30,000 music lovers descend upon Eastville Park for a weekend of adventure as one of Bristol’s most famous festivals returns for its fourth consecutive year.
It’s hard not to feel excited before a festival. A day of blazing sunshine, great music and excellent company poses few drawbacks, so it’s no wonder thousands of people from Bristol and all over the UK flock to Love Saves The Day every year, and this was no exception.
As the clock moves ever closer to 12pm, streams of people filter into the streets all heading in one direction- the festival’s brand new home Eastville Park. The crowd flows like a lazy river of glitter and Red Stripe towards the muffled thumping bass and giant red tents peering out from above the distant trees.
Creating a festival schedule is easy, but sticking to one is a different story. Whilst swimming our way through waves of people, clinging onto a tall frosty one for much needed replenishment, we were suddenly approached by two brides maids looking to tie the knot with Cone editor,Pete…
One of our first ports of call was to see Felix Dickinson at the Apocalypso stage hosted by ‘Party on the Moon‘. Within this titanic big top tent, a small crowd gathered for predominantly bass heavy, industrial house. It’s dark elements creating a stark contrast to the blazing hot summers day radiating from outside this allegory of a K hole. We really felt that the level of intensity was not reflective of the atmosphere in the festival at that point in the day. Dickinson’s set would have been much better suited to a later slot in the day, or just an alternative track selection.
On to the Just Jack stage, a hidden gem in the festival, not too overpacked but certainly playing some more forward thinking DJ sets. For a fairly small stage it had built up a solid crowd who all seemed to be having a great time. John Barera and Will Martin’s set was well suited to the time; not too heavy, soulful textures, groove orientated and easing the crowd into the early evening.
As is often the case for me, the line up on the main stage was inferior to the smaller stages, however Crazy P certainly delivered a funky crowd pleasing set. The use of a live band on stage was a refreshing change from the CDJs and 1210s. The vibe here was very relaxed, a lot of the crowd were sitting down and chatting whilst enjoying the performance, a contrast to the vigorous two-stepping taking place elsewhere.
The Main Stage, a 40ft tall arch with Love Saves The Day branding along the top towering above a crowd of +5000 and with Julio Bashmore about to perform, we had high expectations. Sadly these were not met. The sound just wasn’t loud enough, possibly due to restrictions put in place by the festival, which was nestled amidst surrounding residential housing (some concerned residents even held a protest). He started on a minimal tip, nothing to write home about, and perhaps lacking some forward thinking track selection. Just 30 minutes into his set, from out of nowhere a precipitous silence fell on the crowd. With Julio scratching his head, he looked around for some assistance. A sound engineer then came on stage to help fix the the needle on the decks. With a growing sense of dread emanating from the stage, there was suddenly a huge sigh of relief as ‘Battle For Middle You’ swiftly brought the proceedings back into motion.
The evening was rounded off with a blinding set from Tale of Us at the Paradiso stage, followed by Craig Richards and Ame over at Apocalypso. Richards really worked the crowd well with his set, definite disco vibes and a seriously impressive light show. Ame closed the festival with the last set of the night, by which point the crowd were all on a similar wavelength and an atmosphere rife with excitement.
The second day began with more of a chilled out feeling than the day before, one can only assume that revellers were still feeling the effects of the previous events. The slightly more underground musical offerings of this bank holiday Sunday resulted in an eclectic mixed crowd; there were the drum and bass heads, the die hard reggae fans, the grime and garage crew and like us, the house & electronic lovers.
The first set we caught was London trio, Dark Sky. Their individual moody sound drawing on elements of garage, house and hip hop was perfect for that Sunday afternoon – atmospheric and tension building.
Later in the big red top known as Paradiso was the turn of Floating Points, a set we will admit we had been especially looking forward to. On our way in we bumped into Four Tet, who would grace the same stage with a two hour extravaganza.
‘I’m here to see Floating Points. He’s a good friend of mine. I’m looking forward to my turn later but it’s good to have a couple of hours to look around. I’m staying in Bristol tonight to play the Marble Factory, which is a new one for me and should be great’. – Four Tet
Floating Points took his place at the decks and we joined the crowd of mostly 20 somethings, who threw some shapes to the Asian and tropical influenced feel good disco house.
We tore ourselves away from Paradiso for a few moments to head next door to the Shambarber stage and the turn of Arkist. His effort was animated by super fabulous, podium dancing drag queens and glittery unicorns who were residents of the stage for the day. They made this dark DJ seem even more surreal. The set was impressive, Arkist is very technical, making difficult transitions between genres like trip hop and house with ease.
There was something letting Arkist down though, and a major downfall of the whole weekend; the volume just wasn’t loud enough, which at some points made it difficult to fully immerse yourself in the beat. Perhaps it is a compromise you have to make to have a festival of this calibre within walking distance from the city centre.
Four Tet, also known as Keiran Hebden, back in Paradiso was the last big hurrah, doing well to harness the crowds when his competition was the likes of Azealia Banks and her attitude filled rap on the main stage and UK grime king Skepta at the outdoor Apocalypto. He provided us with everything we had hoped for and more, with his blend of beautiful, organic sounding melodies and cleverly manipulated samples. Taking us on a journey that consumed us in energy for 2 hours, he ended on lines borrowed from a reggae track that was encapsulating of Love Saves the Day- ‘One love, one heart, one soul, one mind, stand to be free’!