Lovebox Festival boasts a genuinely banging line-up this year, featuring headliners Skepta and Childish Gambino, plus SZA, Wu-Tang Clan, N*E*R*D and a long list of other delicious bands and DJs. But how to get the best out of it all? How to avoid those brutal stage clashes? Allow us to help...
Bunk off work early (go on, you deserve it) to catch Mabel on the Main Stage. Her credentials are impeccable: she’s the daughter of actual Neneh Cherry, teamed up with fellow rising stars Stefflon Don and Raye for irresistible single ‘Cigarette’, and supported Harry Styles ontour.Honestly,even your nan will have heard of her soon.
Don’t go anywhere, because SZA’s genre-melding slow jams are up next. You might know the sultry lilt of ‘The Weekend’, but honestly the whole of last year’s critically acclaimed ‘Ctrl’ album is worthy of your ear-space.
Hop over to Smirnoff House to sip alcopops like you’re 15 again and bop to a DJ set from Manchester club favourite Madam X...
... and then it’s back to the Main Stage for Anderson .Paak. The Californian broke through with the smooth neo-soul stylings of 2016’s ‘Malibu’, but on recent single ‘Bubblin’ it sounds like he’s coming back with real bite.
Leave a little bit early to hot foot it to the Noisey Presents stage for Dave – aka one the UK’s most promising new hip hop stars. Though he’s yet to release an album, he’s already won a Mobo and the patronage of one Aubrey Drake Graham, who remixed his single ‘Wanna Know’.
There’s nothing to fuck with on the Main Stage as legit legends the Wu-Tang Clan take proceedings into the early evening. Yeah, they’ll play ‘C.R.E.A.M.’. Yeah, they’ll play ‘Gravel Pit’. Yeah, they’ll play ‘Shame on a Nigga’. Yeah, it’ll be completely amazing.
Now you're faced with a difficult decision. Over on the Kopparberg Outsider stage, you’ve got Mike Skinner and Murkage Dave bringing their party collab Tonga. But headlining the Noisey Stage is idiosyncratic rapper Vince Staples – masterful author of 2017 stand- out LP ‘Big Fish Theory’. Let’s face it, neither option is likely to bring down the vibe.
There’s no debating where everyone will be at this time, though, as hometown hero Skepta rounds off Day One with a sure-to-be-celebratory headline set. The Mercury Prize-winning, Naomi Campbell-wooing, world-dominating star has basically become the Dumbledore of grime: loved
by everyone who comes into his path and benevolently supporting the next generation with grace and aplomb, it’s almost impossible not to go all
heart eyes in his presence. Gunnersbury Park – prepare to get well and truly shut down.
Treat yourself to a lie-in and a nice lunch, but make sure you’re parked in front of the Main Stage in time for Kali Uchis. After waiting in the wings for ages, this year’s debut ‘Isolation’ – think Blood Orange, but sassier – has seen her step into the spotlight with ease.
Get a mid-afternoon dance in over at the Kopparberg Outsider stage with BBC 1Xtra’s fab Jamz Supernova.
You’ll miss the start, but if you leg it to the Main Stage fast enough you’ll be rewarded with the buzzy sounds of The Internet. No, we don’t mean those ’90s-style dial-up connections. This collective – fronted by former Odd Future star Syd and featuring wunderkind Steve Lacy – is far more forward-thinking. Good luck Googling them, though.
She wants to move, but you won’t, because next up it’s N*E*R*D (see what we did there?). Back together again and with Bona Fide Big Star Pharrell at the helm, only the most curmudgeonly won’t bust moves to ‘Rock Star’, ‘Lapdance’ and more from their tack-sharp catalogue.
Leave a bit early, mind, so you can catch the end of Mura Masa on the Noisey Stage – this Guernsey-born artist is the smart, electronic- influenced antidote to all of N*E*R*D’s big drops and thrusting.
If anyone knows how to whip a crowd into a frenzy of hedonistic good times, it’s Annie Mac – that’s literally her job, after all. Pop back to the Main Stage and see her weave some DJing magic.
And then, whaddya know? You’re in an absolutely prime spot for tonight’s main event: the genre-hopping sounds of twisted genius Childish Gambino. Fresh from starring in ‘Star Wars’ spin-off ‘Solo’ and offering up a new series of his next-level comedy show ‘Atlanta’, ridiculous creative polymath Donald Glover would be super- annoying if he wasn’t so damn good. Tonight, he’ll be rubbing your face in it even more, drawing from 2016’s funk odyssey LP ‘Awaken, My Love!’ and most certainly playing internet-breaking recent single ‘This Is America’ among other slick cuts. And you’ll love it.
Lovebox Festival takes place in Gunnersbury Park. Weekend and Saturday tickets are sold out, but Friday tickets are still available here.