Dot to Dot Festival Part 2 – Live Review

31/05/2010

by Lara Williams

Having begun life as something of a Nottingham indie institute, Dot to Dot has recently spread its wings to include stints in both Bristol and Manchester. Compromising a series of gigs at various venues (forcing you to go, quite literally, from dot to dot), this festival of sorts offers an afternoon-through-evening of some of the best new music in the country and indeed, beyond. Some, I hasten to add, as the line-up is disparate at best and entirely schizophrenic at worst. Quite what the thinking behind a line-up that contains both Portland-based experimental electronica from White Hinterland and vacuous, no-mark ‘pop-rock’ from 2010’s Pixie Lott-in-the-making Daisy Dares You, is really rather baffling.

Anyway, ponder no more as we move onwards to what was good…

My Photos | Marcus Holdsworth | Dog Is DeadPlaying the Council Chambers (one of the smaller venues) Dog is Dead write punchy, resounding ditties packed with idiosyncratic charm and just a smattering of youthful naivety. The set begins with a series of buoyant crowd pleasers – reminiscent of early Rapture or Radio 4 material – spiky, danceable and slightly punky – more fitting of NYC origins rather than their native Nottingham. With a combined age of about 12, apparently, and resplendent in whatever neon prints were on offer in Urban Outiftters (assumedly), Dog is Dead leap and bound across the stage in an exhausting fashion. Let this fool you not, as they are at their crux an accomplished, tight and entirely in synch band that, one suspects, are just a little bit ambitious.

The Pineapple Folk-curated Club Academy stage seemed to have lucked out with the more impressive line-up (Liars, Los Campesinos!, Field Music, Washed Out, Beach House…), though was unfeasibly busy for the bulk of the day.

Washed Out (aka Ernest Greene), part of the Pitchfork-dubbed ‘Chillwave’ genre, played to a nigh pitch black room, not exactly infusing their soporific set with any sort of vigour. On record, Washed Out is dreamily wistful, tranquil and immersive whilst during his set Greene fails to engage even slightly. Loops drag and drone, lacking in character or emotion and giving you little reason to pay attention. A repetitive and dry performance.

Sunderland’s Field Music pose an interesting dichotomy. Chipper, unselfconsciously poppy melodies combined with impossibly upbeat, staccato rhythms sit at odds with the deadpan and often sarcastic delivery of their wry lyrics. Brothers David and Peter Brewis brims with charisma and charm, yet retain an appealing aloofness. Switching drumming duties during the set, they both posses a rather unique Butlins-show band drumming style. Albeit, a really cool one.

Over at The Deaf Institute The Ruby Suns defiantly bubbly tropicalia offers a rush of energy and have the crowd shucking and jiving wildly. Animal Collective experimentation coupled with Os Mutantes buoyancy bounces and froths. Their sound grates after a while however, lacking consistency and commonality. A little cohesion wouldn’t go amiss – though there is no doubt they inject Dot to Dot with a little much needed sunshine.

Wild Beasts played a pleasing set on the Academy 2 stage, though were not quite as energetic and enjoyable as their record in person. Proffering all the jaunt and fizz of their record, though lacking the camp theatrics which made them interesting in the first place. Picking up after the first half (after a change of vocal duties), the sound suddenly becomes bigger, the hooks more catchy and the set becomes frankly, more fun.

The day’s absolute highlight was undoubtedly Beach House playing a set every bit as woozy, dreamy and absorbing as you would expect. Victoria Legrand’s deep and gloopy vocals carry across the dream pop melodies, elevating the heavy drones to something more resonant. Having undergone classical voice training, Legrand’s singing is measured and controlled, an instrument of its own making.

Despite being steeped in a decidedly electronic sound, Beach House manage to sounds organic and almost crude, dripping with emotion and meaning. Next year’s tickets are already on sale. Hopefully they’ll consider a more linear suite of artists and less damned clashes.




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