Review: Lovebox 2012

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 21 June 2012 13:30 1 comments
Moustaches not optional
So you may know that I lost my UK festival virginity last year with Brighton's Shakedown - which, looking back, knowing that it only lasted one day, mostly poured with rain and ended quite promptly, I now see as a warm up to my festival of choice this summer: Lovebox. 

The event

Lovebox is a three day festival in London, set in Victoria Park (close to Mile End station in East London). I'd always noticed the posters before and always been impressed with the lineup - so this year I finally decided to go. 

The best bit about it is that there's no camping involved - a thirty minute tube journey there and back each day meant I could have a decent sleep in my own bed, a much-needed shower, and pack a more sensible bag with each new day (it took me until day three to learn to charge my phone and bring tissues). 

The event is really well organised. I got my all-important wristband in the post about a week before, headed there after work on Friday and went straight in, save for a quick bag check. It's a huge place, and it was busy (especially on Saturday, the bigger day of the three) but there were enough toilets, staff and stages to make it an enjoyable experience. 

The food is impressive - Mexican, vegetarian, burgers, fish and chips, pie and mash and plenty more were on offer as well as bars selling not-too-overpriced drinks (£4.50 for a glass of wine - that's London for you) which didn't get too crowded. 

The music 

Obviously, the lineup was the highlight. During my two and a half days, I saw: Stooshe, Maverick Sabre, Emeli Sande, Chaka Kan, Rita Ora, Friendly Fires, Sam Sparro, Hot Chip, Crystal Castles, The Rapture, a load of DJs I don't know and the brilliant, show-stoppingly awesome Groove Armada - who returned for their tenth birthday and absolutely made my Saturday. 

There was also a brilliant little tent by the main food area which played some irresistible dance music (yes, like that Peter Kay sketch where you dance as you walk, like an absolute moron); we also paid £2 to go into a 'hotel' disco which was very small and crowded, full of half naked and mostly gay men and had a stage that was home to a lot of drag queens who put on a great show. 

Rain or shine

Of course, the make or break moment for a festival is when the heavens open and all mud breaks loose. The weatherman told us we were going to drown in a month's worth of rainfall in one weekend, but what actually happened was there was one shower on Saturday night which didn't touch us since we were so close to the stage, and instead I wound up with two sunburned shoulders. 

My low expectations meant that having two dry days was like having Christmas twice - I was so happy that we could just get on and enjoy it without feeling soggy, I did that stupidly British thing of commenting on it way too many times each day, then 'touching wood' to be sure I didn't jinx it. Mock me all you like, but it worked...

The Friday night was fun, Saturday was hectic but the most memorable of the weekend, and Sunday was wonderfully chilled out. It's so easy to get to the front of the crowds without feeling claustrophobic (I panic otherwise) and I caught up on new music, heard bands I'd never have known about and danced the night away until Sunday when my legs finally gave in post-Chaka Kan. I can't wait to go back again next year!

My top ten tips for surviving Lovebox (or any) festival:

  • Take tissues and hand gel. Expect the worst in the toilets!
  • Use the gents for shorter queues on all days except Sunday which was very gay-friendly
  • Don't trust the weatherman. Check in the morning each day 
  • Wear a good pair of boots (wellies weren't needed given lack of rain) that you don't care too much about - and don't wear stilettos for goodness' sake. We witnessed this!
  • Take something waterproof/warm for when the weather misbehaves
  • Be sneaky. I squeezed a mini bottle of wine into the inside of my umbrella and smuggled it in!
  • Wear sunscreen (see shoulder comment). You're outside all day - that's all the reason you need
  • Take cash with you - the cashpoints charge and Mile End doesn't have many between the station and the park
  • Be prepared to see a lot of festival 'mean girls' - you know, the ones who think they know 'festival chic' but actually look like they stepped out of a Miss Selfridge catalogue. With a spray tan on the way. Don't worry, you and your poncho look cooler
  • Dry shampoo is your best friend - as are these festival beauty essentials, and yes that is a shameless plug for my own work. You're welcome!
Did you go? What did you think of it?

Goodbye Desperate Housewives - you were never boring

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 20 June 2012 22:56 0 comments
(Yes, this contains spoilers. Please don't read if you're yet to see it.)
I've finally watched the last ever episode of Desperate Housewives. And I really, really didn't want to have to say this, but - I'm disappointed. 

With the ending and the way it was put together, I assume they're trying to say it's come full circle - Lynette and Tom back together with her as a successful businesswoman; Susan and Julie back to being single mum and single daughter (plus gorgeous MJ); Bree happily married; Gaby and Carlos still arguing but happy in their own way too. And of course, the final scene and the return of Mary Alice suggesting that plenty more antics will happen with the new generation of neighbours.

That's all fine - but the whole thing felt completely rushed. We went from seeing Gaby go off to work in a huff to her being at Renee's before the wedding, with no explanation. Plus, where was Lynette? As best friend to Renee, surely she would be in the car? 

The wedding itself wasn't even shown (gutted - I love Renee), and the reception was only worth a watch for the speech from Lynette and the tango talk from Carlos - a wedding is an opportunity for so much drama and it just wasn't there. 

Loose ends were left - really, would Lynette and Tom move their daughter all the way to NYC? It didn't look like she was with them. And does Porter not want to see his child anymore? 

Then there was Karen's story. As someone who has been there since the very beginning and involved in all of the characters' lives somehow, I thought Mrs McCluskey's ending was nowhere near good enough. She was full of great one-liners and was a big part of Wysteria Lane, so needed more than just a silent goodbye in a montage of nonsense. I expected to see a few memories (she and Edie were a fantastic pair), a final speech to the girls to stop being so ridiculous and a proper goodbye. It's even sadder that the actress recently died in real life; a talented woman who should have had a far better send off as her alter ego.

There were some nice touches - the ghosts were creepy, but a handy reminder of all that's gone on and allowed us to see some of our favourite characters. I didn't enjoy having Katherine back on the lane or what they had done with her character - seriously, I thought the leading ladies had learned more this season than they have before and wouldn't be so envious of all her money that quickly. I just wish they'd finished with an hour-long episode that gave us a good insight into how far they've all come, and what happens next - without fast forwarding 40 years to see granny Lynette in a park with the kids.

Aside from the disappointments, I am really going to miss my weekly fix of Desperate Housewives. It's been a brilliant drama, with incredibly insane storylines that no other show would ever get away with, but somehow it just worked. Stylish, sleek and with plenty of dark moments, TV won't be the same.

What did you think of the final installment? 
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