Castle Park, Bristol, 25th May
Bristol can’t make up its mind today. The weather is bright, but cold and breezy – there’s warmth coming in but when and where is not obvious. And there’s Love Saves The Day in Castle Park – a cacophonous festival in a park which borders on Bristol’s patchwork shopping centre. For a day Castle Park is the pulsing heart of Bristol, the youth owning the City centre. There’s dubstep in Debenhams and mashups in McDonalds – will Love indeed Save The Day?
Castle Park itself is a great site for an event like this. I’d walked through it a thousand times but never once considered how appropriate it is for a multi-stage event. Dips and valleys abound and there are a number of natural amphitheatres. I keep thinking I’m coming to the end but there’s another stage, another bar. Maybe it’s the way it was marketed, maybe it’s the lineup but it’s a fairly narrow age range in attendance. In a nice way, this is Bristol’s big frat party.
The Other Tribe provide my first musical experience of the day. The LSTD organisers always look to use local acts and The Other Tribe have been getting some decent national press. It’s not surprising; they’re funky and propulsive and the audience lap it up. Given the early afternoon slot there’s a lot of hands in the air action and a definite vibe in the air.
Capitalising on that are Bondax. The teen DJ’s play to me what appears to be an utterly average set but you can’t argue with a thousand dancers and they appear to have timed their tunes with perfection.
Time for a drink. There are bars aplenty in the Park but a bewildering variety of liquids to consume. The Bath Ales bar has no Bath Ales, but it does have Brothers cider in cans. The main bar has Brother’s pint containers but these are filled with Bath Ales Gem. To quote the late great Fred Scuttle: ‘That could confuse a stupid person.’
Off to the aptly named Digital Soundboy stage, home of Shy FX’s label and roster. The man himself is on great form, drawing a large crowd to a very small stage and nicely annexing the whole mid-portion of the Park.
I’d never seen or heard of Crazy P before but I’ve been the one missing out. Very strong vocals with a powerful dance vibe reminded me a lot of noughties Bristolian hitmakers Kosheen, Lead singer Danielle Moore wore a fluorescent orange flared one-piece which took some bottle to wear but was one of the highlights of a very strong set. There was even a touch of the hugely contemporary Moroder / Daft Punk vibe which just added to the pleasure.
By 6pm there’s a heaving mass of cider-leavened humanity for Bonobo. The weather is at its height and the crowd are up for it. Sadly, Bonobo decide not to oblige and start the set with two lengthy instrumentals. By the time their lead singer appears 3 songs in, a lot of people have walked away. I felt that Bonobo didn’t do themselves any favours – the audience peaked right at this point and we were ready for anything, but Bonobo just took too long to come through.
Luckily Alunageorge come on and – guess what? – Save The Day. Aluna Francis has a terrific stage presence. By now the evening’s getting cold but our barely-clad lead singer Owns The Stage™. It seems odd that, by now, the audience is depleted, but there’s no doubt that there are fewer people surrounding the main stage. Nonetheless, of all the acts I see, Alunageorge are my favourites, with particular standouts being the hits ‘Attracting Flies’ and ‘Your Love, Your drugs’, and an unexpected cover of the Montell Jordan classic ‘This is How We Do It‘.
The vagaries of Bristolian Public Transport mean that I won’t get to see today’s headliners, Rudimental. Instead I take in a consolatory set from Redlight– a stunning lightshow, ladies doing the robot and flying dreadlocks in front of an amazing set.
There were other highlights of the day, including the Kid’s area, which was just terrific. I’d have liked to have seen a slightly broader base of acts but then there’s always tomorrow, when we’ll see the likes of Chic and Soul II Soul. Thanks to the lovely PR team for their help and I look forward to getting back to Castle Park tomorrow.