Dot To Dot Festival, Bristol
26th May 2008
The weekend kicked off in glorious fashion in blazing sunshine, not a cloud in sight but unfortunately a fair share of hay fever induced sneezing from this weekends companions Mr Flowers and Anna. Three ice creams, three wristbands and one coin toss later we found ourselves in a rock pub called The Fleece on the East side of town ready to watch the first band of the weekend.
Hatcham Social to be fair, have a long way to go if they are going to move up the bill from this early afternoon slot. Musically they started raggedly but the rough clatter brought a certain charm after your ears had recovered from the excessive noise levels. Vocals were pretty poor and the few catchy tracks were driven mainly by the guitar lines. More touring necessary I think!
After carefully traversing a neighborhood of plentiful massage parlors and blacked out windows, we thankfully arrived at Trinity Music Centre (TMC). To my shock and surprise this was actually a church converted to a music venue, not an arena usually reserved for booze and rock and roll I imagine! However I’m sure the lord would have approved of the next band we saw, Ida Maria.
Ida Maria, a Scandinavian female fronted indie band with a keen eye for melody and an Ikea sized warehouse of cracking songs. Lead singer has a cute kitsch aura surrounding her and her Kate Nash-esque vocals (thankfully with better pronunciation). She commands the stage as the band more than get this church o’bopping. Instant happiness and breezy melodies tied to contagious chorus’s on tracks such as I Like You So Much Better When Your Naked, Oh my God and Queen of The World make this a super uplifting set. Can’t wait for their Debut album!
After hightailing it to The largest of the weekends eenues, the Bristol Carling Academy, we settled down the front to catch my only “must” see performer of the festival. Not before we strayed upstairs into academy two to witness a gabbled mess of electro and processed beats played erratically and Wee’haaay too loud by The Death Set. Not unexpectedly… we left!
Frank Turner, did not disappoint in the slightest. The rough around the edges hardcore punk rocker turned acoustic anti-folk hero was a commanding presence with his laid back rock and roll ethos. His new material sounded awesome, good time tunes with his characteristic heart on sleeve transparency.
Frank is immediately likable in a “you must have some crazy stories kind of way”, some of which he sung about here this afternoon. Set highlights included The Real Damage which documented one such boozy weekend, Fathers Day with its melodic grace and Back in the Day retraced to his angry youthful punk days (which he clearly still clings onto quite a lot).
However the show stopping track was the heartstring tugging, uplifting anthem for a lost friend that showcased his poetic no-nonsense songwriting at its best.Long Live The Queen is a perfect tribute to someone who clearly meant a hell of a lot to the guy. As the final chord rung out of yet another cracking tune The Ballad of Me And My Friends, we shuffled out knowing we’d witnessed the best the weekend had to offer!
Back over to TMC we trotted to catch the alt country duo Two Gallants. Their unique take on country music with finger plucking noisy fuzz riffs sounded great. The lead singers weathered vocals were not the strongest but what they lack in power they regained in character. This was rather enjoyable and one of the most un-formulaic bands of the weekend, but they did little to totally inspire the crowd, which is a shame really.
A pretty lengthy walk to Fiddlers later we settled down and caught some terrific piano indie pop in the shape of Golden Silvers. They put on a fantastic short set which had the crowd totally enthused and they were not short of style, melodies or catchy vocals either! Unknown to me before now, until now!! Watch out for these guys!
The real reason we were here was for Anna’s choice, the 80’s loving popsters of Palladium. Being honest I didn’t expect much more than a few cheery pop numbers, but this was a whole heap of fun. I just truly hope that their tongues were in cheek as their outfits were truly Duran Duran inspired. I was keeping a firm eye on the sublimely over the top keyboardist (complete with silver glittered visor) prancing around trying to be cool. To put it bluntly, he missed woefully and induced more than a few belly laughs. Anywho with all this lightheartedness it would take a pretty depressive band to lower the vibe….they duly arrived.
Tonight’s headline act Glasvegas (Elvis quiffs et al… ) have now been labeled the best new band in the country by NME. They did their very best to spread misery, angst and depression. They succeeded spectacularly! Their moody noise rock melodies were atmospheric and suitable dark and with lyrics like your dad he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone… these guys set to take on Morrissey for title of pop music’s grand miserablists. I will have to disagree with the stamp place upon them by NME, but then… that’s not particularly a big surprise.
A downbeat but no less impressive end to a cracking opening day…. Day 2 coming soon