25th May | Various Venues
Photos: Philip Hiscocks
If you’re a Bristol-based fan of indie music, the last Saturday of May means only one thing: enjoying the best new music at Dot To Dot festival. Having been religiously every year since 2013, it’s a real highlight of the year for me and 2019 was no exception.
I started the day off by taking in sets from local Bristol acts. First up was Pet Shimmers at The Lousiana, whose fuzzy, warm sound and memorable songwriting made for an excellent introduction to the day. At Mothers Ruin, Miss Kill entertained with a half-hour set of their grunge-infused songs. It was great to see that for such a small venue, there was quite a crowd there to support the duo. There’s a real buzz about them in the city.
Over at SWX, fellow Bristol grunge band, No Violet’s angsty set, complete with hypnotic and unusual vocals from singer Ellie Godwin, went down a storm. Their catchy songwriting and huge sound received a warm and appreciative response. From conversations overheard on the way out of the venue, they won over a lot of new fans.
Next, I headed over to the O2 Academy to catch The Orielles. Admittedly I’ve only discovered their music recently, having missed out on their excellent first album, Silver Dollar Moment when it was released last year. I regretted not having got into them sooner, so I was really looking forward to seeing them play live for the first time and they did not disappoint.
From the crowd that turned out to see them on Saturday, it’s obvious that they have collected a dedicated fan base, as the room was packed out and full of excitable chatter as we waited for the set to begin. The Orielles played tracks from their aforementioned debut and finished off with my personal favourite of theirs, ‘Bobbi’s Second World’. Their upbeat, sunny dream-pop was the perfect fit for the festival and captured the mood and atmosphere of the day for me.
Moving upstairs at O2 Academy 2, the next band I caught was London-based Bloxx. Having enjoyed their set at Truck Festival immensely two years ago, I’ve been following their music since and it’s been great to see them getting more recognition recently. There was a sizeable turnout for them, including a group of very vocal fans. Bloxx played a tight and energetic half-hour set, including tracks from this year’s Headspace EP and finished with arguably their most well-known single, ‘Curtains’.
Next it was time to take in a more chilled-out set from Birmingham’s Swim Deep, back downstairs. They certainly had their fans there and the room wasn’t empty by any means, but their set lacked the same buzz and response that other bands at the festival enjoyed. Having said that, ‘Honey’ and ‘King City’ from their debut went down particularly well, as did their baggy-inspired track ‘To My Brother’. From the more spoken-word style of their new song, ‘To Feel Good’, their upcoming third album is looking to be a radical departure from their previous work. I’m curious to hear more and to see how it goes down with their long-term fans.
There was already a big crowd forming for Dream Wife at O2 Academy 2 during Swim Deep’s set, but I managed to get a spot near the front, despite the mad rush to get in. I was surprised when the festival announced Dream Wife would be playing in the smaller upstairs room at the venue. Seeing the turnout for their set proved that they should have been playing a bigger space.
Being one of my favourite live bands for a few years now, I knew we were in for an absolute treat and this was the highlight of the festival for me. Playing favourites from their self-titled debut album, ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, ‘Kids’ and the always crowd pleasing ‘Somebody’, and a new song too, their fun forty-five-minute set flew by and the appreciative crowd loved every minute of it, jumping about throughout. If you’ve not seen them play live, I wholeheartedly recommend catching them next time they’re in town.
To cap off the day, headliners Crystal Fighters played a blinder of a set to a packed-out Academy. Their lively performance had the room dancing and gave the hour and a quarter they were on stage a real party atmosphere, which was a fitting send-off for what was yet another record-breaking year for Dot To Dot, and deservedly so.
See the video for ‘Somebody’ by Dream Wife here: