United Kingdom | by
Ben Rust |
01 June 2010
We sent Ben Rust to check out the Bristol leg of the Dot To Dot Festival. Here's how he got on...
Overall – 7/10
An excellent line-up of indie heavy hitters, critically lauded cult concerns and bands you’ve only heard mentioned in the overheard conversations of cooler people, duke it out across 10 Bristol venues but with late running times/band clashes/venues up hills, that sometime feel like dales, Dot to Dot can at times be a mathematical and metatarsal strain. However, charged with Brothers Cider and flashes of sunshine, the crowd throw themselves into this debauched trot through some of your favourite bands and some of your new favourite bands. It doesn’t always work but when it does it’s excellent.
Getting there and back – 7/10
Great rail, road and bus links make this one of the easiest journeys to a festival you’re likely to have all summer. The big downfall however is the early stopping times of these great bus and rail links, around about headliner time, which means many faced a choice between heading home and missing bands they’d waited all day for, or staying and ending up sleeping on a bench. Hotels, hostels, a friend’s sofa or trying to pick up someone up in a kebab shop at 4am are all highly recommended.
The site – 7/10
10 stages, 8 venues and quite a distance between them make this long day of walking and planning your next move. The Thekla, a Bristol institution, seems to be an unofficial hub for the festival and is rammed all day with appreciative crowds eating up sets from the likes of Sharks and Peggy Sue. The Anson Rooms, about as far away from the Thekla as you can be while still being in Bristol, is served by shuttle buses and the rest, The Cooler, The Louisiana and O2 Academy are well spaced apart but near enough to walk without too many gripes.
Atmosphere – 8/10
While the distance between venues means you don’t get the full on “Indie Takeover” feel of the likes of the Camden Crawl, everywhere you look people are smiling even when stoically queuing in great British tradition. Inside the atmosphere is charged with nervous anticipation. Each new band sees the venues breathe a flood of people out in search of their next music fix while sucking in a new lot too. This constant flow gives the whole thing a sense of fun urgency. As day becomes night this urgency builds and by the time Tomb Crew come on at the O2 Academy everyone is in full hedonistic flow and the place goes off with this built up energy.
Music – 7/10
If you read the NME there’s plenty to love here. If you like your electro wonky with lashings of guitars you were covered. Pretty much if you’ve got ears and like using them to listen, Dot to Dot had your back. There were 60 odd bands knocking about, most new, some established, some good and some awful, ahem, you, yes you, Scarlet Rascal And The Trainwreck.
Liars – 8/10
Liars are a hard sell; their brand of post-dance-punk-glorious-noise is almost abrasive on first listen but live they are a revelation. Lead singer Angus Andrew romps around the stage swinging mics about, dancing like a man possessed, skipping the mic lead all while bellowing into it with gleeful abandon. It’s like this New York based three-piece have taken in the best punk, garage rock, effects driven electro soundscapes and then spewed it back out in their own dark image. A truly exciting, challenging, raucous, experimental, fun and funny set turns into one of the highlights of the day.
Wild Beasts – 8/10
The darlings of critics everywhere, Kendal’s Wild Beasts put on a polished, accomplished performance in the O2, they have really matured from some of their festival sets last summer. The set is tighter and the swagger looser. The likes of ‘Taste Dancing on Our Tongues’ and ‘Hooting and Howling’ are dispatched to an appreciative crowd and the band look like the stars they were developing into last year. Their music is a bit left of centre but always incredibly catchy, and it doesn’t matter how often you’ve seen them, Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto yelps still bring a judder of excitement every time they kick in and really help set Wild Beasts apart.
Wax Fang – 6/10
Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Wax Fang are unashamedly over the top mix of classic southern rock sensibilities, prog influences, Slash like guitar solos and a Theremin. The first thought is they sound a bit like old time singer songwriters of the wet variety. Then the massive dirty southern riffs kick in, the drummer comes over like Animal from the Muppets and frontman Scott Carney starts doing things with a Theremin that makes your jeans vibrate. Like a modern Allman Brothers they go into long jams and occasionally stray dangerously close to parody territory. To be fair to them, the drummer dropped and lost his drumsticks a couple of times leading to the other two plodding on while he scrabbled about looking for them, maybe they’re tight as you like normally.
Fol Chen – 5/10
A packed out Cooler welcome’s L.A’s Fol Chen as they launch themselves straight into their electro-fringed ravey indie. A stack of influences layered upon each other to make a wall of propulsive beats, the occasional guitar line, cheesy happy keyboards and vocals low in the mix get the crowd on side but it never really takes off. All the ingredients for an amazing set are there but they don’t quite gel to a coherent whole, maybe that’s the point.
The Agitator – 4/10
Two men, one with a crooning voice with hints of Motown in it, one with a drum set, add a maraca, a finely coffered quiff and an earnest political agenda and you’ve got The Agitator. It’s a shame because Derek Meins really can sing but in this format he comes across as hectoring.
Running everywhere and running late…
The day didn’t start well, with the expectant crowd at Thekla being told that Gentlemen’s Dub Club were stuck in traffic and would miss their show and the set times just went downhill from there. It’s a given that times will change, bands will overrun, but it still doesn’t help the crowd having to make difficult choices about hanging around for a late band or leaving to try and catch one across town that could be on time.
Drunken high five man in the O2 during Tomb Crew, High five! Lidl Noel Fielding.
Seeing a man with red marker pen all over his face trying to talk his way into the O2 was a delight, “No, no that wouldn’t happen, that’d never happen.” was his refrain when informed he had been turned away once and had simply swapped jackets before trying again. Maybe it’s the red marker pen that’s the slight give away.
Also, bumping into Wax Fang later in the evening and asking the drummer what had happened with his drumsticks…
Him: “They’re slippery things.”
Me: “What? Sticks?”
Him: “Yeah man, drum sticks are slippery.”
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