The New York Dolls, Gary Numan, Noah and the Whale, The Box Rebellion, Bombay Bicycle Club
Ed Williams 18/07/2009
After fulfilling the arduous task of locating Victoria Park, we found ourselves at the gates of LoveBox festival, a place straight away seemingly fulfilling the eclectic music paradise that was promised, confined within some of the high-rise flats of East London. Entry to the festival was surprisingly simple contrasting with past events on a similar scale. Looking out on to the festival area it was a world away from the surrounding busy suburbs. Ahead, all was awash with vibrancy and colour - and there was a pleasant, uplifting atmosphere about the place from the outset. My intentions were to catch New York Dolls at some point, and wishes were granted almost immediately with a surprisingly early set at 14:00 infront of roughly 200 people, which I found shocking considering their pedigree and influence throughout their reign. Needless to say the Doll's set was a hugely professional one nevertheless. On the main stage, with a set list comprising classic songs that the band rattled through with great confidence and swagger, all members competed with holding front man David Johansen's reigns of the ride. All in all, the band's rock and roll cool was very much appreciated throughout where their banter with the audience only cemented their heroic status as underground veterans.
After a stint in the VIP area with it's hospitable beer tents and burlesque oddities complementing the traditional picnic seating area, we made our way to the Gaymers Cider stage to see Bombay Bicycle club. Their awkward, edgy sound with jangly guitars was impressive and, coupled with the wailing voice of Jack Steadman, made for an unexpectedly pleasing show. Musically it has perhaps been heard before, but there was a distinct feeling that this outfit could stand out from similar aspiring sounds through the vocalist's influence alone.
The most certain highlight of the day came in the form of Gary Numan, perhaps predictably considering my love for Nine Inch Nails and knowledge that this artist was one of the major catalysts for Trent Reznor's work. Numan and band didn't disappoint with a set on the main stage that contrasted heavily with just about everything the festival had to offer, which of course is part of the beauty of LoveBox. Numan and his band stood prominent and slick going about their pop actions industriously in a metallic blur of emotion and controlled noise. The sounds produced evoked the sort of music that would underline the future of rock, despite covering songs from Numan's wide ranging back catalogue. Like The NYDs before them, Gary Numan's showman skills were strongly demonstrated throughout with a show very similar, visually and aurally, to Nine Inch Nails.
We headed over to catch Lightspeed Champion but unfortunately they had pulled out, which was apparently the same story as last year. Disappointed but determined to watch even better acts, we stumbled upon The Boxer Rebellion which was a nice surprise at the Gaymers Stage; they possessed songs similar to Explosions in the Sky but with indie style vocals. Catching a few minutes of the sombre Noah and The Whale, and singing along to Five Years' Time made up for quite a lacklustre performance, yet seemed quite a popular act. Leaving the festival was a difficult task, as we were itching for more Lovebox delights and atmospheric strolls from stage to stage. Overall the festival was fantastic and inspiring, and definitely one of London's hidden gems.
Loads of lovely photos of the event over at Hollie Cookson's website