Love Saves the Day 2014 Review

!(feature_l)!Love Saves the Day returned to Bristol’s Castle Park over the late May Bank Holiday weekend with nearly 100 acts from the electronic and bass music scene. Put together by half of team behind the city’s In:Motion club series plus the brains of Glastonbury’s WOW stage and See No Evil, this year’s two-day festival was headlined by SBTRKT, Annie Mac, Eats Everything and Jamie XX. It proved to be another fine showcase of the city’s exuberant music culture.

Though it was obvious Saturday’s weather forecast of a day of rain was less than ideal for festival with a single modest-sized tent amongst its eight stages, the Bristol revellers were unperturbed. Lining the street alongside Castle Park to get in even as the rain fell, there was a lot of excitement – particularly as we passed the Black Butter Records stage shuffling closer to the entrance. It was the first destination we headed for when we gained access to the festival, keen to hear what sounds were coming from the stage hosts who boast Gorgon City and Rudimental as current signings.

Bristolian Woz was laying down a bass set which was proving as popular inside the fence as with those passing by outside. There was a lot of movement from the crowd despite the treacherous conditions which claimed victims all over the site throughout the weekend, particularly on the slopes. We made a move over to the Just Jack stage to hear London’s fabric resident Craig Richards break out house from the capital with an effective 4/4 set that proved a little too serious for late afternoon so we switched to the Futureboogie Recordings area where Crazy P were making funkier choices behind the decks that set us up nicely for a dash of Hercules and Love Affair on the main stage. The New Yorkers were a soulful link between the day and night – we headed back to the Black Butter Records stage to get in the mood for twilight.

My Nu Leng’s blend of garage, drum and bass, deep house and more means you’re never sure what you might get from them, but today they were in a suitably aggressive mood which helped banish any fears of coldness creeping into our minds as we tried to establish a level spot among the slushy mud. Next our attention turned to Annie Mac on the Main Stage with her shouts of ‘Come on, Bristol’ as she delved into her varied record bag of electro, house and bass, but it was garage legend DJ EZ who got the biggest reaction at the Dance Off without the need for a mic.

Todd Terje’s “Inspector Norse” sent his fans into raptures.

The Kiss FM maestro managed to pack what felt like a quarter of the festival into the far corner of the site, all squeezed into a small enclosed area that was overlooked from two tall viewing platforms. When Boy Better Know’s “Too Many Men” and DJ Pied Piper & The MC’s “Do You Really Like It” were melded together the crowd went wild, jostling for space to wave their arms while others had to jump from their vantage points into an already busy dancefloor. Without even trying too hard DJ EZ had created the most boisterous scenes of the day, proving that the love for garage continues to run deep – especially when it’s done right by one of the masters. We decided to cleanse our palate before a headliner set so got some techno grooves from Nina Kraviz at Just Jack ahead of Todd Terje on Futureboogie’s stage.

The Norwegian purveyor of cosmic disco has been the flavour of 2014 with his LP It’s Album Time hitting shelves in April featuring his best known track “Inspector Norse”, and he made for the perfect finale set of good time vibes that reached it’s peak with Norse sending fans into raptures. Following that up with an old classic by Giorgio Moroder in the form of the Chase theme from 1978 movie Midnight Express proved a popular choice to keep the dreamy synths going, then we headed over the massive throng that had assembled for the finale of Eats Everything at the Main Stage for a last dance before calling it a day as they rain continued to fall. It had been tough conditions, yet also a lot of fun, with a great blend of house, bass and techno that saw all stages get attention and a lot of happy music fans.

SBTRKT acted as a blissful lullaby for the Love Saves the Day weekend.

Thankfully the weather gods deemed Saturday’s rainfall enough for one weekend, so we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by sunshine when we drew back the curtains the following morning for part two of Love Saves the Day. Sadly getting mobilised took a little longer than expected, we were too late to see the Gentleman’s Dub Club on the Main Stage, but we did catch the end of Quantic’s uplifting and soulful electronic-blended jazz which was a perfect accompaniment to the glorious sunshine the crowd were lapping up. On the Sunday it was even possible to get a little rest sitting on the ground – meaning the hill opposite the main stage became a popular place to sit and enjoy a more chilled selection of acts at the focal point of the festival.

We went looking for a livelier afternoon, however our first choice of Shy FX on the Digital Soundboy stage was thwarted by everyone else seeming to have a sudden desire to get their drum and bass fix. With a lengthy queue forming to get anywhere near the stage, we opted to check out the Crack Magazine-curated stage where the Francis Inferno Orchestra was going back-to-back with Fantastic Man with some dubby house before A Sagittarium went on a more minimal techno tip. With the shade of the trees blocking out the sun, we decided it was high time we tried to get in to see Shy FX, and after a 15 minute wait in line were rewarded with both driving D&B and the sunshine blazing onto us.

Digital Soundboy label head Shy FX blasted out a varied mix which took in Dizzee Rascal and even Booka Shade’s “Body Language” which the Bristol faithful lapped up, then Mike Skinner took over with an eclectic set which started off very 4/4, then took in dubstep and drum & bass, Daft Punk in the form of “Burnin” and a couple of tracks from his time as The Streets. Skinner even MC’d for himself, happily brandishing the mic and using a stage dancer wearing green shades as the target for many of his jibes. Shy FX returned to the decks with Breakage for a surprise set supported by seven flamboyant Brazilian dancers for a quick d&b session, then it was the turn of Ms Dynamite to take centre stage.

Mike Skinner MC’d for himself, using a stage dancer wearing green shades as the target for many of his jibes.

The north Londoner was given such a warm Bristol greeting that she seemed almost overwhelmed, but she turned the tables on them as they went mental when the hits started coming. “What You Talking About!?”, “Cloud 9” and “Dibby Dibby Sound” led up to a typically raucous reaction to “Wile Out” in Ms Dynamite’s half hour set, and then she was gone. We chose to seek out another stage and headed back to Crack Magazine’s where ghetto house and juke producer DJ Spinn was joined by Taso for Chicago sounds and a tribute to the late DJ Rashad. Barcelona’s John Talabot followed with a finely-crafted set of deep dance music with an intelligence that mirrored his own debut album fIN.

Before the headline set by SBTRKT on the Main Stage we caught some disco from Greg Wilson in the Soul Train tent and Hannah Mulvany B2B Andres B2B Pato in the Shambarber area, then we settled in for SBTRKT. A vast crowd had assembled to hear his tunes such as “Heatwave”, “Hold On” and “Sanctuary” accompanied by dreamy lights and lasers acting as a blissful lullaby for the Love Saves the Day weekend. SBTRKT project leader Aaron Jerome was humble in taking the Bristol applause for an astute performance that showed amongst all the big names making big sounds, a more downbeat act could steal the show.

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