the entirety of the United Kingdom.
Our stage started, (as in our opinion all good stages should), with a short but sweet Italo set from our in house THUMP DJs. Once we had spun out a few chintzy bangers straight from a sun-kissed 1980s Milan, we handed over to the ever-affable, up and coming SG Lewis. With his set of arms in the air, blushing house, the shape-throwing crowd began to build and didn't let up for the rest of the day.
From here we were treated to more in the way of blissed-out bangers, perfectly married to growing sunshine that spread across Victoria Park. It was an afternoon of A-Games, with every act bringing their respective good vibes to the THUMP stage. From the more R&B inflected grooves of 99 Souls, to Bontan's chugging soulful rumblings, all the way into Friend Within's bass-led wobbles, the heady sessions and rapturous response were testament to just how much everyone is dancing this summer.
It was at this point we left the dustbowl disco and headed over to investigate the mythical Despacio set up. If you missed our recent chat with Stephen and David Dewaele (2ManyDJs/Soulwax) about the project, Despacio is essentially, to put no finer point on it, the greatest party in the world. A blacked out tent, a solitary mirror ball hanging in the centre, flanked by a soundsystem that is honestly and legitimately dubbed one of the best in the world. On entry we knew we were going to lose track of time, as James Murphy and the Dewaele brothers spun a set so swirling and cosmic, we had trouble standing come the end.
The beautiful thing about Despacio is just how dedicated to celebration the entire thing is. With minimal bursts of lights, and speakers so good even the Grange Hill theme tune pops off, there is no option but to fall into a state of complete deep-disco-submission. Through Harvey's "Blue Love", a gooey rework of Arcade Fire's "Here Comes The Night Time", Escape From New York's "Fire In My Heart", and a devastatingly euphoric dropping of Dennis Parker's "Like An Eagle", it was unadulterated bliss. What's more, given the Lovebox lineup's predominant championing of the best of the brand new, there was something pretty special about mobs of shufflers clicking their heels to opening flicks of "Stayin' Alive".
We couldn't have asked for a better closing run to THUMP stage. From a buoyant Hercules & Love Affair, to an explosive hour from Shadowchild, the evening drew to a close with the groove-heavy house don that is MK. As the ever reliable Catz 'N Dogz boys played out the night, we were left with the sweet taste of a party well spent dancing on our tongues. Well, that and the taste of all the dust you kicked up when you were pulling those mad moves. We saw you.
Lovebox's Friday was, above all, a belting day and night, accompanied by huge tunes and heatwaves. Yet a glance across the lineup also reinforces just how important the DJ has become to the festival scene in 2015. Not just the THUMP stage, but all across the board, names like Blonde, My Nu Leng, Preditah, B Traits, and of course the festival's parents Groove Armada, were sending crowds stratospheric. More than anything the string of belting sets only showcased the rude health of dance music in the UK at the moment, and its ever-growing grasp on the mainstream.