Lovebox festival review 2018

London’s most popular weekend of musical festivities returned this year with arguably it’s strongest line up ever, and their new Gunnersbury Park location. After cancelled and delayed trains, as well as a lunatic trespassing on the tracks of Holborn’s undergroud station, it was fair to say that my mates and I could have had a better start to our journey. However, this soon became highly irrelevant when we felt the thumping bass of various djs pumping through our drunken veins.

Lovebox champions a carnival atmosphere and this is what makes it like no other weekend festival. You can guarantee a euphoric crowd of 50,000 people looking to party; as soon as we stepped into our first arena this was instantly apparent. The Kopperburg Outsider was curated by none other than certified legend Mike Skinner; we were lucky enough to catch Sian Anderson, a 1 Extra DJ, getting the party started with her set of ferocious grime bangers and hard trap – setting the scene nicely for Skepta’s inevitable headline slot. Star.One were equally as enticing and mixed a host of underground sounds; from Bassline to grime  and American rap. £6 for a Kopperbug though? Seems a bit steep to me Lovebox.

As the day progressed, the standard of Acts got better and better. Dave’s set felt like a landmark in his undeniably impressive career. At the age of 20, it bewilders me how much he has achieved and he whipped up a frenzy with his blend of hardcore grime beats and mellow afro trap. Crowd favourites were ‘100 Ms’, one of his most enthralling singles, but I loved the response he got for ‘Calling Me Out’, a chilled out choice on his perfect setlist. Failing to see Mike Skinner, because of a cue that stretched the equivalent length of the great wall of China, filled us with momentary annoyance, until we remembered it was only half an hour until Diplo was to grace the main stage. The multi-talented  American artist, best known for being part of Major Lazer and Silk City, caused chaos with his intense blend of Trap and pop bangers. He was the perfect warm up for Skepta, getting the audience more gassed than an exploding petrol station and even causing a girl to dislocate her knee.

As the rain smashed down on 50,000 eagerly waiting Skepta fans, you could feel the anticipation forming in the air. Being one of the most unpredictable artists in the UK, I was interested to see what world Skepta would create for his performance. The set design of giant fans and steel pipes created a scene as if he was about to escape from prison. The weather suited this setting hugely and all hell broke loose once he dropped one of his latest singles ‘Pure Water’, once again fitting the weather perfectly. He stormed through his hour set, playing Konnichiwa classics like ‘Crime Riddim’ and ‘It Ain’t Safe’ whilst bringing out acts like Suspect and Jesse James Solomon for Suspect’s hit single ‘One Way’. The show was a true celebration of the UKs biggest export of music, grime is here to stay and finishing with his recent A$AP Rocky collaboration proved this. ‘Praise The Lord’ has barely been out a month and has clocked up around 80 million Spotify streams; not bad if you ask me.Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 21.30.51

I need to give a special shout out to the fits Skepta was wearing too, there is not a better dressed man in the UK. Apparently Vince Staples and Wu Tang Clan equally stole the show; the American’s helping to ease the pain of us English getting knocked out of the World Cup and seeing Donald Trump over in our Isles.

Overall Lovebox was a huge success, when really It’s change of location could have made it a disaster waiting to happen. I am thoroughly jealous of anyone returning today.

So who won Reading Festival 2016?

This year I was lucky enough to go to Reading, the best music festival I have ever been to. For years Reading has showcased the best hardcore/punk/alternative rock outfits; as well as a host of exciting urban and electronic artists. This year really didn’t disappoint.

Triumphant sets from the likes of Foals and BBK smashed day one, insighting an instant moshing riot; BBK in particular proved they should be way above the likes of CHVRCHES on future bills. Foals’ set undoubtedly felt like their biggest milestone yet and retained their status as one of the best live bands in Britain.

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Tired and hungover, I stumbled into Saturday wondering whether I’d actually be up for seeing anyone but my urge to watch Beach Baby got me down to the arena for a 12:00 am start. Confused by the lack of support I watched the 4 piece from a distance, but their show seemed frustrating due to the little audience and their set being cut short; so fans couldn’t here their lead single ‘Limousine’. Next up was Rejjie Snow, he was unreal. His hip hop energy woke everyone up, with tracks like ‘Snow (my rap song)’ going down a storm. Other noticeable sets came from those cheeky lads from Kent, Slaves, who even did a secret show on the BBC introducing stage, playing tracks from their ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ EP and of course their cover of Skepta’s grime classic ‘Shutdown’. Oh yeah and this band called the Red Hot Chilli Peppers played as well, they were half decent.

For fans of Alternative/Indie music Sunday was by far the best. Spring King kicked it off for me, new single ‘Detroit’ and ‘Rectifier’ were the real crowd pleasers and showed their worthiness of a set on the NME/Radio 1 stage. The Magic Gang packed out the Festival Republic tent, even more so than the firmly established Eagulls who played the most underrated set of the whole weekend. As the day passed RAT BOY played a rammed show in the Radio 1/NME tent where Cardy and co entertained the audience by climbing up the scaffolding and sprawling across the floor with their instruments. Up next was Cage the Elephant and I haven’t seen many better live bands than this one, the guys from Kentucky are fan favourites at the festival and with their new material adding diversity to the set, we were truly spoilt. They should have been higher up the bill. Biffy Clyro rounded off the final day but it was DJ EZ that stunned the festival that night, teenagers scrambled up the scaffolding in the dance tent forcing the gig to momentarily stop for health and safety issues – if you needed the carnage of Reading emphasising any more.

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If you are contemplating on whether to head to the festival next year, don’t! Just buy a ticket, you won’t regret it whatever the line up. Click here for the first wave of tix and you can watch extended highlights here.

15 bands you simply cannot miss this year at Glastonbury

Whether you are watching Glasto on the TV or you were lucky enough to snatch a ticket within the hour in which they sold out, we’re always spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of talent on offer. Here are 15 artists that I believe are definitely worth a watch.

1. Skepta

As the pioneer of the UK grime revival, Skepta has certainly been making a name for himself and his craft over the past couple of years and coming off the back of his latest album ‘Kannichiwa’, there will be a great blend of grime classics and new bangers. Expect Skepta to bring out members of his ‘Boy Better Know’ crew and the sheer energy that they will bring to the stage could insight a riot at Worthy Farm. Jammer, JME and Frisco could all feature and create a moshpit that death metal bands like Anthrax would be afraid to see.

Listen to: ‘That’s not me’, ‘Man’ & ‘I Spy’

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2. PJ Harvey

Mesmerising would be an understatement for Harvey’s latest headline spot at Field Day Festival. This year the artist is on the ‘Other Stage’ at Glastonbury and after stunning Worthy Farm on so many occasions there’s no doubt that she will do it again. Titled ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, hopefully PJ Harvey’s new album will only add to her unmissable live set and with 10 other records, it is hard to believe that her slot will only be just over an hour. Nevertheless it will be incredible and one of the best performances on Sunday.

Listen to: ‘The Wheel’ & ‘Down By The Water’

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3. The Last Shadow Puppets

Miles Kane and Alex Turner are coming to Glasto after the release of their second LP ‘Everything You Have Come To Expect’. With blends of orchestral genius and catchy bass lines, as heard in recent single ‘Bad Habits’,  the feeling of a stadium filled gig will be brought to Worthy Farm. You never know, Turner and Kane could treat us to some Arctic Monkeys covers too.

Listen to: ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ & ‘Bad Habits’

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4. White Denim

The cult following of White Denim seems forever growing and with 6 albums now under their belt, there’s something for any rock fan to enjoy. As one of the heavier bands on the bill, if you’re looking for an antidote to tamer artists such as ‘James’, then this outfit are definitely what you need.

Listen to: ‘Mess Your Hair Up’ & ‘Pretty Green’

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5. Vince Staples

Since the release of ‘Summer ’06’, Staples’ debut album, the Californian rapper has become huge among the alternative hip hop scene. Collaborations with the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and more recently Flume shows just how versatile of a rapper he is and with bass heavy tracks like ‘Blue Suede’, it is no wonder he is fast becoming one of the hottest American urban artists.

Listen to: ‘Norf Norf’ & ‘Blue Suede’

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6. Grimes

It is hard to categorise this singer/producer’s music under one genre but her innovative take on art pop is definitely worth catching. If Grimes’ KEXP set is not enough to intrigue you then I don’t know what is, at Glastonbury she will be performing with more of a stage presence of course but her show on KEXP just emphasises how far she has come in the space of 4 years.

Listen to: ‘Flesh Without Blood’ & ‘Oblivion’

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7. Hinds

Hailing from Madrid, Hinds are an indie/garage rock band that have burst onto the alternative scene over the past year. The 4 ladies played the John Peel stage last year and it’s no wonder they have been booked again, they are certainly ones to watch this year following the release of their debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’.

Listen to: ‘Bamboo’ & ‘Chili Town’

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8. Mac Demarco 

Signed to ‘Captured Tracks’, Demarco has released 4 records and hasn’t looked back. His meteoric rise continues with fans across the globe worshiping his twangy, dreamy indie rock. Forget Drake, Mac Demarco is the best artist to come out of Canada in recent years, his quirkiness and natural humour make his songs like no others, he is one of the only guys that you can safely say has a unique sound to his art at the moment, if you’re going to Glastonbury you really would be stupid to miss him. He may even lay down an ‘Enter Sandman’ or ‘It’s Gonna Be Lonely’ cover.

Listen to: ‘Ode To Viceroy’ & ‘Passing Out Pieces’

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9. Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan is a multi-instrumentalist and song writer. With Mercury nominations and 3 studio albums, she now has a catalogue of songs to dive into and on stage, she has a real presence. If you want a more chilled out approach to Glasto then nothing could be better than Khan and her shrilling vocals – her talent is undeniable.

Listen to: ‘Laura’ and ‘Daniel’

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10. Rat Boy

There’s a lot of hype around Jordan Cardy and his bandmates, with influences from hip hop collectives like Wu Tang Clan and rock stars like Beck, it is always intriguing to see what his set has to offer. An album is expected later this year so new material could be on the horizon, his gigs are unbelievably rowdy and if he can bring that atmosphere to Worthy Farm then literally anything could happen.

Listen to: ‘Left 4 Dead’ & ‘Sportswear’

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11. Mura Masa

Listed for the BBC ‘Sound Of 2016’ award, it is only a matter of time before the producer from Guernsey will be touring like mad. His set could be dark and devilish or mesmerising, Alex Crossan’s music goes all kinds of places, ‘ Soundtrack To A Death’ is an unbelievable mix tape and switches from beautiful beats to sinister hooks constantly. He is one of the best English electronic artists out there at the moment.

Listen to: ‘Bae’ & ‘Lotus Eater’

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12. Stormzy

The Croydon born grime mc had the biggest UK rap song of the year in 2015, ‘Shut Up’ was originally a freestyle in a park but it blew up so much that Stormzy released it as a single where it peaked at number 8 in the singles charts. At the age of 22, it is hard to believe that the rapper has already won 2 MOBO Awards and come 3rd in BBC’s sound of 2015. The energy and passion that ‘Wicked Skengman’, one of his many nicknames, will bring to Worthy Farm will be incredible and definitely worth a watch.

Listen to: ‘Know Me From’ & ‘Not That Deep’

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13. Foals

The rock outfit from Oxford are probably the most exciting English band you could come across at the moment, and their live set is no exception. Many would tip Foals as future Glasto headliners and if they carry on with music as good as their last album then no one will be able to stop them from topping the bill in years to come. ‘What Went Down’ was easily one of the best albums of 2015, the mix of raging guitar riffs and the occasional blissful synth is a real insight to just how far Foals have come since debut LP ‘Antidotes’ and how far they could potentially go. Expect a lot of moshing, screaming and crowd surfing, from lead singer Yannis Philippakis.

Listen to: ‘What Went Down’ & ‘Inhaler’

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14. 2 Door Cinema Club

This will be the Irish band’s first major UK festival appearance for sometime now. They last played Glastonbury 3 years ago but they’re back and should be well up for this one. A new album is in the midst and a new single was released last week so fresh material will surely be debuted at Worth Farm. Singles like ‘What You Know’ should summon madness at Glasto and warm everyone up for the rest of Friday.

Listen to: ‘Something Good Can Work’ & ‘Undercover Martyn’

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15. ZZ Top

Incredible beards, blacked out sunglasses, cowboy hats and leather jackets; the Texas rock band have it all. Playing what is now known as the Motorhead slot, Dusty Hill and co will be sure to put on a set like no other this year at Glastonbury. They are probably past it but so what? To hear hits like ‘La Grange’ live is a prospect like no other, the Texan trio’s  music is just as impressive as their facial hair, expect ZZ Top to be the set that everyone talks about after Friday.

Listen to: ‘Tush’ & ‘Gimme All Your Lovin”

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4 reasons why Glastonbury shouldn’t have booked Coldplay

It was revealed yesterday that Coldplay, the kings of gold standard average music, are set to headline the Sunday slot at Worthy Farm. I think this is a lazy and predictable decision for the following reasons.

1) Coldplay have headlined the festival 3 times already.

For a start the band have headlined the festival on an average of every 4-5 years since 2002. Of course this isn’t Coldplay’s fault as the Eavis family are the ones booking the band but this surely shows a lack of imagination and thought going into arguably the World’s biggest festival, at this moment in time. Glastonbury is meant to showcase a variety of musical talent and by resorting to Coldplay as the first announced headliners they have truly contradicted the image of their festival. Who actually sat down and said that it would be a great idea to have Coldplay coming to Glastonbury for a seventh time and the fourth time as a headliner?

2) Coldplay are playing 4 Wembley Stadium dates this summer.

Coldplay have a massive summer ahead of them. With a huge tour that covers three major continents, their true fans from the U.K could catch them at one of their seven major stadium dates. So why did Emily and Michael Evis feel the need to book them when they will be performing to 532,000 fans this summer in England and Scotland alone? It will just be the same set over and over again and yes they may have a couple of guest appearances but who from? Beyonce and Rihanna? Haven’t we seen enough of this celebrity culture forced upon us music fans?

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3) WE NEED NEW HEADLINERS

Coldplay headlining Glastonbury annoys me as there are so many spectacular bands that would equally step up and perform a spine tingling, hair raising and headline worthy performance. Look at Massive Attack for example, a long with Portishead, they were the pioneers of the Bristol Trip-Hop scene and have just released a stunning ep featuring the likes of Tricky, Young Fathers and Roots Manuva. With many other great albums under their belt it is about time that Glasto were brave enough to give bands like Massive Attack the chance to make a name for themselves on the highest of international platforms. How is modern music going to evolve if festivals don’t give a variety of bands the chance to headline? Franz Ferdinand are another great example of an outfit that could create a brilliant performance, especially as they are just as big as the likes of Kasabian and would undoubtedly give a better performance than Chris Martin and co.

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4) Coldplay are nothing but mediocre

If I could compare the booking of Coldplay to anything then it would be like going to a service station with your family wanting a McDonalds but getting a cold sandwich from WH Smiths. Or alternatively going to get some biscuits from the cupboard and seeing digestives instead of custard creams, it’s nothing but a disappointment. Coldplay’s target audience are 30-40 year olds who want to stay current and act like they have musical interests when really they have none at all. People say that your music taste represents your personality and this is worrying considering how many people seem to say they like Coldplay. They will perform a set that critics will say they love but have seen time and time again over the past 14 years, they’ll be nothing special but offer a near satisfactory set that viewers will fall asleep to after 15 minutes and wake up for ‘Paradise’ as an encore.

It’s a shame that Coldplay are the first booking for this year’s Glastonbury but it seems to have satisfied some festival goers; we are just going to have to hope for a better Friday and Saturday night booking. Maybe the Eavis family need to go back to their roots and think about why they started this festival in the first place?