URB Takes on FORWARDS Festival

Last weekend URB were invited to the brand-new inner-city weekend festival. Constructed around important conversations and a boasting lineup of music, FORWARDS brought a 30,000 strong crowd to Bristol’s Clifton Downs. 

Team Love, who also bring us the well-known ‘Love Saves the Day’, filled the missing gap of a ‘family friendly festival with the music that people in Bristol and the Southwest want to see’. 

What surprised us most was the contrasting ambience between Saturday and Sunday, shaped heavily by the artists they showcased. On Saturday, pop sensation Charlie XCX sang her classics, 2022’s rising star Fred again..attracted an army of fans, Little Simz wowed the crowd with an electric performance and Floating Points surprised us with a memorable set of intense visuals and heavy dance music, before the night closed with festival favorite Jamie xx. Saturday’s crowd mirrored that which you would expect to find at Bristol’s other music festivals – Love Saves the Day & Tokyo world. While Sunday brought a generally older crowd, with a much more chilled vibe. Sleaford Mods impressed us with how they seemingly filled the main stage with just two members and a whole load of energy. Our festival highlight consisted of the colorful and talented performance by Caribou which blended perfectly into the much-anticipated Bristol return of The Chemical Brothers. It would be impossible to give this performance justice through words so we would recommend you have a look at URB’s Instagram (@uniradiobath) to see a compilation of the breathtaking visuals they showed us. 

Although in its inaugural year, FORWARDS was smooth and slick throughout. The two stages sat in opposite corners, with artists being alternated between to allow for little to no clashes between sets. The journey between the two stages was decorated with an enormous choice of food and drink stalls, absolutely no complaints can be made about the sheer quantity of different cuisines available. In addition to the carefully constructed line-up and site layout, getting to the festival was easy. With the choice of a shuttle bus from Temple Meads, a connecting train to Clifton Down (we tried both these options and would recommend the bus if you value personal space), Voi’s and cycling; transport links were vast. This festival wasn’t short of new ideas, one of them being a Voi parking system that made using the electric scooters an enjoyable transport link from station to festival. This along with a bike storage provide the festival with a sustainable feel which really fits in with the Bristol vibe we all love. 

What made this festival unique, and thrive with Bristol and its people, was The Information stage. ‘A space designed for discussion, examination, debate and understanding today’s current affairs and cultural issues’, while challenging the role of music festivals. URB strongly believes in giving people a voice on subjects with varying perspectives. In such a divisive social and political climate this belief has, in our opinion, become more important and as a student radio station we feel like we have a duty to do so. This way of thinking is shared by many others who are fortunate enough to have a platform to do so, including event coordinator Tom Paine. It became clear that Tom achieved this by including a wide range of speakers that discussed topical issues alongside the line-up of big names. These topics included the evolution of racism, the creation of a sex positive city and discussion around the answer to the rise in the use of recreational drugs; all important and prominent themes within the student culture. We spoke to Tom during the festival to find out more, you can find our conversation here.

FORWARDS Festival was one of our favourites this summer and was an experience we won’t forget. We are grateful to have been invited to the festival and look ‘forward’ to next year.  

Talking to Tom at FORWARDS

URB interviewed FORWARDS festival organiser Tom! You can listen to this below:

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