25th & 26th May | Eastville Park
Photos: Paul Lippiatt
Last weekend marked my first time venturing to Love Saves The Day. The sold-out Bank Holiday two-dayer has gleaned a reputation as being the go-to event in Bristol’s festival calendar. Unsurprisingly, even in the queue, crowds of all ages were exuding excitement as they piled into Eastville Park.
Warming up by milling around the site, catching glimpses of Elder Island and DJ Storm, I could see that each portion of the festival embraced its own identity. Whether it was fairies prancing around the Lost Gardens or wall-to-wall sound systems in Teachings of Dub, each entity provided unique escapism.
Highlighted by the sun, Shy FX ramped up the Main Stage with a myriad of heavy classics with his fresher DnB material thrown in. With a surprise addition of Lily Allen bouncing on for ‘Roll The Dice’, the crowd erupted with a thrill of anticipation set for her headline slot. After a quick run around to tech-house masterminds Solardo at Lonely Hearts, the next hour was dedicated to slowthai.
Paradiso was a hubbub of exhilaration as the Nottingham rapper was welcomed by deafening applause. Through mosh pits, barrier crushes and screams plenty, the set weaved through material from his stellar debut album Nothing Great About Britain. As the crowd broke into an uncontrollable mob for ‘Inglorious’, the feeling of witnessing something truly incredible was overwhelming. Staying under the greenhouse for our March front-page-featured artist Little Simz, accompanied by a band, Paradiso proved that grime is not only alive and thriving, but competely dominating.
Jumping over to the main stage for a nostalgic trip back to 2006, Lily Allen delighted with ‘Smile’ and ‘LDN’. In true Lily form, she captivated with tongue-in-cheek quips amidst her No Shame material. As she wrapped up the first day and all fled to the Love Bus, Sunday had a lot to contend with if it was going to top it.
Despite a damp start to the Sunday, the sense of pride of Bristol’s rich music culture couldn’t be more apparent if Love Saves The Day tried. With Brouhaha welcoming Dutchie to the blue arena and Monkey Wrench inducing crowd bopping in the Lost Gardens, the showcasing of local talent added an even greater sense of inclusivity to the event.
For an injection of hip-hop to proceedings, High Focus veteran, Ocean Wisdom revved up the Main Stage in the blistering sun, as ‘Righteous’ soundtracked the perfect afternoon slot. Barely being able to get a foot in for Peggy Gou, the Berlin-based bombshell wowed with her vibrant mixes.
With a huge crowd swelling for Lady Leshurr, the largest disappointment of the weekend was the sound at Lonely Hearts. Although I can’t pretend I’m an expert on festival logistics, the limitation on noise travelling past anyone located front and centre felt a little detrimental to following bass-heavy acts such as Friction and Linguistics and Holy Goof.
From here on, if you didn’t fancy heading over to house-titan Denis Sulta, the night lent itself to immersing yourself in some of the best classic and contemporary Jungle. With a quick boogie to living legend David Rodigan, pitching up for Chase & Status seemed to be the entire festival’s idea too. Armed with General Levy, Skibadee and Rage (of course), Chase & Status threw in glimpses into their upcoming album alongside vintage works like ‘Eastern Jam’. As fireworks illuminated the animalistic crowd, the drum & bass duo reinstated their prominence in the world of jungle.
Quite fittingly, the highlight of Love Saves was the closing act of my festival experience. As Bonobo headlined Paradiso, his performance was simply mesmerising. Lusciously weaving through techno and crowd pleasers like ‘Cirrus’, the versatility of the set encompassed the soul of LSTD. Whether you’re a house fiend, bass head or otherwise, the two-dayer truly celebrates the best in UK music from grassroots and beyond.
Rowdy, relentless and elating, Love Saves The Day is truly a national treasure in the festival circuit.
See the video for ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ by slowthai here: