GFP were in Bristol for the annual Dot-to-Dot festival. Now in its sixth year the festival runs on consecutive days across Bristol, Nottingham and now Manchester. It has a history unearthing some real talent plus having a few already established acts on the bill. Naturally, we couldn’t all agree on who we wanted to see so we split up and headed for the various venues spread across the city, and with a good 12 hours of drinking to be done it was sure to be a long day. Anyway, here’s who I took a look at…
After taking a gander at the schedule I decide to sack off some of the ‘bigger’ names on the bill e.g. Wild Beasts and also rule out a trip out to the Anson Rooms as its just too damn far away, which is pretty annoying as I wanted to see Field Music but anyway, shit happens…
Apparently Gentleman’s Dub Club are stuck in traffic and their set is put back a few hours so first up it’s the The Agitator at the Thekla. The Agitator aka Derek Meins is an interesting proposition – The body of Peter Crouch, the look of a 50s postman and the lungs of Joe Cocker. He’s accompanied only by drums, relying on his vocal pyrotechnics to produce something that is unlike anything else I will hear all day. His primal set fuses 50s doo-wop with hip hop and although it begins to grate a bit after half an hour it’s an interesting start to the day, and after all surely the point of coming to something like Dot-to-Dot is to hear something a bit different?
Next up I head down to the Louisiana to check out Tripwires who I know literally nothing about. They play a reasonable set of Inspiral Carpets’ inspired shoegaze rock that reminds me of the Engineers. Then it’s on to The Cooler for the Ruby Suns who I am very much looking forward to seeing. However, the sound at the back of the room is terrible and the start of their set is plagued by technical problems. Even the usually glorious Cranberry fails to get the carnival started and I rapidly lose interest which is real shame, so I leave early to head down to The Fleece instead.
Having never been to The Fleece before I immediately decide it’s my favourite Bristol gig venue. It’s the perfect size and it’s easy to get to the bar. I manage to catch the end of Kirsty Almeida’s set and judging by the loud applause that greets the end of her final song and from what I have subsequently heard of her Spider EP I am kicking myself for not getting there earlier. Anyway, the main reason I’m there is to check out the rather wonderful Goldheart Assembly who are the act I’m looking forward to the most all day. They don’t disappoint. Having listened to their debut LP Wolves and Thieves a number of times their set is a winning blend of harmonies and folky pop. Lead single King of Rome is played early and has the crowd singing along and by the time they close to a rapturous reception with a storming Engraver’s Daughter only the very darkest of souls could have failed to have been charmed.
At this point I decide to pop back to the Thekla to catch Max McElligott aka Wolf Gang who after some last minute myspace investigation seems like an act worth checking out. Max and his backing band begin in front of a near-empty Thekla but it soon fills up and they play a thoroughly enjoyable set of intelligent David Byrne influenced funk-pop. If the soaring chorus of Nightflying is anything to go by then Wolf Gang may just be smarter than your average 80s revivalists’ bear.
Another last minute decision results in me staying to watch Norway’s CasioKids and I’m glad I do as they are a revelation. The good ship Thekla is soon turned into the scene for an electro-pop party of the highest order and even the fact that songs are sung in their native tongue doesn’t stop the place from bouncing. The party in the audience is more than matched by the band on stage as they swap instruments and pogo about with huge grins on their faces. Those crazy Scandinavians eh? Who would have thunk it? An already electric set is brought to a close with recent single, the frankly scintillating, Fot i Hose, which finds me leaping around on the balcony like a loon.
Lonelady is up next. I try to like her, I really do. But her emotionless performance after the joyous CasioKids just feels like hard work and I just can’t warm to her and her minimalist ways at all. After realising that I’ve already missed a couple of acts I wanted to see such as Lissie and Villagers I head back to The Fleece for Dan Sartain. For some reason he’s on earlier than advertised so I miss a chunk of his set. On another day I’d probably quite enjoy him but I find that he washes over me, so felling a little fatigued I head back to the Thekla Bar for Silver Columns who created a bit of a buzz with their not-too-shabby Brow Beaten single last year. Unfortunately despite my high hopes I find myself utterly bored after a couple of numbers. Maybe I’m just not in the mood or maybe they’re just rubbish. I’m not sure, so I head downstairs for Fenech-Soler. They are certainly well received but by the time they play the excellent Stop And Stare my enjoyment has been hampered by the number of teenage morons pushing their way to the front. On the plus side I seem to have developed powers of invisibility as numerous drunken cretins barge straight past or into me. I make a note to myself that I must try to use these newly acquired powers to my advantage somehow…After the 50th or so elbow to my ribcage I seek the sanctuary of the balcony.
Finally I stop off at The Academy where Zane Lowe is going down an absolute storm but sadly not being drunk means I feel no compulsion to join the sweaty throngs on the dancefloor so opt to call it a night instead.
Overall it’s a bit of a mixed bag musically. The Ruby Suns are a big letdown but CasioKids are a real find. Unfortunately clashes of stage times meant I don’t get to see everyone I want to but on the plus side I don’t encounter any queues at any of the venues and for the £20 I paid for an early-bird ticket I can’t really complain.