From big hitters to rising names.
London could use a little love right now, so it’s a small mercy that Lovebox returns to Victoria Park this weekend, bringing with it some of the most soothing and cathartic of R&B A-listers out there. Frank Ocean, Solange and Sampha are among the biggest names on its starry lineup, but there are party vibes to be had among the soul-searching and reflection too: Jamie xx, Chase and Status, Kano, Kaytranada, Annie Mac and Mac Miller will also perform across the two-day event, kicking off on Friday (July 14).
Got tickets? Lucky you. Now all you need to do is decide who to prioritise seeing on an impressive lineup jam-packed with fast-rising up-and-comers to balance out the bigger names. FACT has got your back though, worry not. Here’s our 9 must-see acts. See you down the front, and just maybe at Bethnal Green tube afterwards on Saturday night, looking a little worse for wear.
Lovebox had to pull out the big guns for its 15th anniversary and, big guns don’t come much bigger than the ultra elusive (or should that be “elusiveULTRA”) Ocean. One of only two UK festival performances scheduled for this year, following his triumphant appearance at Manchester’s Parklife, Lovebox will be one of fans’ first chances to experience the elastic R&B chill of last year’s Blond. Having pulled out of certain scheduled dates to perfect his live production, there’ll be nerves among some that he may not show. But don’t panic. To paraphrase the man himself: everybody need you, Frank, and he knows it.
Expectations were high for Solange’s 2016 solo return, but the delectable A Seat At The Table outstripped even the Knowles sister’s biggest fans’ highest hopes. More than an album, it was adopted by many as a self-care guide to navigating a turbulent political climate spanning the rise of Donald Trump, the persistence of police brutality in black communities, and other interconnected modern American concerns. A dose of beauty to balance the brutality, it was a phenomenon that deserved an appropriately show-stopping live production. Luckily, from what clips we’ve seen, Solange has built just that: a colourful spectacle with an elegance befitting songs like the gorgeous ‘Cranes In The Sky’. Bring it on.
Maker of one of our favorite albums of 2017 so far, Londoner Sampha didn’t elevate to superstar level in a hurry, despite early guest spots on tracks for some of the planet’s biggest artists, including Drake and Kanye. Instead, he timed his ascent perfectly with March’s excellent Process, which promises to be even more affecting in a sunny Victoria Park, sung along to by thousands. Don’t expect a dry eye in the metaphorical house when he drops the delicate, melancholy ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’. Blame it on your hayfever medication.
Like a spacier Miguel, this newcomer has already bagged support slots with the likes of D’Angelo and Bilal, which tells you all you need to know about the pedigree of his soft, choral R&B. Based a stone’s throw away in south London, his recent Lucid Soul Dream EP helped him further inch towards breakout success. He’s on early on Friday, so if you simply can’t wait for Frank Ocean, Bakare should scratch that itch and tide you over.
Life is a madness, according to Birmingham MC Mist, and he’s got a point, rising through the rap ranks in an increasingly senseless world. The universe may be a confusing mess right now, but Mist’s rise and increasing profile feels totally logical given his fierce charisma on the mic. Check out his M I S to the T EP, learn the lyrics to his MoStack collab ‘On My Ones’ and we’ll see you down the front for his Saturday set.
GRM Daily’s Caroline Simoniescu-Marin assembled the Avengers of the UK underground UK for this year’s XL Recordings comp album New Gen: Avelino, Kojey Radical, WSTRN, Ray BLK, you name ‘em. Who will appear during New Gen’s slot at Lovebox is as yet unknown, but you can bet it’ll go off whoever’s in tow.
Newly signed to Ninja Tune, Belfast-via-London pair Bicep may be persuaded to showcase some of their eagerly awaited debut album, due in September but primed for a preview in Victoria Park. It’s described as “loose, raw and energetic enough for the dancefloor, yet refined, artfully composed and contemplative enough for home listening.” Expect the emphasis to be on the dancefloor when they tear it up in their Saturday slot.
The start of the acclaimed rapper’s next chapter? Kano’s summer is packed with dates, on what looks like a victory lap for his supreme Made In The Manor album, released last year. Never one to rest on his laurels, you expect the skilled MC has been busy since, and might even tease some new material here. If not, no big deal – with five killer albums and six stunning mixtapes to fall back on, Kano’s not in short supply of bangers.
Nobody does it like Kay. The XL producer feels overdue a primetime spot on a UK festival bill ever since his thrilling 99.9% lit up our summers last May. At Lovebox, he gets it, bringing his beatmaking magnificence to Victoria Park in what will almost certainly be a party to remember. Only question is: with a little black book that spans every one from Craig David to Chance The Rapper, which if any of his famous collaborators will also swing by?