In Photos: Dot to Dot Bristol
Festivals, the weekend-long descent into drug-fuelled anarchy, are one of the staple features of this country’s summer. The typical scene consists of swarms of half-naked girls sprayed with mud and your best friends getting casually crushed under ten layers of sweaty men in the middle of a mosh pit. But who would want all that malarkey when you can stay in your hometown and see all your favourite bands in a single day?
I spent last Saturday at Dot to Dot Festival in Bristol, watching some great artists perform at the city’s best music venues and, most importantly, pestering them for interviews. At the start of the day, we headed to Thekla, a renovated boat which now hosts some awesome gigs and club nights. Bristol-based Neotropics kicked off the day at 3.30pm with an impressive dancey set on the top deck.
Shortly after, we went to the O2 Academy, where we spotted Towns sitting on the pavement opposite, surrounded by empty Carlsberg cans and looking a little worse for wear. We decided to approach them to ask a few questions. Lead singer James MacLucas seemed ambivalent upon hearing our request and—within seconds— jumped in his car and drove off, saying he had to “meet some friends”. Left with the rest of the band the conversation quickly turned into a barely decipherable mess about their sexualities and how drummer Miles is actually a part-time chef.
Their live set, however, was much tighter than our chat with them outside. Their repertoire consisted of a collection of catchy indie compositions, pulled together with neat, snappy chord changes and MacLucas’s interesting vocal tone, almost reminiscent of Liam Gallagher’s. They are vibrant and energetic on stage; each track is filled with carefully-crafted harmonies, overdriven dirty guitar riffs, and basslines which filled the room and got the audience moving.
It was unfortunate that we had to leave halfway through, but we needed to catch The Hundred in the Hands, who spoke to us after their outstanding set at Bristol’s most prolific venue. The Fleece has hosted a lengthy list of bands and artists: Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, to name a few. Lead singer Eleanore Everdell and guitarist Jason Friedman were surprisingly relaxed after a performance with such exhilarating energy.
Deaf Club were next on the timetable, however when we arrived the gig was at full capacity. No matter how much I flaunted my ‘press credentials’ and flirted with the doorman, it seemed we would never get to see the up-and-coming shoe-gazers perform. But it appeared luck was on our side when a few of the audience left towards the end of the gig. I caught up with the band afterwards to ask how they felt about their rapidly growing, loyal fan base.
Night was looming and the rain had began to fall. We had been walking for about six hours and my feet were reducing to a black and blue congealment. But we soldiered on and watched headliners The Drums play at the O2 Academy, and then Summer Camp at The Fleece. After their performance, vocalist Elizabeth Sankey was kind enough to join us for the final interview of the day, after being hurried out of the venue into the pouring rain by a few demanding festival organisers.
She mentioned that she was feeling ill, and it turned out that they had to cancel the other Dot to Dot dates in Nottingham and Manchester as a result. You wouldn’t have noticed she was unwell when watching their jaw-dropping act, however. Now backed with drummer William Bowerman, previously of La Roux, and a bag of new punchy hits, their sound has never been as rich and full as this.
They showcased an exciting mix of their nostalgic, sing-along classics, some highlights from their debut album, along with a new rendition of Losing My Mind, during which they paraded round the venue with just an acoustic guitar and their raw, sweet harmonies. Unfortunately, it became clear that the long day had taken its toll on some of the audience, who drunkenly talked over this intimate performance, but nevertheless they returned to the stage for the end of the show to play perhaps their most well-known numbers Ghost Train and Better Off Without You.
Whilst we were steadily collapsing from exhaustion after running around after bands I started to notice others around us collapsing from mass intoxication. It was like a plague was quickly spreading through the crowds of party-goers; they were literally dropping one by one. Maybe the city-based festival is as hardcore as the real thing after all?
The Hundred in the Hands
Words: Joe Bligh
Photo & video: Carolyne Lane