Review By Bethany Roberts
Bristol residents are familiar with two things: rain and parties.
Last weekend brought both of these together in spectacular British fashion at the wonderful Love Saves The Day weekend. This is a party which attracts the young and the beautiful of Bristols busy party scene, as well as many from around the country; its a pre-season training session for the marathon of UK festivals coming up over the summer. Now in its third incredibly successful year, LSTD showcases an enormous range of local and international talent in the picturesque riverside Castle Park, right in the city centre.
Even on the streets outside the festival perimeter, it was impossible to ignore the infectious beats pouring out from the park. On Saturday, Bristol was plagued by torrential rain; it could have been a washout, and in another city perhaps it would have been, but the LSTD crowd werent about to let that dampen the party. Thousands upon thousands turned out to see current favourites such as Eats Everything and Annie Mac, as well as upcoming acts and local favourites hosted by well-renowned collectives Futureboogie, Just Jack and Apex. The Saturday line up provided a relentless stream of bass and beats lapped up by a soggy and enthusiastic crowd. Dancing was not optional – if anything, the regular movement helped to keep increasingly unstable festival-goers balanced on the rapidly rising tide of mud. Personal highlights were found away from the mainstage. Black Butter hosted Bristol-based My Nu Leng, which drew a huge crowd to their relatively small stage, and Just Jack had the exceptional Craig Richards playing a fantastic 2 12 hour set. The Futureboogie stage delivered every time; Todd Terje headed the bill, preceded by Motor City Drum Ensemble, and the surreal disco vibes of both of those acts were the perfect soundtrack for a few silly hours dancing in the rain, capping a hilarious afternoon surrounded by glitter-strewn, mud-drenched, happily fluorescent ravers.
If Saturdays hedonistic, energetic and trendy crowd was epitomised by the general attire of wifebeaters, hot pants and snapbacks, then Sunday was represented by an outbreak of tie-dye and Doc Martens. Thankfully, the day dawned remarkably bright, and blossomed into a beautiful May afternoon and evening, providing perfect conditions for the more chilled Sunday programme.
The site was still a mudbath, but the atmosphere was just as friendly as it had been the day before. On a bill that boasted the likes of Jamie XX, Ms Dynamite, Gentlemans Dub Club, Mike Skinner and Neneh Cherry, it was almost impossible to prioritise what to see. Quantic was the standout musical triumph of the day, bringing a little dub-infused Colombian spice to the mid-afternoon mainstage crowd; the band were joined by the gorgeous Nidia Gongora to perform a few tunes from their excellent new album Magnetica. To escape the madness of heat and mud, a sizeable crowd continuously filtered in and out of the stone courtyard Teachings In Dub stage, where dub legend Aba Shanti-i was delivering a mega six-hour set. Clean Bandit delivered a fresh, upbeat set of intelligent pop, securing their spot as this years champions of the necessary summer anthem. Standing at the top of one of the hills on the site perimeter, it was possible to see the whole festival spread below, framed by the spires and warehouses of the city centre, with glimpses of the river gleaming between the stages. The festivals colourful, temporary inhabitants ran and danced below, forgetting about the world outside for a few short and optimistic hours.
A small observation (not necessarily a criticism) is that the layout and programming of LSTD tends to prohibit the crowds from fully committing to whoever is playing each stage. Wherever youre standing, you can hear the beats from another stage drawing you away, and as most of the set times were short, (approx. 60-90 minutes) the temptation was too strong to run around and try and see a little bit of everything, which sometimes resulted in not enough of anything. The resulting atmosphere is that of a huge party with carefully programmed rooms, rather than a series of full-length gigs that demand your whole attention, as you might get at larger festivals. Its not necessarily a bad thing, but rather something to be prepared for. The beauty of the festival is in its unifying crowd experience, equally achieved in sun, rain, mud or glitter, with something on the musical menu for everyones taste – be it disco, house, techno or dub, everyone became part of the LSTD community for a day or two.
As the festival drew to a close, everyone gathered at the mainstage to celebrate the end of the weekend with SBTRKT, who performed a tight, powerful set accompanied by a stunning laser show. As the crowd poured out of the gates back into the (relative) normality of Bristols Sunday night streets, it was hard to believe that the last two days of outrageous technicolour silliness had really happened in the middle of the city – but the mud and the muscle ache are there to prove it.