Love Saves the Day returned to Bristol for its fifth edition, taking over Eastville Park in the north of the city for a second year. Regular stages such as Cloud 9, Paradiso, Brouhaha and Shambarbers were joined by the Arcadia Afterburner as dub, house, drum & bass, techno, disco, reggae and garage were heard over Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May 29th. Mike Barnard and Ann McManus recount their weekend.
Festivals are always better in the sun.
He Said: “Unsure of whether predictions of late afternoon rain would prove accurate or not (basically a BBC website vs iPhone weather app battle), we pulled up at Eastville Park with brightly-coloured rain jackets hoping we’d never need them. The early afternoon sun proving a hit with the early arrivals on site, and looking around the organisers were certainly banking on a sunny day to fuel the fun. Like the Castle Park additions of Love Saves the Day, there was only a single tented stage, making alfresco dancing the norm across the site - and also enabling more of the festival budget to go on construction elaborate stage designs rather than erecting the commonplace festival tents that can suck the life out of day festivals with their gloomy, cavernous spaces often uninviting until the sun is setting. The gamble is always if it rains outdoor stages aren’t very popular so perhaps it was an overtly risky strategy from the Love Saves team.
“As I got acquainted with my first visit to Love Saves the Day at Eastville Park, there was already a sizeable crowd amassing at Cloud 9, the second biggest stage, for Discples, while the ever-rowdy Dance-Off with its dancefloor boxing ring and an elaborate Shambarbers stage were also getting going. The Paradiso tent was pumping out tunes from Joy Orbison as we made our way to the main stage corner of the site, passing Sam Supplier on deck duty at the smouldering Arcadia Afterburner ready to notch up the light and fire show as the day progressed. Our first port of call was to catch the closing of vocalist MNEK’s set on the main stage where many of the revellers young and old were sprawlled out on the ground soaking up the unexpected sun while he bigged up Bristol and fittingly covered Gorgon City’s “Ready for Your Love” to the delight of those watching.
“As we set off to complete our site tour we were distracted first by the sight of a group of snazzily-patterned lyrca jumpsuit wearers using feather-dusters to tickle a bunch of festival-goers, then by a guy named Ross wearing a pink baseball cap with the word ‘techno’ on the front taking pictures with his camera and wearing a matching jumpsuit to the ticklers. On speaking to him, we learned about the Brystal Maze - a group-challenge-themed pub crawl in Bristol - that had set up five wacky challenges across the site with those skilful enough to complete them all invited to the inflatable church for secret sets from festival acts including Maribou State once its wedding duties were out of the way (yes, that’s right, you could even get married at Loves Saves the Day). Throughout the weekend we often saw the Brystal Maze crew testing all-comers, and adding an amusing sub plot to the main stage music.
“We left Ross to focus on the music and wandered over to my favourite stage the Brouhaha, set up to look like a shanty town with an array of brightly-coloured pairs of trainers hanging from power lines over the intimate dancefloor space and hammocks hanging on a podium for those in need of a mid-festival snooze. Rush Hour affiliate Young Marco was behind the decks with an electric selection of vibrant house as we passed the Futureboogie-curated stage, while over in the one tented arena, Paradiso, Joy Orbison was on duty for Just Jack. It seemed wrong to be in the shade when the sun was still shining and for who-knew-how-long, so we headed back to the main stage to see Maribou State. The duo of Chris Davids and Liam Ivory make lush electronica that translates well to a live setting, and the set closing cover of “Praise You” was a joy that will surely become one of their festival favourites this summer.
“With one eye on the 90% chance of rain warned by our iPhones, we headed to the Paradiso tent to see the live acid chaos monkeys that are Paranoid London. While Gerardo Delgado, Quinn Whalley twist and turned their squelchy synths and 4x4 beats, their compère played havoc as he delivered distorted a mix of orders and vocals at the side of the stage. First he bashed a hole in the stage decor so he could peer across the crowd with an unobstructed view, as the crowd became more and more lost in the music, he started beckoning to be joined on stage and even got some guest vocalists in the process. Always a manic trio, their set would be a springboard for the evening session.
“With no sign of rainclouds we headed over to catch Rush Hour boss Antal on a genre-bending journey back at the Brouhaha before arriving a return journey to Paradiso for the end of Roman Flugel’s set and a pounding techno assault from Ben Klock who dropped a remix of DJ Deeon’s “Freak Like Me” mid-set to a raputuous response. We took a break from the 4x4 to get a taste of Motor City Drum Ensemble’s headline disco set for Futureboogie that was tinged with acid as it wrapped up as well as Hot Chip’s main stage finale, but were drawn back to Klock for a strong finish where Brystal Maze Ross had lost his techno hat, but definitely found his techno for the day.
“While a lot of Saturday was spent appreciating the sun in case it came to an abrupt end, Sunday was drenched in a golden glow all day, and revellers didn’t hold back in showing off the flesh as temperatures hit the mid twenties. Kicking off our day was an early DJ set from DJ Ease representing Nightmares on Wax in the main stage. The Warp Recrods regulars are famed for their dub-stylings, and produced a low slung set matching the weather perfectly. David Rodigan’s reggae and roots flavours followed, then we headed over to Paradiso hosted by Crack Magazine to see Awesome Tapes from Africa juggle cassettes as Brian Shimkovitz gave us a unique insight into how mixing can still be done using a tape deck, and also the vibrant sounds coming out of Africa. We were introduced to a kaleidoscope of upbeat sounds such as benga, tsonga disco, soukous, rhumba and ethio-soul putting a smile on our faces, but we feared for how long it might take to rewind all those selections when his set was done.
“Having neglected the Arcadia on the Saturday, we were determined to make the most of its debut appearance at the festival today and were treated to sets full of bass-fuelled energy. The afternoon was a Who??Cares takeover with boys going back to back with girls. Gotsome teamed up with Monki, then Dismantle when toe-to-toe with Barely Legal as dubstep, drum and bass and grime intertwined while the Afterburner warmed up, but the highlight of the takeover was My Nu Leny and Flava D who dropped the two-step, garage and UK funky including 187 Lockdown’s “Gunman” and Groove Armada’s “Superstylin” to attract the festival crowds around the DJ booth and teased arms up into the air. Throughout the afternoon we also go the chance to swing by the Bump roller disco where the skaters ranged from highly skilled down to calamtously funny, feel the vibrations of the Aba Shant-I soundsystem at Teachings In Dub stage and see dub legend Mad Professor at Brouhaha hosted by Lionpulse and Hold Tight, loving the good time sounds all the way.
“We were less impressed by the main stage appearance by Chinese Man whose eclectic genre-hopping never really got the crowd engaged while Shy FX’s Party on the Moon at Cloud 9 was a little too quiet to get the masses assmbled dancing despite dropping crowd-pleasers “Addicted to Bass” and “Gold Dust”. Happily we made the decision to return to the Afterburner for Goldie’s progressive drum and bass set celebrating 20 years of Timesless and then a banger-laden set from Redlight which included Hardrive’s “Deep Inside” and Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman” to round off our day. Festivals are always better in the sun, and bass day at Love Saves had provided the perfect soundtrack.”
Bristol goes hard!
She Said: “The Bristol crowd were very enthusiastic from the start. Eastville Park was mobbed when we arrived at 3pm, greeted by an abundance of lycra all-in-one rave suits, LOADS of glitter and a site decorated with kitsch décor of all sorts. Mnek was playing a “lovely set” that the families with picnics were lapping up, joining in with Mnek’s dreamy vocals that have lent themselves to Duke Dumont’s hits. This breezy aura continued courtesy of Maribou State. With the sun beating down, the music lent itself perfectly to lying back and loading up on vitamin D. Closing my eyes and imagining this being the perfect beach side music, I was a little sorry that the surrounding tangerined Brits eating chips and drinking out of cans while flaunting side boob and ill fitting knickers sized shorts detracted from the ambience slightly.
“The Brouhaha stage hosted by Futureboogie was fantastically decorated like a funky favela, with washing lines dangling shoes and sexy stiletto heeled legs sticking out of windows and doors all over the place. Here, one could rely on a constant supply of disco and reggae all weekend – and the ear-to-ear smiles and ridiculous moves that can’t be helped when things get groovy. Young Marco was getting a lot of love with a funky disco set that worked a treat for a late afternoon boogie. Antal followed later, dropping some smooth grooves and moving the mood a bit darker with a harder hitting sound.
“Favourite sets of Saturday went hands down to Paranoid London and Ben Klock in Just Jack’s Paradiso tent. Paranoid London swooped between disco and techno, fusing them and then going a bit minimal, keeping the crowd on their toes. They were accompanied by an extremely entertaining vocalist who took over the stage serenading the ladies and giving cheeky winks as he beckoned lucky members of the audience up to the stage to join the dj’s party.
“Ben Klock closed Paradiso with a spectacular set that began relatively minimal before opening up to a steady supply of slamming techno. The crowd were rapturous, and Klock gauged the mood well, keeping a close eye on his audience’s reactions to his every amendment. He fed off the crowd’s enjoyment, picking up the pace and the energy throughout and looked as though he was enjoying every minute.
“Bristol donned its Sunday best the next day with an impeccable drum and bass and reggae line up. On the bill were Goldie, My Nu Leng, Stormzy, Redlight, Chase and Status and Katy B among many others.
“Still a little tender from yesterday’s techno hit, we sought a sunny spot by the main stage to take in Nightmares on Wax. The Leeds star commanded attention from the start, opening with an overwhelming set of organ chords. The sound gradually became more synthesized and just as everyone was beginning to scratch their heads in wonder at what on earth was going on, a phat bassline swaggered in and everyone broke out their rude boy moves.
“Elsewhere, the ebullient Brouhaha stage was in full swing again with French reggae ensemble, Manu Digital had the crowd bouncing. In contrast, in the shade, the Shambarbers stage was playing some spacey psychedelic drum and bass, as girls dressed as unicorns swarmed around.
“While often prominent artists merely make a flying stop at festivals to play their set and leave promptly, today’s artists and their entourages were taking time out backstage to party. Giggs seemed to have claimed an area and bottles of whisky were being passed around, with a collection of Maserati’s and Bentleys that someone had parked in the press area as a backdrop.
“The Arcadia stage looked like something from a sci-fi thriller, a tall structure with an elevated glass bubble in the middle for the DJs and metal branches surrounding the dancing space bellowing fire and smoke. My Nu Leng took to the stage with zing, playing a succession of garage and 00s house classics, as flames lit up around the stage. As Goldie took to the decks he half smirked, the lowering sun catching his gold tooth and a darker, grimier tone was installed. Concluding the day with a bouncy set from Redlight, I left extremely impressed at the vibrancy of the whole weekend. Bristol goes hard!”
She Said by Ann McManus. Images by ShotAway.com.