27 & 28 May | Eastville Park
Photos: Paul Lippiatt

As the weather yet again defied predictions, Eastville Park was blessed with blue skies and sun making you wonder, is Eastville park blessed with its own climate for one weekend a year?! Or is Love Saves the Day really as magical as it feels year on year?

In keeping with the tried and tested formula, Saturday was all about summery Ibiza vibes, pumping techno beats and feel good electro pop. Under the heat of the sun, groups of people gathered on the grass in front of the main stage, easing themselves into the festival spirit to the sounds electronic dance acts Elder Island and Bonzai.

When it hit 4pm Fatima Yamaha arrived on stage to a sea of people rising to their feet, edging closer forwards. Yamaha’s synth heavy style quickly gathered a crowd, doubling in size within a few songs. Mura Masa also took to the main stage later on in the day for a dusk set with songs ‘Love$ick’ and ‘What If I Go’ sending the crowd into a fit of whooping.

Over at the Arcadia stage, Saoirse was treating the crowd to a more traditional techno set packed with driving bass beats and snare hits with an added element of world music thrown in. Following in her footsteps were dynamic dubstep turned techno producer duo Peverelist and Hodge. Signed to Livity Sound and Punch Drunk these musical masterminds bring out the best in each other and as the pair bounced off the crowd; festival goers were more than happy to indulge in their track selection.

Addison Groove took over the decks at the competitive Dance Off stage for a garage/house/bass music filled set which had the boxing ring and the hay bails surrounding it abundant with eager dancers keen to show off their best moves.

For a moment of peace and quiet away from the madness of the main festival, the hidden garden offered a much needed moment of respite. Shaded from the sun and decorated with wooden huts, huge orange flowers and colourful bunting, it was a refreshing breather from the otherwise manic crowds and sweat inducing heat. Live drummers brought an element of stonehenge to the festival with their organic sound and spiritual rhythms and I was quite surprised to see so many people getting involved with computer free music.

Of course, the highlights of the day were the eclectic group of headliners including swedish electro pop band Little Dragon, house heavyweight Jamie Jones and techno legend, Bicep.

Whilst leaving Little Dragon wasn’t easy, elsewhere Jamie Jones transported people to house heaven with an anthem filled set, keeping fans engrossed with light, low filter instrumental sections gradually building to bass heavy, punchy beats. It’s certainly
true, Jamie Jones can work a crowd but it’s hardly surprising considering he’s had a residency in Ibiza. But from DC – 10 to LSTD, his energy remains boundless and his concentration never falters.

Sunday’s heavyweight lineup spoke to the Bristol crowd in a way that Saturday’s just didn’t. The city’s longstanding affinity for bass music and sound system culture showed in the turn out for the second day. Though it meant longer queues and more of a chance of never finding anyone again, it also brought with it a much needed vibrance to the mostly dull day.

SHY FX’s mainstage take over offered up a particularly unimaginative set, dropping three tracks in the same order as D*Minds and Jakes did later in the day over on Arcadia. Halfway through however (to a pretty confused but supportive crowd) they switched from their usual drum n bass and jungle sound, to a dubstep and grime set with the likes of the over played “banger” ‘Toppa Top’ and ‘Skeng’ getting the crowd going.

For any true DnB fan a disappointing SHY FX set was in no means a set back to the day and Randall and 4Hero’s set on the Afterburner certainly made up for it. Lovers of slower bass rhythms were treated to music through the mighty Lionpulse Soundsystem on the somewhat less inviting Brouhaha stage. Whilst still good to look at, it had lost a bit of its charm from last years colourful and cosy, hammock surrounded design but in spite of that, every single artist delivered a killer set.

Local Bristol record label and stage organisers Hold Tight kicked off the day with a delightfully dubby set from Roots Agenda with Tenor Steppa on sax. Joining them on the bill were Kreed ft Parly B and Gardna, S.Y.S.T.E.M’S very own VIVEK and Dego Ranking, Egoless and 140 heavyweights Sherwood and Pinch. As expected, VIVEK delivered a heavily sub bass set putting the sound system through it’s paces and using it’s incredible audio quality to the best of its ability. Egoless’ dubwise steppa packed set was equally as bass heavy and evoked nostalgic memories of last year’s blissfully sunny, lilac sky performance.

As the day drew closer to the end it could only mean one thing, it was finally time for the stars of the weekend to dazzle the crowd with their eclectic fusion of roots driven housey, funk and soul. Fat Freddy’s Drop, the 7 strong band hailing from New Zealand, is indisputably the best booking LSTD has had to date; they were the perfect band to close a euphoric weekend, unrivaled with their energy and humour.

They opened by asking everyone in the audience to vote, instantly gaining brownie points before exploding into the horn heavy ‘Sling and Arrow’s from their first studio album, BAYS. Whilst Joe Dukie’s irresistible vocals make you fall in love with song after song, it’s their irreplaceable trombonist HoPepa aka Joe Linsday that really steals the show. Dressed in a dressing gown, a white vest and boxers, slowly throughout the show he lost more and more items of clothing until he was left just in boxers and a sequin hat.

Their set included the brassy sounding ‘Blackbird’, club anthem ‘Razor’ and finally ending on a spectacular extended version of their signature song ‘Shiverman’ from their 2009 album Dr Boondigga and the BW. It’s just a shame that as the clock struck 11PM and Hopepa picked up the tuber, LSTD pulled the power and the show abruptly ended. Not that it dampened anyone spirits, as people quickly exited the festival there was a certified euphoria in the air and I left feeling both excited and curious to see what Team Love have in store for next year. Check out a live version of ‘Shiverman’ below.