Live Review: Lovebox

Live Review: Lovebox

Victoria Park, London, 15th-17th July

For it is solely fine weather that doth make the festival fine”, wrote Shakespeare in his most famous, in-no-way-entirely-fabricated play. You know, the one about a superstar lute player backstage at Worthy Farm, smoking opium with some pantry girls and an ancestor of Michael Eavis?

Anyway, it established the fact that rain at festivals totally sucks. Well, guess what? This year’s Lovebox proved his point by being a total washout. While it’s true that there may be some contexts in which a dripping wet Lovebox is a sign of a good job well done, for those stood glumly in the afternoon showers, wondering if [a]Snoop Dogg[/a] has the tenacity to tell the grey clouds to “fuck off, yo’!”, there’s little respite.

The rain does temporarily bolt – but perhaps only because it’s embarrassed that what should be a full, glorious playback of the rapper’s groundbreaking [b]‘Doggystyle’[/b] suddenly becomes Snoop covering [b]‘Jump Around’[/b]. The man’s soon turning 40 – and, in truth, his international gangster shtick has become so codified and slow, he’s become redundant.

Far more vital are [a]The Drums[/a], who are so off-the-scale post-modern these days that apparently everyone has forgotten they exist – and only a handful of people turn up to see the Warhols of indie unveil a proud new line-up and (even prouder) new songs from forthcoming album [b]‘Portamento’[/b] as they headline the second stage on Saturday.

It’s a real shame, as Jonathan Pierce and party are on startling form, with each song exuding rain-busting warmth. New track [b]‘Money’[/b] is gobbled down as eagerly as all their oldies by today’s small but faithful gathering. [a]Santigold[/a] briefly manages to bring out the sunshine after baying for it from the stage – and drags a bevy of mud-splattered punters up with her to dance enthusiastically during [b]‘Creator’[/b].

Meanwhile, rewind to Friday’s Rinse FM blowout, where [a]Skream[/a], [a]Plastician[/a] and P-Money generate the kind of dubstep fission that still feels as potent as the sun: a supernova with plenty more energy to burn. But poor old [b]Beth Ditto[/b], playing on the Sunday, seems to have entered what scientists would call the white dwarf stage of the star cycle (as in, she’s done for).

A good five years after she was last interesting, she returns with a solo electroclash effort that’s ashamed to admit it’s not [a]Lady Gaga[/a]. Razzmatazz is hard to do when everyone’s in rainmacs, sure, but screaming “It’s GAY DAY!” over and over just seems a bit cheap. But what this weekend has ultimately proved is that when there’s thunder in the skies, there can be little thunder in our hearts.

Alex Hoban