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Festival season is upon us (you can tell from the flooding), with one of my personal highlights, Lovebox, happening this weekend. However, this is not any old Lovebox. This is the tenth year since Groove Armada began the festival, and they’ve really thought outside of the (Love)box (my only pun, I promise) this year to produce what is possibly their finest line-up ever – so good a line-up, in fact, that naming the five essential acts to see is an almost impossible task, with many fantastic acts (Bobby Womack, Lana Del Rey, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Little Dragon, Friendly Fires) not even making my shortlist. From the dubstep dystopia of Friday to the disco-centric Sunday (who would have thought we’d be seeing Chaka Khan and Chic on the same bill in 2012?), it’s sure to be a fantastic weekend all round. But here are my personal highlights…

Hot Chip (Friday)

Surely the best band that all look like they work in IT, Hot Chip are back from their excellent side-projects (New Build, and the 2 Bears, also playing a gig on the Friday) with their new album, In Our Heads, which manages to be great whilst often being one perm away from Whitney Houston’s ‘How Will I Know’.  Appearing on the first day, they are the crowdpleasers, with songs like ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Ready For The Floor’, as well as new songs like latest single ‘Night and Day’ and ‘Flutes’ setting the tone for the weekend.

Kelis (Saturday)

Consider this pick a personal crusade of mine. In my view, Kelis has been relegated to a sort-of lesser Rihanna, remembered to most solely for bringing all the boys to yard with her milk-based beverages, despite over ten years of making killer tunes (‘Caught Out There’, ‘Young, Fresh & New’, ‘Trick Me’) and a genuinely fantastic album of  future-pop in 2010s Flesh Tone, which plays like Beyoncé being converted into a Cyberman. Her performance looks to be the most fun of the weekend, with recent gigs seeing her performing an inspired mash-up of ‘Milkshake’ and Madonna‘s ‘Holiday’. If nothing else, see her as a precursor to the bonkers majesty of…

Niki & The Dove (Sunday)

After a series of singles over the last two years and last year’s brilliant The Drummer EP, Stockholm band Niki & The Dove are playing this year fresh from the release of their debut album, Instinct, which sounds like what I can only describe as Kate Bush taking ecstasy inside an electronic forest. One for putting on your kaftan to and dancing like a peak-period Stevie Nicks.

Patrick Wolf (Sunday)

Although being happily married has diminished the bitter appeal he held with 2009′s The Bachelor, Patrick Wolf is still a wonderful live act – switching between harp, violin and piano effortlessly (often in the same song), holding an audience rapt with charm, musicianship and pure sex appeal. Like an ethereal David Bowie, his style doesn’t stay still for long, so who knows what to expect for this gig. Whatever he does, though, it’s sure to be well worth a watch, if just as a charming palate cleanser to Sunday’s wonderfully disco-heavy line-up.

Grace Jones (Sunday)

“And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’s GRACE!” Perhaps the only performer who can sing a song like ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ (the best extended metaphor in pop – and I mean extended…) and still able to hula hoop her way through an otherwise totally tame Jubilee Concert, Grace Jones was gaga before it had to be capitalised and is set to astound the Lovebox audience. Even at 64 (yes, really), she has more energy than perhaps the rest of the lineup combined, and with no album to promote looks set to perform a greatest hits set. When she performs ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, I promise you’ll be able to hear me screaming from wherever you are…

Can’t make it to Victoria Park this weekend? Check out my playlist featuring my personal Lovebox highlights at http://sharemyplaylists.com/lovebox-2012-3

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