Monday, July 23, 2007

Guilfest 1 Lovebox 0

This weekend we were at Lovebox. A festival hotly tipped to be the trendiest festival outside of Glastonbury. Started up as club nights by Groove Armada, Lovebox grew to become a one day summer outing on the Common. This year, it's a two dayer with an enviable eclectic line up.

We arrived Saturday with great expectations. One of the two 'ummissable' bands on our Saturday agenda was Super Furry Animals who were, for some obscure reason, the first band on the main stage. Quite why they didn't get a later billing was beyond us, but SFA fans, we decided to get out of bed on time to make their 1 o'clock start time.

We get to the festival entrrance at about 12.45. There's a huge queue. Given they were due to open the gates at 10am and acts on other stages started as early as noon, this was not a good sign. We hear contrasting rumours in the queue. Some say it's a security alert, others give Friday's monsoon-like deluge as the reason for the delay (stall holders and stage management being unable to set up under such wet conditions).

I leave R guarding our spot in the queue and wander to the front to find out what's going on. Two different security guards and event officials reassure me that they are about to open (it's now just gone 1 o'clock) and that all the bands have been delayed accordingly so we shouldn't miss anything we came to see.

The gates open, the queue system falls apart, but we benefit from this and get through in reasonably quick time, considering the mass of people the guards are dealing with. Even so, it's about a quarter to two as we make our way through the festival site to find the main stage. As we round the corned I see the lead singer from SFA on the big screen. There's an embarrassingly small crowd in front of them. And they're halfway through The Man Don't Give a Fuck. The song they always play at the end of their gigs.

We're just in time to see Gryff hoist his red bike helmet onto his head and wander off stage. Then the heavens open and it starts to pour with rain. It's a great start to the day.

We then while away five hours waiting until Blondie come on. When they do they seem to be playing a good set but the sound is shit. You can hardly hear Debbie Harry and the rest of the band sound like they are playing underwater.

The place is also full of very young, slightly scuzzy, London kids. All fashion victims to a tee. Girls in micro denim shorts, over black footless tights. Electric blue bomber jackets and pink outsized wayfarers. And those are the ones dressing 'mainstream'. The real trendies are wearing thriftshop dresses, cinched in with sequinned waistbands, worn over cherry or mustard coloured opaque tights with plimsolls. Or a sort of fucked up Kids from Fame look with purple leotard tights, under a micro-shorts playsuit, over the top of a retro kids programme t-shirt. Some were even wearing Saturday Night Fever style glittery headbands. The men are doing the ironic 70s sportswear thing well. There is more than one group of boys who look like their fashion heroes are the 118 men. Others are in the boy band uniform of ohsoskinny black drainpipes, misfitting faux school blazer and a pork pie hat. It's all too weird. Suddenly Guilfest seems like home sweet home among this sea of self-conscious youth.

And as Blondie launch into Tide is High they give themselves away. One of the more skanky teens, dressed in micro denim shorts with a customised white vest and sun visor and big big shades. As Debbie Harry sings the words "The tide is high but I'm holding on", sun visor girl turns to her friend and shrieks "Awwwh! I fort this was by Atomic Kitten!"

The highlight of our festival experience was discovering the lovely Granny's Tea Shop. A small wooden cabin decked out cottage style with tables and chairs surronding it, manned by women and men dressed as grannies. Their point of difference was clear on their chalk sign out the front "Normal-i-Tea". Tea and cake for £2.50.

Given the stall round the corner was doing only a Mint Tea with Honey for the same price, yet Granny's Tea Shop's offer included a big mug of builder's tea with a massive slab of W.I. cake, it was not a bad offer.

Plus the amusement factor from the people manning the stall was second to none. We whiled away our tea break watching one organise Zimmerframe races. Class entertainment...

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