Each year, Dot to Dot Festival showcases a brilliant mix of new talent and more well-established artists across the venues of Bristol. As with any festival, it’s impossible to see everything – but this is how Dot to Dot 2017 was for us.
At Ardyn’s stage time of 16:15, the festival has barely begun, but as their set begins, the O2 Academy2 is already nearing full capacity. This is the Gloucester twins’ third visit to Bristol in the last nine months, and they’ve built quite a following here; the unreleased tracks they play capture the room just as much as earlier singles ‘The Valley’ and the eerily beautiful ‘Universe’ do. Coupled with recent single ‘Together’, the new, unreleased material shows that Ardyn’s sound has blossomed wonderfully – it’s evolved ever so slightly from their folky roots without losing any of the sincerity that makes them so special.
Willie J Healey
It’s an exciting time to be a Willie J Healey fan. Just a few weeks after supporting Palace at Thekla, he’s back in Bristol to play a set at Bristol Bierkeller. The rest of the summer will see further tour dates and the release of his debut album, People & Their Dogs, on August 18th, and if this evening is anything to go by, it’s going to be an LP worth spinning on repeat. Particular crowd-pleasers are the bass driven ‘Lazy Shade of Pink’, and ‘Subterraneans’ with its laid-back slide guitar. Healey’s appreciation for all those supporting him is clear as he grins at his ever growing fanbase between songs, and in his shout-out to “Georgina – the girl who gave us free donuts at the service station when our van broke down” on the way to the gig.
The Big Moon
As soon as the opening chords of ‘Silent Movie Susie’ are strum, it’s clear that The Big Moon more than deserve the hype that surrounds them. This set comes less than two months after the release of their debut album Love in the 4th Dimension, but they have the confident stage presence of a band that’s been going for much longer. It’s in the nature of Dot to Dot that people dip in and out of bands’ sets, but The Big Moon seem to hold the attention of SWX throughout, and with tracks like the ‘Bonfire’ (complete with wolf howls) and their brilliant take on Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’, it’s no wonder.
For a band that have only been releasing music for a year, post-punk art-rockers Husky Loops are a remarkable force, and you could probably bet good money that their half-hour set in the basement of The Island is the loudest of the entire festival. ‘The Man’ sees the band at their most melodic, and is a real showcase of Pier Danio Forni’s vocal talent, whilst the biting bassline and overdriven riffs of ‘Tempo’ foreshadow that Husky Loops are on the brink of something big. It’s a joy to have seen them in such a tiny venue at this early stage of their career.
The four piece noise pop band from LA stopped off in Bristol to show us exactly why they’re pulling out all the stops this year. Each song is made as powerful as the next with the impacting vocals of lead singer Clementine Creevy. They managed to switch the set up nicely by playing songs from their first two studio albums like ‘Grilled Cheese’ and ‘Chewing Cud’ with filthy grunge sounds to songs from their album new album ‘Apocolipstick’. Containing a harmonic intro in ‘Nuclear Bomb’ and bewitching guitar riffs in ‘Told You I’d be With The guys’. They really did smash it. (Alex Edwards)
The Slow Readers Club
Manchester’s The Slow Readers Club headline Bierkeller with an atmospheric and emotionally charged 45-minute set that spans their two albums. From the opening track, ‘Fool for Your Philosophy’, they keep a constant verve and energy that a band playing straight hit-singles on a greatest hits tour might hope to achieve – even during their slower, more poignant tracks, like ‘Block Out the Sun’. Single ‘Plant the Seed’, from their most recent album, 2015’s Cavalcade, gets even those who didn’t know the band before tonight singing along. At the barrier is a row of those kitted out in the band’s trademark t-shirts who know every word that frontman Aaron Starkie sings – proving that after you see The Slow Readers once, you come back to see them again and again. It’s certain that those seeing the band for the first time tonight will be back when they return to Bristol in November, to play Thekla.