There was a brief campaign on Twitter last year to have a BrisFestFest, one weekend in the year when Bristol doesn’t host a festival of some sort. A good point jokingly made, for perhaps we have reached saturation point. But a four-day Jubilee weekend in Bristol could only mean one thing: festivals.
Saturday was Dot to Dot, returning across eight different venues, and mostly a chance to spot an up-and-coming band that might one day make it big, such as previous Dot to Dotters who include Mumford & Sons, Florence & The Machine and Ed Sheeran.
Love Saves the Day was a completely different proposition, with Castle Park taken over by the inaugural festival which saw big international names such as Annie Mac and Roots Manuva mixing it up with Bristol’s own DJ Derek.
The start of Dot to Dot, and Simon Anning was first on in the Louisiana bar, facing an unforgiving crowd as set times for later in the day were still being put up on walls inside and outside. Sat down with his acoustic guitar, he had a deep and gravelly voice with stylish guitar playing, a gentle and unoffensive, if a little unenthusiastic, start to the day ahead.
Over in the Thekla bar with blacked out windows, Neotropics played with samples and electronica in the style of Metronomy. It could have been quite dreamlike but the lead singer’s voice didn’t quite fit with the music.
My next trip was back to the Louisiana, this time outside, partaking in some Black Dragon dragon cider secreted from my mate Mike’s bag, before a trip to the Cooler for Idles, very loud, hardcore, made slightly better with three splendid beards and one splendid moustache.
It was the first occasion of the day when I walked outside and was confused that it was still light, being not even 4pm. It was also noticeable for one of the air conditioning units leaking all over me, funnily enough after the frontman asked if anyone had any water.
At the Fleece, electropop trio The Hundred in the Hands featured another splendid moustache from their drummer. “We don’t have anything like the Jubilee in America,” said the female lead singer, stoood behind a keyboard and also behind a long fringe.
At Start the Bus, I joined a few friends sat cross-legged at the front of the stage for Strange Billy the Saint and Bernadette Pike, on the bill as two separate acts but here joining forces to sing songs about being in love, including Climbing up a Tightrope, as he met her when she was engaged. Bernadette played the electric guitar with a violin bow and their drummer wore a cassock. Billy also played his guitar so rigorously guitar that his glasses flew off.
Joyce the Librarian opened proceedings at the Stag and Hounds. “Welcome to the epicentre of Dot to Dot,” the male singer joked. But I would have far preferred to be here than some of the more populated venues for this was some much-needed downtempo and rather brilliant as well.
Just a shame that I had to then cycle to see a distinctly underwhelming Pixie Lott at Cribbs Causeway, but at least the soaking I received stood me in good stead for Love Saves the Day in Castle Park yesterday, most of which was tarnished by constant rain, sadly preventing the Dance Off boxing ring from being fully utilised and made the few indoor areas disproportionally popular.
With music emanating from across the festival site, it was a case of following your ears. If you didn’t like one area, move to the next. As I arrived, Bob Marley’s Sun Is Shining was playing from one sound system, with no small sense of irony in the pouring rain.
Over on the main stage, positioned at the far end of the park nearest the band stand, Annie Mac drew a large crowd, being one of the largest draws of the festival. This was also where non-DJ acts such as the always excellent Roots Manuva and the excellently-named Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs made their home.
For longer than his scheduled 10pm finish, Mr Scruff bedded down in the Jubilee Marquee, his quirky illustrations accompanying his eclectic choice of records.
Over at The Dance Off, DJ Derek provided his usual mix of reggae and soul, before handing to DJ Sticky who managed to mix dubstep with Russian ballet, proving that at Love Saves the Day there was most definitely something for everyone.