By: Mustafa Mirreh
3 June, 2017, 13:00
The words #WeStandTogether hold close to many following the terrible events that happened in Manchester, and despite the rush of emotions as we walk down to Thekla, we remain in high spirits as the Bristol edition of Dot to Dot Festival gets underway. The festival hosting it’s biggest line-up yet for new music; it all comes to good planning to see the bands you want. Yes there are going to be clashes as always, but we’re fairly confident in catching the right stuff to quench our music thirsts.
Starting the day off is the Louisiana, and already the venue is filled to the brim. The bar stage, hosted by Bristol Live Magazine gets underway with Bristol lo-fi talent SLONK. Singer Joe Sherrin and drummer Phil’s raw energy grip the audience as jangling guitar strings, drumming and sharp vocals deliver honest and tense emotions with warm and fuzzy-feels spilling out in-between. We glance upstairs thinking Body Clocks will be on next but their set time is pushed back till later in the afternoon, so we head off to Thekla to catch London singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya. Her jazz-tingling pop songs and honest songwriting immediately light up the boat, sending chills and summer vibes to everyone’s ears. Pleased with the performance, we get our legs moving to The Fleece to see She Makes War. Impeccable as ever, as we see Laura Kidd with her signature megaphone to perform ‘Delete’. Classic songs aside, the artist showcases some new material from her forthcoming fourth album, with ‘Fortify’ and ‘I Want My Country’ particularly sounding refreshing and defiant as they touch on current political issues.
Next we head to the O2 to catch psych pop group Cousin Kula, but not before the piano melodies of Ardyn who kick things off on stage 2. The duo from Gloucestershire with their full band are also showcasing new material, and sounding bigger than before with more keys, drumming and guitars in full motion. Their traditional folk arrangements are long gone, and welcome a more experimental pop approach with Katy Pearson’s soaring vocals guiding through. Downstairs, Cousin Kula open the main stage and we couldn’t be more proud. The guys have come a long way in a short period, and with their large set up, they are simply made to perform at this venue. Having seen them at their ‘What You Know’ single launch earlier in the week, the band continue the momentum of their rhythm infused instruments to newer audiences, delivering a near flawless performance.
So far so good at Dot to Dot as we return to The Fleece for another Bristol act, Keir. We’ve heard great things about the artist and our expectations are blown away with this full on performance. Entertaining, powerful and dominant, Keir’s gigantic voice stuns everyone into silence as he rocks the stage from left to right. Such fire, passion and desire, a breath of fresh to our eyes and ears.
A brief pause from the festival sees us are catching the FA Cup final action but following Chelsea’s disappointing display, we quickly shuffle back to the main event, entering SXW to see the stars of the moment The Big Moon. Fresh from their appearance at The Great Escape and acclaimed debut album under their belts, the female quartet are in top form as they play their grunge pop tunes to the audience. Feeling the vibes outdoors we go for some acoustic music at Brewdog. Filtering through the summer drinkers, we catch a glimpse of Natalie Holmes’ calm and composed set as she delivers a masterstroke of songwriting, vocal and charm. Arriving back to the boat of Thekla, TENDER take to the stage and in moments swoon everyone with their shimmering hooks as they display their most personal work to date. Next, we head to the Hy-Brasil Music Club to see Brighton four-piece Kudu Blue who’s flourishing blend of soul, jazz and electronic hooks create an upbeat atmosphere which got everyone dancing. However, what really got us was lead singer Clementine with her gorgeous voice hitting every note – taking a spot as one of the festival’s top highlights.
Reaching the last quarter (and shattered), we return to the Louisiana to catch London pop outfit Confidence Man, but not before some hard-hitting rock from Bristol trio Sœur, closing the bar stage with killer riffs and nail-biting songs that gives us the kick of energy we need. Upstairs ready for Confidence Man, and one of Big Jeff’s recommendations to go and see. Two people come on stage, faces covered up, dancing away as disco-funk beats ring around the room. We raise an eye brow but slowly begin to dance until two more people jump on stage, and from there the rest is history. Whether dating your boyfriend or wishing to have some bubblegum, lyrics aside it’s the disco-pop beats and funky dance moves that gets everyone in the room buzzing, as if there is a sense of confidence in the air. Either way, it certainly wins for most ‘out there’ performance at the festival.
With our confidence to the max, we rush off to the Bierkeller for one last performance, from Manchester group The Slow Readers Club. With the events that happened in their hometown, this was a fitting way to end the day on as the band deliver a set in honour of their city. Bold and experimental anthems, which call on The National at times serenade the audience as we all watch in awe to their emotional performance. As we tick off the last band on our list, we look back to what we have seen today and the spirit, organisation and overall performances at Dot to Dot this year has truly been on point.
Music brings everyone together, and Dot to Dot Festival was a fine representation of that. Same time next year!