FESTIVAL REVIEW: Love Saves the Day 2017
Kate Tempest, BadBadNotGood, Fat Freddy's Drop, Little Dragon. Love Saves the Day spoiled us rotten this year.
May is an awkward month, the weather is unpredictable, work patterns are in flux, pollen has started lining the air and, in this particular case, an utterly horrifying election is looming large. For these reasons, it might feel a bit early to fully commit to festival season. That’s the beauty of the city festival, it eases you it, it reminds you of how much fun they can be without forcing you to commit as far as a tent to sleep in and a mound of snacks to live on.
Love Saves the Day is one of the biggest in Bristol, if not the entire country. Bristol is effectively the UK’s designated party town at the moment. The combination of the relatively young population, the presence of so many sound system luminaries, the spread of venues and just the vibe make it an ideal city for this kind of thing, and the sizeable Eastville Park is an appropriate setting.
Love Saves the Day is very young, next to Tokyo World (also in Eastville Park) it’s one of the newest festivals Bristol has to offer and it’s been getting consistently better with each passing year. This time around, the event was split between a glut of party producers/DJs on the Saturday and a more live-band driven approach on the Sunday, with the heaviest hitters including Fatima Yamaha, Little Dragon, BadBadNotGood, AJ Tracey, Kate Tempest and Fat Freddy’s Drop.
The Saturday felt like a slow burner. Since the first day line-up largely consisted of dance acts, it took the slowly building crowd a while to jack into the vibe, but that’s no bad thing, it gave us all time to get our bearings. Eastville Park isn’t small, and the festival had brought in a whopping nine different stages, spread evenly enough to minimise most of the sound bleeding.
Arcadia’s Afterburner stage (imagine the moisture vaporators from Star Wars, only belching flame) took care of the dnb and jungle, Shambarber played host to a lot of house acts, as did the smaller Dance Off Stage (which actually had one of the best sound systems) and all the other stages stayed beholden to their chosen daily curators. Fatima Yamaha was the first major act on the main stage, followed by Crazy P, Mura Masa and a stunning closing performance from Little Dragon.
Elsewhere, Just Jack curated an impressive line-up at the tented Paradiso stage, fronted by strong performances by Andrew Weatherall and Bicep. By the end of the night the entire field was alive with energy, as the crowd dispersed out into the city to take on the various Love Saves the Night afterparties dotted around the city. I went to the one at Lakota, which featured DJ Die, Zed Bias and Toddla T, as if the daytime schedule hadn’t been ridiculous enough.
Sunday was a different affair altogether, the crowd was bigger, the weather was less stable and the line-up was a lot more band focused. Sadly this also meant a lot of clashes, especially late in the day, but these things are hard to avoid. Paradiso was curated by Crack Magazine, and had arguably the most impressive roster of any of the small stages. Early acts included Jessy Lanza and Hannah Faith, and the night was rounded out by an incredible set by BadBadNotGood, who brought singer Charlotte Day Wilson along for the ride. I feel like now that I’ve seen them cover Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game” I can probably die.
Meanwhile, Cloud 9 was being covered by local booking heroes The Blast. D Double E played a strong early set, then later into the evening Toddla T and My Nu Leng dominated. Levelz were the real stars though. I’ve seen the Manchester mega squad a few times now but this might have been the strongest, aided by the presence of Trigga. Late into their set their eschewed their own material in favour of a tribute to dnb legend Marcus Intalex, who sadly passed away over the weekend. It was once in a lifetime stuff. Special mention must also go out to Alex, the liveliest festival security guard I’ve ever encountered. Seriously the guy should be a hype man.
Arcadia was curated by Run, so it was somehow even more lit than it had been the previous day, but by the end, it was hard to fight the lure of the main stage. Incredibly, Kate Tempest used her stage time to run through the entirety of her most recent album, Let Them Eat Chaos, which since it’s such a narrative driven piece, was quite a thing to behold. The audience was utterly entranced, and what better way to play everything out than with Fat Freddie’s Drop.
Love Saves the Day doesn’t feel six years old, it feels far more smooth than any festival so young ought to. The lineup is varied enough that things never felt repetitive and it used the space intelligently. Bristol’s scene was crazy enough already, but LSTD is fast becoming the crown jewel.