Written by Sophie Wyatt

As the cloud parted and the sun shone down on Bristol last Friday, Forwards Festival opened their gates for their second round of weekend revellers. With just two stages, the first eager crowds wandered two and from each one, stopping at the immense amount of different food trucks and interactive talks.

As went walked down to the West Stage, snippets of conversation about Olivia Dean were caught in the mass of the crowd. Hundreds of people floated down to surround the stage as the 24 year old danced on to the stage, surrounded by grinning band. As her set went on, more festival goers were drawn down by her energetic vibes and smooth lyrics. With a small break in between, fans readied themselves for a zestful set from Ezra Collective. The dynamic group brought joyful feels to the Downs, as they encouraged fans to feel all emotions, whether that be happiness or sadness. As half the group jumped down from the stage and played in the crowd, everywhere you turned you were greeted by huge smiles and sunshine filled euphoria.

As the sun started to slowly fall behind West Stage, Raye took to the stage for an emotional set. The singer spoke on love, hate, addiction and friendship, she sang with heart and transparency. She seemed as enamoured by the crowd as they were by her, alongside her bow tie clad band. Finishing with her hit ‘Escapism’, she brought the crowd to life. Bonobo then brought an ambient feel to the festival as the orange clouds bounced around behind the stage. Alongside a full band, the world renowned DJ/Producer effortlessly captured listeners and accumulated a huge crowd.

We then headed over to East Stage to watch Confidence Man. The dance pop duo amazed us with a fully choreographed routine which they performed alongside their high energy tracks. As it got darker, the pair adorned a led bralet and shoulder pads which only added to the entrancing visuals. ‘Holiday’ and ‘Luvin U Is Easy’ were definite highlights and we can safely say this was our favourite festival set of the summer.

Finally everyone gathered to watch the days headliner; Erykah Badu. Dressed in a breathtaking colour coat with her iconic big hat on, she instantly captured the attention of the festival. Going through several of her big hits from ‘Bag Lady’ to ‘On & On’, and inviting a personal friend and Mos Def to the stage to share her performance, you could tell the iconic singer was enjoying herself. Overall Forwards was a roaring success this year, we’re excited to see it grow and will be back to the Downs next September!