Dot to Dot, for those who don't know, is a day long festival that takes place in Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester, and is generally about showcasing new talent, with a couple of more established acts thrown in for good measure.
This is one of those indoor-at-multiple-venue type events, which was rather handy as the British summer time was most definitely not playing ball. This was my fourth Dot to Dot, and so I therefore considered myself to be something of a veteran of this particular festival. I also know most of Bristol's venues intimately and this only increased my cocksure attitude. Then the Gods of Fate struck me down. Just as i was getting ready to leave my house i smashed a glass and, as I was walking around barefoot, proceeded to step on a rather large shard that embedded itself deep within my big toe. This actually turned out to be an interesting reviewers tool; If i felt no pain, the band were great, if it started to hurt, then I knew they weren't.
The first band on my agenda were Bristol locals Idles. I have seen them on a number of occasions and even played with them a couple of times, so I knew what I was in for - a mix up of post-punk and new-wave, sort of like Pylon or Gang of Four, fronted by a happy Ian Curtis, with a side helping of facial hair. Anyway, they tore the place down. It was high energy throughout, and the Cooler was the busiest I'd seen it for a day time show.
After this (and a few well timed beers in the park), we wondered over to the Academy for FNBT (Folks Next Big Thing) Lucy Rose. I had heard quite a buzz about this girl but unfortunately it was totally unfounded. All her songs merged into one plinky, high-voiced snoozefest, and I could tell I was getting bored because my bloody toe started to throb like crazy.
We retreated back to the Cooler for Two Wounded Birds, who were essentially like a male fronted Best Coast, only not quite as good.
As we left the Cooler and started to make our way over to the Fleece for Jake Bugg, the heavens opened and the rain came down and began to soak into my shoes. We reached the Fleece to be confronted by a sizeable queue, this didn't faze me though as I had a queue-jumping wrist band, courtesy of the Don't Panic dollar. So, much to the annoyance of my friends, I gloated my way past them and into the Fleece, where I caught the last song of Beth Jeans Houghton's set. Luckily my crew made it in just as Jake Bugg was starting, and lucky for them that they did, because he was fantastic. At only 19 years old, his was a set of accomplished song writing delivered with confidence. He sounded like Alex Turner doing a Bob Dylan impression. And while he heavily leans on the Dylan influence, his set sounded enough like himself to be truly great. This kid is one to look out for.
On leaving the Fleece, we discovered that the Bristol monsoon season had started. We ran to the nearest shelter and found some fellow festival goers smoking a ghetto spliff at the bus stop. We had a quick chat and they told me about some of the bands they had seen, Bastille and Kyla La Grange were both talked of positively, but hey, at an event like this, you can't do it all.
As we were running to Start The Bus for Islet, the Gods of Fate struck me down once more and as i was sprinting full pelt, i fell squarely on my ass. To add insult to injury, a fat guy walked around the corner just as it happened, laughed at me, and called me a cunt. My so called friends were obviously crying with laughter and termed it karma for my queue jumping powers.
Getting back to the point, Islet were absolutely the stand out stars of the entire evening. They are, however, quite a hard band to describe using just words. Post-everything eclectic noise rock? That doesn't really do them justice. Anyway, the show that these guys (and girl) put on was thrilling; dancey but heavy, energetic and just plain weird. They were constantly swapping instruments, bassist switching to drums, singer to percussion, and were the perfect mix of chaotic and tight. After listening to them on record, there really is no comparison, whoever you are, you have to see this band live.
My final stop for the night was the floating den of sin and filth, the Thekla. As I arrived, I saw the last half a set of Odd Future offshoot The Internet. Comprised of rapper/singer Syd tha Kid, and her producer Left Brain, they do a sort of edgy yet smooth RnB comparable to stuff like The Weeknd. As a fan of OFWGKTA I was interested to see how her stuff compared. Short answer, it didn't. However, the kids were jumping around so maybe it was good and I just didn't get it. All I knew is that my foot started to hurt.
The final act I caught, also at the Thekla, were Brooklyn uber-scenesters Friends. Their glittery funk-wave was a great way to dance out any left over energy we had, and whilst I don't see them breaking any new ground, Friends were great fun, especially the girl on the bass, who was firing out some brilliantly fuzzy, elasticated lines, and was nailing the whole thing down along with the drummer.
When I first saw the line up of this Dot to Dot I was pretty ambivalent, as I have seen some truly excellent bands at this festival in the past. However, this has to go down as one of the best for me, just for the discovery of new favourites like Islet and Jake Bugg. I guess the point of festivals like these is to showcase new talent, and for me this year, Dot to Dot definitely delivered.