Dot to Dot 2016 @ Bristol, 28/05/2016

Dot to Dot 2016The initiative of Dot to Dot’s traveling festival has always been to showcase the variety of its three partaking cities. From acoustic sets in The Christmas Steps pub to nationally celebrated bands at the O2 Academy, Bristol's Dot to Dot 2016 includes a wide range of genres and talent. But despite headline sets from Mystery Jets and The Temper Trap, it’s the newer artists who are the main focus of the weekend.

The O2 Academy, by far the largest and most commercial venue participating in Dot to Dot 2016 in Bristol, keeps a steady sized audience throughout the day, all eager to see some of the music industry's current premier acts. Brooklyn’s Augustines travel across the pond for the occasion, while BBC Radio One scamp Rat Boy takes a step up from small-time notoriety to nationwide stardom. This year’s headline set is delivered by modern indie veterans Mystery Jets, who are undertaking something of a victory lap following their career-defining 6th album Curve of the Earth, released earlier this year. Reluctant to indulge the demographically mixed audience in too much nostalgia, the band perform an even number of songs both old and new. Opening with the the broodingly beautiful “Telomere”, they prove that the Curve of the Earth tracks are the most sonically accomplished songs they have ever written. “Midnight Mirror” and “Bubblegum” impress and keep the crowd engaged, but predictably it’s mid-00s classics “Two Doors Down” and “Serotonin” that prompt the biggest reaction. Full of emotion and vigor, Mystery Jets have progressed into something far greater than they ever were, while retaining their credibility and relevance from their humble beginnings over a decade ago.

Boat-venue Thekla strives as being the go-to place this festival, housing buzz bands such as Liss, Night Beats and Diet Cig to name a few. But none are more beloved than Manchester’s Spring King, who perform to a tumultuous crowd ahead of their debut album Tell Me If You Like To, released next week. Towards the end, singing drummer Tarek Musa takes a quick break from sitting behind his kit to take photo of the audience, overwhelmed by the turn out. Spring King have come a long way since Zane Lowe opened the first ever Beats1 radio show with their track “City”, and tonight proves them to be anything but one-hit wonders. The only problem with Musa’s seated vocals is that, with no frontman as such, the band perform the entire set almost completely still - not quite Oasis but definitely not The Stooges either. Regardless, Tell Me If You Like To cuts “Detroit” and “Rectifier” ignite this already lively crowd, while recent single “Who Are You” justifies Spring King’s position as the most hype-worthy band of the weekend.

Across the Old Market roundabout, The Exchange and The Stag and Hounds suffer attendance issues from being outside of the city centre. Audiences either dedicate their entire day to staying up this end of town, or only make the trek to see a specific act, which leaves several lesser known bands at a loss. Despite this, Bath newcomers Farebrother conjure a good performance in The Exchange, playing songs from their one-day old Rapture EP. Frontman Tom Hunt is full of charisma as he leads the indie rock group through a confident and professional set.

Over in The Lanes, a bowling alley-cum-bar and possibly Bristol’s weirdest venue, Ghost of the Avalanche front man Nick Wilton ponders his performance stability on an unnecessarily slippery stage floor. “I reckon four songs and then I’m going on my ass”, he tells me moments before the set. Luckily Wilton causes no such spectacle, and the two-piece punk band deliver an obstreperous set that shakes the very foundations of the old building. Introducing themselves as “Ghost of the Avalanche, not Royal Blood," Wilton and attention-commanding drummer Miles Pereira hammer their way through a bass-heavy set that has more in common with OFF! and Death From Above 1979 than the aforementioned Worthing duo. The band are entertaining throughout, incorporating self-aware humour into a genre that can sometimes be accused of taking itself too seriously. A mid-set suite of four songs all clocking in at under a minute each gets a particularly positive audience response, while calls for a Napalm Death cover are brushed off by the band as being “too tame." The Frome based band may not be on the radar of any major labels, but they deliver one of the most impressive and enjoyable sets of the day.

Benefiting from being the venue closest to the city centre, Start The Bus also boasts a strong line up of emerging talent, with White Room, The Jaques and Haus all on the bill. Taking to the stage at quarter to midnight, Brighton’s White Room take audiences into after party mode. Live staples “Freaking On” and “You’ll See” find the group channeling 70s psych rock, while new single “Think Too Much” mixes 60s space pop with lairy football chants via the Happy Mondays’ baggy swagger. Unfortunately the swirling psychedelic guitar of Jacob Newman is lost somewhat in the mix, but James Bryman keeps the audience moving with his walking funky bass lines. Though still too young to drink in America, frontman Jake Smallwood exudes a confidence that implies he was born to perform, engaging enthusiastically with the audience while rocking a tambourine throughout.

Once again Bristol benefits from Dot to Dot’s attraction, bringing attention to the smaller bands and independent venues who have certainly earned it. In the era of talent show #1's and TV box set marathons, an entire day of overwhelming musical performances feels like something British culture needs, if perhaps not what we deserve.


2 Responses to “Dot to Dot 2016 @ Bristol, 28/05/2016”

  1. Francisco security 23/12/2016 at 12:20 pm #

    thank you for sharing


  1. Dot to Dot Festival 2016 – Stan Bull - 14/06/2016

    […] Recently I attended Dot to Dot Festival in Bristol on behalf of DrunkenWerewolf. Read my full review here. […]

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