Dot To Dot Festival @ various venues across Bristol (23 May 2015)
I'd never really been around Bristol before attending the tenth edition of Dot To Dot Festival, which has grown from its Nottingham beginnings into a triplet of offerings in its existing home, Manchester, and Bristol. Despite a relative lack of knowledge geographically, I managed to make my way across several venues, catching a series of upcoming acts.
First up was VANT in the intriguing setting of Thekla - a boat on the riverside, handily placed right by the wristband exchange. In what is a festival rarity, the quartet are ready to play a full eight minutes ahead of schedule. One practice song and a loo break later, they actually start a couple of minutes late. Their visceral tunes have perhaps surprisingly (but in a good way) made it onto BBC Radio 1 already, and their live set backs up the hype.
With VANT delivering a strong start to my festival, I then inevitably got lost on the way to the O2 Academy. (The festival map provided is absolutely terrible.) I got there in time to catch the last few songs of Seafret's set downstairs in Academy 1 before heading upstairs for AOSOON in the Academy 2. Which was much smaller than expected but even in the intimate surroundings, the duo seemed slightly nervous - a shame considering their electronic-infused folk is actually quite engaging.
An artist with more confidence was Rhodes, joined by a live band which included his album producer James Kenosha on drums, whose dynamism drove a heartfelt set downstairs in the venue. Back upstairs, Liverpudlian Louis Berry et al delivered a raucous selection of tunes. Fans of Jake Bugg, take note.
Prides took the stage downstairs a good twenty minutes late, and made the wait seem like a blessing. Technical problems and a bizarrely hysterical response to the situation meant that this was quite literally the worst festival performance I've ever seen. They did seem more sincerely apologetic after the fact at least.
After a considerable walk through some arguably dubious sections of Bristol, I found myself at the rather pleasant setting of Trinity Church. The much talked about Hinds (formerly Deers) brought a party spirit with them, although insisted on false finishes on most of their songs - something that became rapidly tiresome. Another fellow all-female offering Honeyblood followed upstairs, and their lo-fi rock proved to be the surprising highlight of the day. Little wonder they've been asked to support Foo Fighters in their native Scotland.
I caught a bit of The Wytches psych-rock (which seems to go down well enough with the downstairs crowd) before I headed to the Fleece for Amber Run. Swaggering frontman Joe Keogh came across as somewhat arrogant but his brazen confidence may yet be justified as the band continue their quest to match the anthemic pop of Coldplay and Mumford & Sons. A suitable end to an enjoyable first Dot To Dot - another fine UK festival that celebrates new music.
Find more info at dottodotfestival.co.uk.