- Wed, 2011-06-08 16:09
For anyone who wants to see all of tomorrow’s biggest bands – plus a clutch of today’s – in one place, without breaking the bank, Dot to Dot Festival is the place to go. Taking over assorted venues in Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester for one day each, this year’s line up was as impeccable as ever. I Like Music headed along to the Bristol leg on Saturday 28th May. This is what we saw…
David’s Lyre, The Louisiana
David’s Lyre open our day. Their sound is sophisticated; a rich mixture of textures and tones that recalls Wild Beasts in its elegant subtlety. Alongside guitar, bass and drums the band are armed with a horde of keyboards, from which they tease these various moods, but it is lead singer Paul Dixon who provides the real body of the songs. His guitar sounds like Jeff Buckley’s and his voice like Rufus Wainwright’s, and when the swathes of sound on occasion fall away to leave him unaccompanied they reveal the fundamentally simple and classic songs underneath.
Fixers O2, Academy 2
Oxfordians Fixers announce themselves to an absolutely rammed Academy 2 with the harmonised vocal intro of Another Lost Apache. The illusion that we are about to bare witness to a British Fleet Foxes is quickly dismissed as the song morphs into high-energy indie-pop. The band play with conviction, particularly effervescent frontman Jack Goldstein, but the intricacy and psychedelic flourish of their recorded music is somewhat lost in its live incarnation. A sense of the epic comes through from time to time, but it isn’t until the final bars of set-closer Passages Love Action – group-chants and imposing tom-toms – that their potency really makes itself felt.
The Naked And Famous, O2 Academy
Downstairs on the main stage The Naked And Famous are met by an eager and sizeable crowd. Built around driving rhythms and anthemic dual vocals, their songs move from tense lows to euphoric highs, sounding like MGMT might if they’d concentrated on pop. Joint vocalists Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith are an excellent combination, the former throwing rock-star poses with his guitar while the latter charms with a quiet confidence. The crowd love every minute, particularly stand-out single Young Blood, which has everyone singing along.
Hot Horizons, The Louisiana
Hot Horizons are in the unfortunate position of competing with the Champion’s League Final for the festival-goers’ attention. They don’t come out on top, but the handful of punters that do show up are treated to a series of delicately-constructed tunes that recall a contemplative Grizzly Bear. Keyboards and sample pads join the drums and guitar to create a mood that is woozy and hypnotic, with every note seeming to hang off the rich, charismatic tones of lead-singer Jake McCarthy. The confidence and beauty of the performance deserves a much bigger crowd; keep an eye out for this lot.
Trophy Wife, Thekla (Downstairs)
Members of Oxford’s musical collective Blessing Force (alongside Jonquil and Chad Valley, amongst others) Trophy Wife stretch sparse melody-lines over funky beats and bass to make music that has the fidget of Foals and the slinky hips of Friendly Fires. Tonight they bring that brew to the stage of Thekla, from whence their looping rhythms and staccato guitars get the crowd moving. Though the band are mostly static during the set, Kit Monteith occasionally springs from behind his curious drum kit (it looks like a cross between a small organ and a book-shelf!) and jumps off the stage for a quick dance. His spontaneous bouts of itchy feet are a fitting expression of the music’s tense energy.
Is Tropical, Thekla (Upstairs)
Live, the pulsing indie-electro of Is Tropical always takes on a more anarchic, punk edge. It helps that they play wearing battered leather jackets, with bandanas hiding their faces and in pitch black – apart from flickering images projected on a back wall – but it’s mostly because of the sheer force with which they tear into each tune. Tonight’s set is relatively short as sound-issues delay the start, but buoyed up by the energy of the crowd, who sing along to virtually every song, the boys ignore the venue’s order to finish up and manage to squeeze in a couple more tracks anyway.
Cults, The Louisiana
Cults have been huge online favourites over the last twelve months, and Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion’s headline slot at The Louisiana is met with a crush of expectant bodies. The duo (plus backing band) kick off with new single Abducted, showcasing their blend of sweet melodies and toe-tapping beats. It’s a combination that prevails throughout, the lively pace of the songs preventing their cuteness from becoming too twee. Guitarist/singer Oblivion spends much of the time hiding behind his mane of hair, but singer Follin is a confident and watchable frontwoman. The crowd reaction to Go Outside and Oh My God is particularly warm, but the entire set goes down extremely well, and deservedly so.
Having spent the day in the company of indie bands of one sort or another, we dedicate the night to DJs. Hyetal, SBTRKT and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs keep us entertained for the remainder of Dot To Dot 2011, with the latter’s bubbly electro beats, extravagant outfit and dancing backing-dinosaurs proving particularly enjoyable.