FREESTYLE BRISTOL

Love Saved The Weekend

With the festival celebrating its 10th anniversary at a new location, we sent our team to capture the highlights of the occasion

Words: Lewis Daly

Mura Masa performs to a rapt crowd

Image: Giulia Spadafora for Soul Media

A new year and a new site. Love Saves the Day returned for 2022 this time at Ashton Court! The festival celebrated its 10th birthday with 10 stages, leaving plenty of options for us passionate music buffs.

I got an electric scooter to the festival on Thursday, and it was convenient to have a parking spot for them halfway up the walking route. We then trekked a short while through an idyllic natural setting already feeling the festivities ahead of us. A friend of mine fell off on the way grazing his hand, meaning our first stop at the festival was the all exciting Medical Tent! This gave us an excellent opportunity to scope out the new site before the waves of ravers flooded in.

The queues were really quiet at 12.30 and we were greeted by the awesome sounds of Feel the Real on the Love Saves Stage. The sun was shining hot and the beers were easily flowing with all the bars heavily stocked with an excellent selection of beers, wines and spirits, mine’s a Dark Fruits Cider of course. 

There was also a lovely little cocktail bar tucked away near the Hidden Gardens stage for those of us feeling extra special. We then managed to bump into a lovely troupe of drummers known as Batala Bristol. There were around 25 of them all dressed up in their attire and gave a brilliant display of their skills on both days.

Bristol shows its love

Image: Mitchell Williams for Freestyle Bristol/Mitchells Visuals

The crowds really started pouring in at 3pm giving the Love Saves stage an already large crowd, for it to only get bigger as the day progressed. 3-5pm showed us Sub Focus and Flight b2b Sweetpea, kicking off the drum and bass for Thursday surrounded by fabulously-dressed drag queens on either side of the stage. We grabbed some food from the many food vendors (3 different pizza vans) and enjoyed the festivities for the afternoon leading up to Bicep’s Live set at 9.30pm.

As Bicep was about to play what looked like half of the festival poured onto the Love Saves Stage almost as if they were all at the festival only for them (Bicep). I personally love nothing more than a live set over a dj set, it was amazing to watch the talented pair launch loops and sounds and remix their tracks on the fly, rather than just mix the tracks together. It’s more immersive and enjoyable and they gave an amazing performance. 

We didn’t stay for Bicep’s whole set; however, as Kurupt FM called us from afar, we had to check them out. Kurupt always put on an amazing show, and this one was no different. Their energy levels are second to none and their crowd participation is admirable to say the least. They got the whole crowd excited and were up to their usual hilarious antics finishing the Thursday off very nicely.

Kurupt FM take the stage

Image: Alistair Brookes for Soul Media

Unfortunately, I can’t write about Thursday without mentioning the logistics of exiting the festival. As far as I’m aware there was a police operation blocking the walking exit out of Love Saves. This left thousands of people all leaving at once through the same place as everyone catching the buses. Not only did this overwhelm the buses and leave some people waiting over an hour for one, but it also forced a lot of those people onto one of the busiest roads in Bristol, which given the levels of inebriation amongst the majority of those people, wasn’t very safe.

Something like a police operation blocking the exit can’t be predicted and there’s a certain level of teething problems with moving to a new, bigger site, but seeing as this festival has been going on for 10 years, maybe there should have been a contingency plan for anything like this.

The Born2Be Records crew

Image: Mitchell Williams for Freestyle Bristol/Mitchells Visuals

DAY 2

Muscles are sore and brains are fried from yesterday, but a greasy breakfast and a hair of the dog and we’re back again for round 2!  The litter has been cleared, the stages are set and the beers restocked ready for another wave of excited ravers. 

Our friends Born 2 Be Records hit the Love Saves stage at 1pm, showing us all what they are made of. They pulled a bigger and bigger crowd as their set progressed, starting the energy levels off very high for day 2. Their set was one of the best examples of crowd engagement that I’ve seen, they really knew how to get people gassed.

Kwazi & Shaks

Image: Mitchell Williams for Freestyle Bristol/Mitchells Visuals

It started raining heavily around 5pm and a lot of people left as there was little place to hide from the rain and none of the stages were covered. More covered areas in case of rain is definitely something to consider for next year. This didn’t bother us seasoned festival-goers as much though, the rain never stops us! A few of us huddled under the White Claw bar tent, and some lads started singing the national anthem, bringing the spirits up and reminding us that we’re now in a proper British summer.

Day 2 definitely feels livelier, maybe it’s because it’s the Drum and Bass focussed day, with acts like Shy FX w/Stamina MC, and Harriot Jaxxon w/Carasel, we are in Bristol after all. Whether it’s from the DnB or not, The crowds definitely feel more excited, with more energy. We caught up with some of the acts that afternoon, including Nat Oaks, Rochy Romero, Kwazi, KDogg, AMC and MC Phantom.

Chase & Status

Image: Alistair Brookes for Soul Media

Chase and Status played the closing set at the Love Saves stage, and they were phenomenal. They did a live set, which I was looking forward to knowing they would have the live drum set. What I didn’t expect was for them to bring out several singers and rappers that have featured on their tracks in the past to perform their tracks with them! It was really special to see such an influential group as Chase and Status play all of their classic tracks with live vocals and drums. A perfect end to the day.

The festival as a whole was a great celebration for 10 years of Love Saves the Day, and while it doesn’t feel exactly the same as Eastville Park, it’s refreshing to see an established Bristol festival expanding in size and scope. 

There will always be issues and difficulties with changing sites, and I’m sure the exits and rain cover will be resolved for next time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time this year at one of my favourite festivals, and I can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever make it a camping festival?

Andy C

Image: Alistair Brookes for Soul Media