- Wed, 2010-06-02 14:36
Having put on current big-hitters such as The xx, Marina and the Diamonds and Mumford & Sons before they broke into the big time, Dot to Dot festival always promises to deliver a bevy of hot new bands in addition to some carefully chosen established acts. Stopping at Nottingham, Bristol, and this year Manchester, May 29th-31st saw the event enjoy its biggest and best year yet.
I Like Music went west and took in eight of the best at the Bristol leg of the festival…
Saturday May 29th
4.30 Thekla – The Cheek
The Cheek, formally Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds, take to the stage of the city’s club-on-a-boat and throw themselves straight into a set of funky yet brooding indie. Combining beguiling melodies with menacing undercurrents, recent single Hung Up is the jewel in an impressive crown. Blessed with not just one but a pair of impressively skilled guitarists as well as a lead singer who oozes charisma, the intense vigour of the band’s performance is a treat to witness.
5.30 The Anson Rooms – Chapel Club
A sparsely populated Anson Rooms welcomes the dour rock of Chapel Club. Frontman Lewis hardly moves, but somehow exudes a quiet gravitas as he delivers his Morrissey-inflected utterances over songs that ebb and flow from calm seas to raging storms. The relatively new band already have a fine clutch of tunes to their name, and with an album in the pipeline they look well placed to emulate the success of fellow doom-pop outfit White Lies, compared to whom they can boast an added degree of inventiveness.
6.30 The Cooler - White Hinterland
As one of the smaller venues on today’s trail, the intimacy of The Cooler lends itself well to White Hinterland’s music. Composed of Shawn, who makes beats, and Casey, who sings and plays keys and ukulele, the pair create a softly ethereal sound that occupies ground somewhere between jj and the less experimental side of Bjork. The most striking aspect of the performance has to be Casey’s beautiful voice, which she layers with a looping-pedal to build swirling, brittle harmonies.
7.15 The O2 Academy – Wild Beasts
Lit solely by a faint blue light, Wild Beasts create a low thrum on their assorted instruments before Hayden Thorpe begins proceedings with the off-kilter bass intro of This Is Our Lot. The unsettling majesty of last year’s Two Dancers album is faithfully recreated on stage, with the full drama of the band’s sound coming into its awe-inspiring own as parts one and two of the title track are played back-to-back. The final two songs of the set, Devil’s Crayon and Hooting and Howling, showcase first Tom’s and then Hayden’s equally remarkable vocal talents particularly effectively. Individually arresting, together they are nothing short of stunning.
8.30 Thekla – Casiokids
Some bands are destined to shine their brightest on stage, and Casiokids, whose recorded music is enjoyable if unremarkable, seem to be one such group. Within seconds of taking to the stage the room is transformed from milling crowd to rowdy party. The band are clearly having a huge amount of fun, a fact which elevates the music and spills over into the audience, who they have eating out of their hands. They close their set with a raucous rendition of Fot I Hose, which sees an extended percussive breakdown during the course of which the band members all swap instruments, playing ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to decide who should return to what. A thoroughly elating spectacle.
9.45 The O2 Academy 2 – fun.
It’s a dangerous gamble to adopt the name fun., but it turns out to be extremely apt for this New York act who play sugary indie-pop with a sting in its tail. The various members of the live band pinball around the cramped stage with the energy of a small hurricane, while charismatic singer Nate fixes the crowd with a determined glare and belts out his vocals. They have a tough slot, going on a short while before Mystery Jets are due to arrive in the main room downstairs, but the passion with which they perform stops minds or punters from wandering elsewhere.
10.15 The O2 Academy – Mystery Jets
The biggest band on the festival’s roster, Mystery Jets put on the accomplished performance that one would expect of them. They open with the dual salvo of new song Flash A Hungry Smile and old favourite Half In Love With Elizabeth. It signals the start of a set that has more huge pop hooks in just over an hour than many bands write in their whole career. The audience dance and sing along to tune after tune, with particular enthusiasm shown for Two Doors Down and new single Dreaming of Another World. Things build to a climax in Behind The Bunhouse, with guitarist William climbing onto the bass drum in true rock and roll style before things come to a glorious, crashing end.
11.30 Thekla – Washed Out
Current young pretender to the crown of the dubiously named chillwave movement, Washed Out packs Thekla to the rafters with a crowd that counts both Wild Beasts and Chapel Club amongst its number. Starting off alone behind his various music-making gizmos, the first portion of the show fails to conjure the excitement that Ernest Greene’s music promises. Fortunately he is joined before too long by the members of Small Black, with whose help the pulsing rhythms and fleeting melodies come to life. The show comes to a close with the ghostly bounce of Feel It All Around, which leaves the audience craving more as its final bars fade away.