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Festival review: Dot To Dot Bristol 2018

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Dot to Dot is a giant of the Indie Festivals; the hive of upcoming artists, winning the Best Festival For Emerging Talent in 2017. As it’s a day Metropolitan Festival, artists utilised over 15 of Bristol’s most loved venues throughout the day, including The Fleece, Rough Trade, Thekla and O2 Academy.

They have previously hosted and provided exposure for artists that have since played for thousands, including Ed Sheeran, 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Florence and The Machine, Ellie Goulding and Years and Years. It’s great for those who want to have seen the bands ‘before they got popular’. Despite the end to the glorious British ‘summer’ weather, Dot to Dot brought vibrance to Bristol. Each artist, apart from headliners, was allocated a half an hour set in their venue, with artists performing until 3am.

We wanted to explore as many different venues as we could, fitting in the artists that we wanted to see too. First, we headed to Thekla to catch George Glew’s set. Thekla is one of Bristol’s most infamous venues – an old converted boat. Glew’s set was impressive; a soulful, rich and sometimes gravelly voice paired with dreamy electric guitar chord progressions set a precedence of talent for the rest of the day. Next, we decided to check out The Louisiana, a pub with a small room upstairs. Their ‘claim to fame’ was James Bay playing there on his 2014 Tour! Here, we stumbled across a hidden gem, Oscar Jerome, with a captivating performance and unique sound. His most popular song, ‘Give Back What You Stole From Me’, gives a sample of his jazz and hip hop fusion; with jazz saxophone, drums, scatting, distorted electric guitar solos and synths, Jerome put on a impressive, funky, multi-textured performance.

Later in the day, we saw two artists at SWX – KAWALA and The Kite String Tangle. KAWALA were one of my favourite artists, with their endearing self-depreciating humour, furthering the intimacy that SWX Room 2 provided us with. They had an eclectic mix of acoustic, electric and bass, paired with harmonies throughout, with a Mumford and Sons kind of vibe. Their set was radiant with energy and genuine enjoyment and laughter; they had everyone dancing. They made fun of their Indie-band name, making light of the lead's dyslexia and how the name came about, starting one of their songs with "This one is for the dyslexics!" The audience felt at ease with their humour. As an alternative electronic artist, The Kite String Tangle's performance was effortlessly cool. His mesmerising performance of ‘Selfish’, paired emotive tone and lyrics “From the moment I met you I was selfish” with simultaneous electronic production and synths. He also won over the crowd with his remix of ‘Praise You’ by Fatboy Slim. His lyrics and electronic instrumentals were emotionally transcendent. One of the best things about the festival was its variety of performance styles and venues, the styles differed so much from place to place. It was really exciting not knowing to expect wherever you went.

After flying visits to The Louisiana and SWX, we made our way to the O2 Academy, which housed the festival’s headliners. The first act was Turnover, who matched their mellow, laid-back, semi-psychedelic rock sound with their performance. ‘Something Supernatural’ was well received, but it was both surprising and disappointing that they didn’t play ‘Cutting My Fingers Off’, arguably their best-known song. Pale Waves, a Manchester born band that have exploded onto the indie scene recently, brought their 1975-esque indie pop sound to the academy, which was a great set and energetic performance, despite lead singer Baron-Gracie’s questionable dancing. Lastly, we caught the headliner, The Horrors, only managing to catch the first 15 minutes before leaving to get a train. Unfortunately for the band, the lead singer Badwan’s microphone wasn’t working for the first few songs. They still carried on which was commendable, but what was seen of their performance was ultimately underwhelming.

By the end of the day, our feet were aching from all the to and froing between venues, but it was definitely worth it. Due to the nature of a day festival, there were a lot of artists crammed into one day. Dot to Dot is a great festival for not only discovering new talent, but for sampling the music scenes of Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham over its three days.

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