Continuing to top itself each year it, Love Saves The Day arrived in its fourth year last week with a line-up, venue and attendance to match the top band of UK festivals. A concern for the veterans was having to abandon the dainty sweeps of Castle Park that lay in the heart of Bristol for the suburban Eastville Park. Tokyo Dub back in September had tested the waters and while the music certainly didn’t disappoint it merely felt like you’d been gathered in a field; it lacked the ‘festival’ element.
Upon walking through the entrance of Love Saves The Day 2015 however, any concerns were swiftly dismissed. Tucked round every corner lay surprises of the sort that you’d expect to see at your Bestivals or your Secret Garden Parties, not at this previously pseudo-festival. Trusty old gems like the ‘Dance-Off’ stage were now part of a colourful roster of quirky attractions that made meandering between stages a delight and gave this sun-kissed weekend an extra serving of vibrancy.
Kicking things off early on Saturday, one of our favourite finds late last year, Keiron K15 Ifill was rifling through his soulful collection, for which he is renowned, at the Brouhaha stage hosted by Just Jack. The gentle decline of the hill to the foot of the stage made it a choice spot for people to relax in the sun, and there could be no one better to nurture that vibe than Keiron. It was also refreshing to see a DJ relish the moment as much as he did; both audience and selector had fat grins plastered across their cheeks as he slyly brought in D’Angelo’s ‘Betray My Heart’, we feared the day had peaked too soon.
Taking full advantage of the sun, Session Victim conducted a small crowd with enormous energy, projecting their charisma through the huge soundsystem, not just stellar tunes. A wonderful way to loosen the hips for the night of dancing ahead, the German duo treated the crowd to several tracks from their latest EP, including the warm summery ‘Stick Together‘. Maxxi Soundsystem followed, stepping up to the bar set by Session Victim, and paving the way to Leon Vynehall‘s incredible crafted journey which soundtracked the setting sun.
If you could make time to pull yourself away from the wealth of acts on offer, then the BUMP Roller Disco was a wise detour. We came to the decision that the ‘BUMP’ part of the title was a humorously downplayed disclaimer of the battering to both your body and dignity. What did you expect? It’s a roller skating rink at a music festival. We couldn’t pass up the challenge of pulling shapes on skates to our main man Admin on Saturday evening though.
The weather held out for Sunday and, all of a sudden, it was time to head back out to Eastville Park for the second installment of the menagerie of music laid on over the Bank Holiday weekend. More centred on dub and grime than the abundant house and techno of Saturday, Godfather of scratch, Grandmaster Flash worked hard to warm up the early crowd that assembled in dribs and drabs at the main stage.
Following on from Aba-Shanti-I’s colossal all-day set last year no one was going to settle for anything less this time round. Although it may not have been an all-day affair, we couldn’t have asked for better than six hours of the big man Mikey Dread and his Channel One Soundsystem. The sun popped its head out on cue to christen the set, a healthy omen if ever we’ve seen one. With the sun on our face, the craft beer tent beside us, and the nodding selections of Mikey, it was going to take quite a bit of persuading to move on.
Ramping up the intensity, Pinch went head-to-head with Joker, where the two brought us old and new dubstep delights, Kahn’s latest Deep Medi entry ‘Abbatoir’ being a personal highlight. With rewinds galore and the crowd jumping at every track, it was almost too much when D Double E sauntered past the decks to lay down a verse before the arrival of Newham Generals.
Heading over to the dark confines of the Paradiso tent, Floating Points did well to cast light into the gloomy set. Starting off with relaxed Latin beats, he quickly moved into more disco territory, playing Mary Clarke’s ‘Take Me I’m Yours‘ in full to a receptive crowd, lapping up every time that euphoric chorus came charging back in. Several disco belters later, and he’d moved again across the musical spectrum, climaxing in his own ‘Nuits Sorones‘, which saw the crowd explode and the atmosphere get a bit more serious. Glimpses of Four Tet creeping around behind him also built anticipation for their b2b outing at Love Saves The Night once the day event had finished.
Floating Points appreciated his loyal crowd which had chosen to spend the last few hours of the sun in the shade of the Paradiso tent, and reluctantly handed over to Daniel Avery, whose silhouette loomed behind the eerie blue lighting. Avery flew the flag for techno, a booking at contrast to most other acts on the Sunday. After delivering a pounding half an hour of relentless heads-down kicks, Avery broke from the shackles of 4×4 to swerve left-field, dropping Aphex Twin’s ‘Windowlicker‘ out of nowhere. The track drew people in slowly, like zombies, from outside the tent and the atmosphere was strange and beautiful, yet melancholic.
Four Tet‘s closing set was the highlight of the weekend. Demonstrating not only his technical talent but his breadth of musical knowledge and taste, he delighted a crowd by starting on Joe’s edit of Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Thinkin’ About Your Body‘. Only a recently solved mystery, the track immediately brought a smile to everyone’s face. Teasing it until the very last second, the bassline slammed in, louder than anything else heard that day.
Along with the ubiquitous ‘KHLHI‘, Four Tet also aired new material from himself (‘Untitled‘ from his BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix with Jamie xx back in March) and his rare track, ‘Back 2 The Start‘, which samples Cheryl Cole’s ‘Fight For This Love’. The crowd realised how truly special it was to hear the unreleased track, and expressed their gratitude and luck by roaring the lyrics. The set built in intensity, moving into garage and jungle before closing on a calm, with the closer of last year’s LP, ‘Unicorn‘.
As a weary crowd stumbled from the site, which was abruptly drenched in darkness at 11pm, the atmosphere was still glowing in Eastville Park. With the new location allowing bigger crowds and bigger bookings, the festival showed that it can only go from strength to strength. We eagerly await 2016.
Words by Conor Fuller and Joe Mills.