Dot to Dot Bristol 2019 @ Bristol, 25/05/2019

Angie McMahon @ Dot to Dot Bristol 2019Most experienced fans attended an inner city music festival expect to spend a lot of time racing from one location to another. Or not, depending on how motivated they are to see the next act. Dot to Dot Bristol 2019 has made the experience a lot easier by limiting this year's activity to one square mile. This means no more sprinting from Anson Rooms to Trinity Centre, creating more of a hub around focal venue Thekla and neighbouring impromptu BBQ hive, Queens Square. For the past few years competing festival Love Saves the Day has also been banished to Eastville, which makes for a more pleasurable walking experience between acts. Bristol on 25th May 2019 is less regional Times Square invaded by mad hippies, and more respectable types at a vinyl nerd convention. Less fun, but definitely more conducive to manoeuvring yourself at great speed.

...And so we manage to close a 10 minute gap between Pinky Pinky's set at Fleece and No Violet at SWX, and it's a good thing, too. The Los Angeles trio are loud and entertaining, but like many guitar bands on stage at the beginning of the day, they're cursed by a small audience that doesn't want to participate.

No Violet on the other hand invite half of Bristol to descend on the darkened hall of SWX and act as a great introduction to the day proper. It might as well be midnight as Ellie Godwin's vocal howls over the venue's sound system. The quartet's songwriting is getting stronger and despite delivering an accomplished half hour set with few pauses to talk, there are calls for more. Hosting such a burgeoning band clearly spells out Dot to Dot Bristol 2019's mission to celebrate local acts as much as it exposes international talent.

We stick around SWX for Alex Lahey but few others do; the edgy BIMM crowd that turned out for No Violet dissipates to make way for college kids and their parents. The punk pop artist recently released The Best of Luck Club to general acclaim, and its no surprise her mainstream sound appeals to a younger audience. We can't help but crave a ray of sunlight to accompany her Melbourne charm, as the club night atmosphere of SWX unfortunately dampens the spirit of the show. Lahey keeps the energy up by fearlessly bounding across strewn wires, but it's not enough to resonate. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy an outdoor performance later in the summer.

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Evening gigs can be popular at Dot to Dot, but having already resolved to cram in as many new music treats as possible, we head over to Fleece without much concern for queues. Bristol band Wasuremono teeter on the edge of 'local' having also performed at the Nottingham and Manchester leg of the festival, but their home crowd welcomes them with open arms all the same. This lot are more raucous and at times we wonder if the music playing really matters to 40% of those in attendance - stale vodka sloshes out of all-too-obvious 'water bottles' and some of the dance moves are unique to say the least. On the other hand, Wasuremono are hands down the most disco ball of the festival and new songs "Are You Okay?" and "Self Help" are catchy in a way that recalls The Polyphonic Spree and early Arcade Fire. This band are definitely a takeaway experience and ones to watch over the coming few months.

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They're not the best performance of Dot to Dot Bristol 2019, however. That title belongs to Angie McMahon, who brings our day to an end with a headline set at The Louisiana. Having experienced crowds of varying degrees, it's a relief to find shelter at the Louie, which always manages to retain a sense of itself no matter what's going on outside. It's also the perfect venue for McMahon, who's on the brink of something really special. She's already played a set in London this afternoon, and claims to be totally knackered, but there's no indication of it effecting her performance. Bolted between charming and aloof conversations with the audience, songs like "Pasta" and "Slow Mover" are delivered in the Australian's gorgeous, deep vocal paired with a howling guitar. She's hands down the best performance of the day and as we leave contented, the air is electric with success.

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