Live Review

Dot To Dot Festival 2011, Bristol

It’s a big day for Bristol.

It’s a big day for Bristol. Not only is Dot To Dot commandeering most of the city’s venues, but the annual Bristol Eco Veggie Fayre is in town as well. Needless to say, trying to decide which event to attend is a nightmare, but, after spending hours weighing up the two line-ups (Vegfest has Ms. Dynamite and Goldie Lookin’ Chain on the bill), Dot To Dot just about comes out on top.

The day begins upstairs at the Thekla, which is already rammed. This is probably because the wristband exchange is right outside, but it works out pretty favourably for the opening band, The Fan Jets. Nervous, unassuming and ridiculously young, their out-of-tune Velvet Underground-esque style of scruffy guitar pop is almost as charming as their on-stage mannerisms. Barely glancing at the crowd during songs and hardly speaking at all between them, the young three-piece are endearing and effortlessly cool.

Equally charming is Allie Moss, who’s on downstairs in Thekla’s main room. Although she’s best-known for her song ‘Corners’ (from the BT advert), she’s by no means a one-trick pony. Not only is her set jam-packed with gorgeous folk-tinged acoustic songs, she’s musically spot on, vocally flawless, and a total professional too. Whether asking the sound man to cut some “mid-lows from the monitor,” or momentarily pausing to allow a swell of feedback to subside, she’s confident and completely unflappable, keeping the attentive crowd wrapped around her little finger from the very first chord.

Over the river at The Louisiana, The Bronze Medal finish their set with the last of their harmony-laden, interesting songs. Returning to Thekla, the venue is surprisingly empty as Niki & The Dove set up and carry out line checks, but it soon fills up. With tracks like ‘Mother Nature’ and ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ up their Scandinavian sleeves, the crowd soon warms to their pulsating, ethereal electronic pop. Being cut off by the sound man halfway through final track ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ probably wasn’t the finale they had hoped for, but they take it with good humour.

Arriving at the Anson Rooms ten minutes before Dananananaykroyd are due to start, the people there could be counted on one hand. Nevertheless, the Glaswegian six-piece bound on stage with typical aplomb and burst into an explosive set that has more energy than every other band playing combined. Anybody who thought it might turn out to be a slightly tame set when singer John tells the crowd that he’s been ‘told not to climb on anything’ needn’t have worried - there’s nothing dull about this whatsoever. Undoubtedly the best performance of the day.

Later at the O2 Academy it’s a bit strange to see a band of We Are Scientists’ stature being cramped around the headliners’ equipment. If it wasn’t for the stage set up, there’d be no way of telling they’re not top of the bill tonight. There’s little doubt that the energetic crowd (which probably has an average age of fifteen) is there to see them, and aren’t just waiting around for headliners Hurts. However, despite all of the energy, and with the obvious exception of ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’, their set feels a little flat.

Arriving at The Fleece in plenty of time for Guillemots, there’s forty-five minutes of standing around before the band emerge to several reserved cheers. They take a little while to get into their stride, and it’s not really until ‘Made Up Lovesong #43’ that the crowd seem to fully warm to the band. Once they settle down, though, Guillemots are tighter than two coats of paint. ‘Trains To Brazil’ is a highlight of the set, seeing the band at their most dynamic, while ‘I Don’t Feel Amazing Now’ begins with just Dangerfield singing and playing keyboard alone, giving his soulful voice a chance to cut through the mix. It’s a tight, polished and heartfelt set, but for some reason the majority of the crowd just don’t seem to be in the mood for it. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a lot of the people there turned up to hear Fyfe Dangerfield’s cover of ‘Always A Woman’. And they might have done, had anyone called for an encore, but nobody does - resulting in a strangely subdued end to the day’s proceedings.

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