On the 27th and 28th May, Bristol welcomed Love Saves the Day to Eastville Park for its second year at the venue.
The weekend was one of fun-filled music appreciation, and despite all the forecasts, the weather stayed miraculously dry and sunny over both days, boosting the general mood and meaning all of the outside stages could be fully enjoyed. Glittery faces and outlandish outfits in abundance; the festival-come-fairground site was a picture of the eccentricity and craziness which is characteristic of Bristol, and has always made Love Saves so quirky. With a roller disco, Mister Whippy van, ball pits and an inflatable church holding make-believe weddings, the festival has certainly managed to carve its own niche amidst what is now a vast array of inner-city shindigs.
Mid-afternoon on Saturday at the main stage saw Maribou State serenading an engaged audience with a delectably-peaceful live performance. With spine tingling vocals courtesy of Holly Walker, Maribou’s focus on emotive soundscapes meant their set was the perfect serene precursor to the mayhem yet to ensue across the rest of the festival. A particularly lovely moment came when they performed their velvety smooth rendition of ‘Praise You’. Also notable on Saturday afternoon were Ivy Lab, who put on an intense, creative performance at the Arcadia Afterburner stage, to an already hugely excited crowd. It was a great set, however some of the stage’s sound limitations were noticeable here; the speakers at the Afterburner stage were placed with the intention of creating a sphere of sound around the circular stage but this actually meant that as you got closer to the stage itself, sound was lost. Artful Dodger threw down some funky vibes at the Dance Off stage and Roman Flügel spun some emotive, progressive techno for the Just Jack takeover of the Paradiso tent. Another huge highlight of Saturday was Skream, who put on a heavy, thumping tech-house set, cutting to the chase as one of the most on point, face-screwingly enjoyable dance acts of the festival.
Everything Everything were spectacular as Saturday’s demi-headliners at the main stage. Their unique brand of light hearted indie rock sounded especially refreshing against a backdrop of electronic acts, and the quirky tones of Johnathan Higgs’ brilliant live voice along with the group’s characteristically hard-hitting percussion got the crowd dancing and singing from the bottom of their lungs. Classics like ‘MY KZ, UR BF’, ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Distant Past’ were highlights. Later, the hugely talented Ben Klock put on a hard-hitting closing performance at Paradiso, giving the techno-heads and anybody in the mood for a good dance a killer final set. As the sun set, the crowd – at the peak of their collective intoxication – grew relaxed and intimate, and the atmosphere at the Arcadia Afterburner stage (which sounded notably louder) was loving and carefree for the closing performance of Roni Size & Krust’s ‘Full Cycle’ project.
On Sunday, the festival seemed a lot busier. Despite both days selling out, we got the distinct impression that Sunday’s line up, headlined by pop/rap icon Dizzy Rascal, seemed to have drawn in larger crowds than the boutique festival was used to, and perhaps even more than they really had capacity for. At times the site felt overcrowded; the long queues at food stalls meant that getting a quick bite was impossible and could mean missing the entirity of a set, and even finding an empty patch of grass to chill with mates was pretty difficult. There were so many people watching Katy B at the Cloud Nine stage mid-afternoon that despite a charming performance from the artist and her accompanying dancers, it was difficult to get close enough for a good view. Similarly, the ‘Who Cares’ Girls and Boys B2B sets at Arcadia Afterburner, which saw huge pairings (Kahn and Amy Becker, Barely Legal and Dismantle, Flava D and My Nu Leng, Madam X and New York Transit Authority) take to the decks, were consistently very busy. These were all great fun, and despite the sound restrictions on the Arcadia stage in the daytime, all of the duos utilised the setup well and produced quality sets; Monki featured as a surprise special guest alongside Gotsome, which was really exciting, but our personal highlight was My Nu Leng and Flava D’s crazy, garage-influenced jackin’ house performance.
Another of the highlights on Sunday was the Lion Pulse and Hold Tight takeover of the Brouhaha stage, which was themed to look like a colourful wooden shack, hung with bunting and complete with high-heeled manaquin legs sticking out of random windows (debauchery and hedonism encouraged). Lionpulse soundsystem provided what was far and away the most powerful bass to be heard at the festival; perfect for celebrating the deep, dubby vibes of the Hold Tight lineup, which was headlined by General Levy. The weight of Egoless’s set was particularly moving; a notable moment came when he dropped ‘Like a Nuclear Bomb’, one of his own creations released on the ever dubwise ‘Scrub a Dub’ label back in December of last year. Upon hearing this, the clued up audience began to skank in unified satisfaction. As Sunday evening drew in, the likes of Stormzy and Dizzy Rascal took to the main stage, bringing a huge portion of the crowd with them and freeing up space at the smaller stages for a more peaceful and intimate atmosphere. Snakehips gave a satisfying set tinged with instrumental hip-hop and trap-influences at Cloud 9, while a merry group of intoxicated festival gooers cut shapes to some timeless cross-genre classics inside the Dance Off stage’s boxing ring, courtesy of Sip The Juice.
Without much debate, Sunday’s defining set came from Chase and Status. Headlining the Arcadia Afterburner stage, (which had again been turned up considerably towards the end of the day), they served up a generous helping of the timeless classics everybody loves like ‘Eastern Jam’, ‘No Problem’ and ‘Time’, which sent the crowd wild with nostalgia. Dropping tunes from ‘Brand New Machine’, their performance also saw the world exclusive premier of a new track with Craig David. The whole thing was particularly intense coupled with the impressive Arcadia fire show. Fortunately, the organisers had the good foresight to put Dizzy Rascal on the main stage at the same time as Chase and Status, splitting the crowd considerably and even giving the Afterburner audience ample space to dance. It was the perfect way to see off the festival.
One of the things that struck us most about Love Saves this year was that despite it’s growing size, it didn’t appear to have lost its connection to the city it was born out of – independant local buisnesses like Biblos and Chicken Shack were called on to provide the catering, while after parties were hosted at Bristol’s most iconic music venues – Motion and Lakota. A plethora of organistaions which have strong ties to the city (Just Jack, Who Cares, Crack Magazine) were invited to host stages, meaning the line-up reflected Bristol’s unique personality. Since it’s conception in 2012, Love Saves has grown to be one of the biggest and most important events in Bristol’s contemporary music culture, and despite the choice to include some more commercially-succesfull headliners this year, there was still a strong sense that the festival sought to preseve its niche, alternative roots. We hope to see the festival retain this integrity as it continues to grow by making it a priority to book acts in line with it’s original ethos and its loyal attendees, rather than those that are chart-trendy and hot at the time. Photo Source