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Dot to Dot 2019: Bristol leg of the festival celebrates women and guitar-led bands


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Dot to Dot: the Bristol leg. Infamous for music discovery, debauchery on the boat and watching Big Jeff's big ginger mop bobbing in the front row. 

This year was no different. Across multiple venues dotted around the city, small, up-and-coming and the big names gave us a bloody good show to remember. The standouts, though, it must be noted, were the female artists and guitar-led bands. Whoever said guitar music is dead is... well, dead themselves. And whoever said female artists aren't the best can shove it. Really. 

Pinky Pinky by Emily D'Souza

We kicked off proceedings with a well-needed dose of bitchy punk rock, courtesy of Pinky Pinky at The Louisiana. Despite issues actually getting into the venue itself (it's very small and D2D was VERY busy) and a slight hiccup in the lead singer/drummer getting stuck behind the crowds, the female three-piece brought sexy, bitchy and moody in slashing guitars and sultry vocals. While Man & The Echo riled up Rough Trade with witty back-and-forth, Phoebe Green prepared to suck up Thekla in her not-so-sugary, pink storm. Shuffling drums and indie synth-lines really got the party started, and the swathes of students rocked the boat. 

As afternoon tumbled into the evening, Alex Lahey rescued the pop-punk princesses with her trusty steed. Wielding her saxophone across the stage at SWX, Lahey came as one of the most pleasant surprises of the day. Her sardonic Aussie streak penetrated the revved-up singles from her 2019 album The Best of Luck Club making for a quick-fire 30-minute gut punch of guitar goodness. Shortly following Lahey's legacy was Swimming Girls - who, despite having the hooks and vocal heights, didn't quite hit the mark when engaging with her audience. While an easy and escapist listen, the ex-Bath students couldn't quite find common ground with their onlookers. 

Swimming Girls by Emily D'Souza

The Night Café took on the bustle of the O2 Academy while I stayed firmly put for the return of a Bristol pop prodigy. Lauren Aquilina lit up SWX with her home-grown lyrics about heartbreak, hardship and healing; dipping into her back-catalogue before her three-year hiatus and spinning some new moves with the addictive pop banger 'Psycho'. After chortling happy birthday to her uncle, stood in the crowd behind us, Lauren rounded out her set with a heartfelt thank you to her home city for their warm welcome back. 

Rushing across town to the Hy Brasil Music Club, I was hit by a wall of heat as Money For Rope flailed manically, frantically bashing keys and two individual drum kits with tongues wagging and foreheads sweating, guitars being ripped apart and mic stands used as expendable toys. Stood on the steps, I looked down upon the Melbourne five-piece serving a fuzzed-out set you couldn't help but rock your head to. 

Swim Deep by Emily D'Souza

There were two very different ends to Dot to Dot on Saturday. Either swaying to blissed-out electronics from the prolific Jordan Rakei or manoeuvring a viciously loving mosh pit and flinging bottles of (I hope) apple juice, courtesy of Swim Deep and Crystal Fighters. The former, Kiwi-cum-Aussie-cum-Londoner Rakei, played out the night at SWX with soulful beats in abundance; mellow, end-of-bank-holiday-bbq vibes we never knew we needed.

Meanwhile, British surf-rockers Swim Deep threw us headfirst in the deep end of their back-catalogue at the O2 Academy. 'She Changes the Weather', 'Honey' and 'King City' got the young millennials' tear ducts jerking and the older Gen-Z's slow-dancing in the middle of what should've been the sweaty pit. While Dream Wife packed out the upstairs bar area, Crystal Fighters took centre stage for a big summer blowout. Melodies that shone like July sunshine lit up the Academy, causing raucous mayhem amongst the crowd, and noodling electronics carried the final come-up to its inevitable euphoria. 

All in all, it was a day of immense highs, despite some minor organisational issues. As the festival grows year on year, the relaxed Bristolian style of management might need to adapt to accommodate the masses, but I firmly believe its heart will always remain. 

Lead Image Credit: Emily D'Souza

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