There’s beauty in the fact that local acts are able to shine through as well as the national treasures.
Dot To Dot is a fixture that’s grown to be a well-loved part of our festival season. There’s a decisive festival spirit about the place as it returns in its tenth year. The sun is beaming, public parks are packed and beverages are firmly out. It’s ultimately the perfect setting to discover some new music.
The Louisiana is the first stop of the day, for locals The Jesuits. Although the band still have no material online, their fuzzy tracks are distinctive enough to be remembered from recent appearances. They play confidently through their set, to the point you wouldn’t know that guitarist James Maclucas [Towns] is struggling along with three strings. During the last song he gives in and places the guitar down saying it’s not going to work; it falls to the floor as he assumes a position amongst the crowd. This both raises amusement and makes us appreciate what the remaining three do to finish their set. They’re indeed an exciting local prospect, and when that material finally does arrive they’re definitely going to be causing some noise.
Our agenda carries us across the city toward the Trinity Centre, where another local artist Tamu Massif is showcasing the sounds of his dreamy new EP. He plays in front of a huge stained glass window making for a somewhat majestic experience. ‘Jejune / Selene’ stands out as the pinnacle of his set in true dazed fashion. The Chiverin-signed artist is likely to have bagged a few more crowd members for his headline show at The Louisiana in June. The sounds are both whimsical and reassuring, with a real unique presence onstage.
It’s a hurried walk back down the road to catch Nottingham trio Kagoule. The Exchange is bustling with positivity as the three take to the stage. They’ve got a definite grunge-laden prowess, most prominent in closing track ‘It Knows It’. They’re an animated bunch as bassist Lucy springs about the place in dungarees. Having already played on some prestigious stages, it’s safe to say that their debut album ‘Urth’ could take them to the next level and see them headlining places just like these in the near future.
Arguably the festivals best performances are taking place at Trinity Centre, so most of our day is spent there. The first in the next string of acts is the still-blossoming Menace Beach — a band who’ve been no strangers to Bristol over the last year. Their kooky synth-lines and garish distortion are as ever at the forefront of the live show, and they kick the evening off in domineering style.
PINS are on next, and it’s been more than a while since we last saw their faces in the city. There’s something totally empowering about these girls and their music: it’s broody, intense and darkly satisfying. They exploit the festival’s link with Fred Perry in cult style, as they’ve become fashion ambassadors for the brand since their emergence, it’s like ‘This Is England’ up there.
We stick around for the endearing Hinds, and it goes without saying that Bristol has a soft-spot for these Madrid girls. The pure and simple ethos behind this live show is fun. It’s smiles all around as they kick off their downstairs set with all the charming garage-pop we’d ambled in expecting. Industry buzz continues to mount on top of these girls, formally known as Deers, and it’s easy to see why — they’re perhaps one of the day’s best acts.
It’s not very far to the next show on our list, as we trundle upstairs to catch a second duo, Honeyblood. This is a much bigger stage than the rather compact likes of The Louisiana, but they handle the occasion well, breezing through their debut album effortlessly. “This one’s called ‘Super Rat’,” reveals Stina Tweedale after some informal chatter, an announcement that receives a loud response. The pair charm the large crowd with relative ease and it’s a nice transition into the heavier sounds that are about to take place downstairs.
We decide to skip the sun-strewn flair of big-namers Swim Deep in lieu of something much heavier: surf-doom trio The Wytches are next up on the Trinity stage and they’re clearly at the height of their game. Considering there hasn’t been any new material since the band’s first album last year, they manage to compel us all, stirring a crowds attention in true style. Kristian Bell’s crackling voice is still something to behold as they thump out classics like ‘Gravedweller’. There’s something heavily relatable about this young trio’s music that connects with the younger crowd — and it’s frighteningly good.
Such a dervish set is the ideal warm-up for the routinely messy Fat White Family. It was a bit of a panic hearing that the band’s gear had been stolen in the USA just a week prior to the show, but nevertheless they appear fully-equipped. There’s a drug-addled presence about the lethargic bunch onstage, their zombie-like aesthetic is ever-prominent during tracks like ‘Auto Neutron’ and ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’. Lias Saoudi has already sealed his reputation as one of our generation’s great frontmen, and now he writhes about on-stage, throwing some crass and aggressive moves, perpetuating his notoriety. Their show sees pints hurled, audience members shoved to the ground, and we stagger out feeling totally jaded.
That leaves Something Anorak to round things off at The Stag & Hounds. The Howling Owl-signed bunch lovingly bring new tracks into their set for us and it’s the perfect comedown from the debauchery we’ve just witnessed. The band still share old favourites like ‘I Am A Doctor’ rounding off our festival well.
In essence, it’s been another enthralling year dashing around Bristol for the tenth annual Dot To Dot, kicking into gear a joyous festival season yet to come. There’s a beauty in the fact that so many local acts are able to shine through alongside all those national picks. We anticipate that it continues into the distant future.
Check out Kagoule right here: