Dot to Dot has become an absolute must in the gig calendar and serves as a great start to anyone’s festival season (without the hindrance of pac-a-macs and wellies).
Every year they deliver a premier line up, showcasing both established and emerging acts, many of which go on to become some of the year’s stand out artists. Having been in fruition for seven years now, it has helped kick-start the careers of The xx, Mumford and Sons, Florence and The Machine and Metronomy to name just a few. Expectations are therefore always high, and somehow always exceeded.
Manchester was the final stop for the three day event, which saw gigs in Bristol and Nottingham across the weekend, and it proved to be the ideal day for the discerning music lover who wasn’t concerned with the Jubilee celebrations across town. Tuesday being a bank holiday was very much appreciated though, so thanks m’aam.
Equipped with a snazzy fold out timetable and a distinct plan of attack we descended on The Deaf Institute for our first instalment of D2D2012 - Hyde and Beast. The two-piece acts as a side project for Futureheads’ drummer Dave Hyde and Golden Virgin’s drummer Neil Bassett. Two drummers, how does that work I hear you cry. The answer: incredibly well. Anyone familiar with The Futureheads will know they’re famed for their high octane, voracious and ballsy live sets. What Hyde and Beast present us with is the complete flip reverse; fluid and dreamy, their blend of bluesy soul with charming harmonies and general simplicity is bewitching to say the least. With the added brute force from the session musicians, the varied instrumentation reigned through adroitly, leaving us in a psychedelic haze.
With the festival having adopted new venues this year, Zoo soon beckoned as did one of our must-sees of the day, Jake Bugg. Much has been said about this young songsmith of late. At the tender age of 18 he’s already wowed us on Later with Jools Holland and single ‘Lightning Bolt’ is all over the airwaves - Zane Lowe having even declared it the “hottest record in the world”. No pressure then.
With a stage presence far beyond his years and a touch of the Alex Turner about him, his yesteryear take on toe-tapping country folk-pop soon saw the brimming room eating out of the palm of his hand, fully engrossed. ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Country Song’ showcased his raw and redolent vocals flawlessly and proved equally as fetching as his current single ‘Lightning Bolt’ that customarily received the biggest roar from the crowd. With Reading and Leeds slots confirmed this week and an album on its way in November, mainstream success is surely beckoning.
Our second must-see of the day, Dog is Dead, were up next at The Ritz, always a pleasure to see and always managing to outdo the last time. The harmonious Nottingham five-piece were on top form, clearly relishing the opportunity to play on the bigger stage. Their mix of sky-scrapingly euphoric and disarmingly simple lent itself consummately to the by-now heavily mirthful crowd.
Hot-footing it to Sound Control we were then treated to lo-fi, indie-rock Ohio hailing boys Cloud Nothings. Loud and hard, their sound was a metaphorical punch in the face compared to the somewhat dulcet tones we’d experienced throughout the day. With Baldi’s voice thrilling and rasping with a restless undertone they worked their way through a varied set including tracks from all three albums. With a plethora of distortion, heavy hooks and barbarous drumming we were suitably alert and ready for the onslaught of Wavves.
Raucous would be the best way to describe their sound. A fine mix of punk, rock and noise; they’re a full attack on the senses. They’re strikingly fun too, good rapport with the audience and jovial. On being told they only had two songs left they responded with “it’s bad for you, but we don’t give a fuck, we’re still getting paid the same amount”. They pack a punch; they’re instrumentally tight and cohesive, and frontman Williams a definite entertainer. A triumphant set and a perfect accompaniment for festival headliners Pulled Apart By Horses.
On paper Pulled Apart By Horses may have looked like a curious choice of headliners when looking at the other acts on the bill, but if like us you’d slowly been building up your noise levels throughout the day they were the perfect climax. Things don’t get much louder, more ferocious or sweatier than these guys. Quite frankly they’re just a truly great live band. Whether you’re into your punk or not, there is not denying they’re a force to be reckoned with on the live circuit. Full throttle from the get go, they prove to be just as intoxicating as the beer in our hands.
They run through tracks from both their debut self titled album and sophomore ‘Tough Love’, each of them met with utter rowdiness and inevitable moshing from the slightly berserk crowd. V.E.N.O.M and its infectious hooks proved to be one of the stand out tracks along with ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’. Honourable mention must go to the stars of the ‘dance off’ orchestrated by James and Tom mid-set. Some serious moves on show; like Jagger and then some.
And with a distinct smell of sweat and beer intact, and with our appetites well and truly whetted for the festival season ahead, that was Dot to Dot 2012. Victorious once again.
Words: Michelle Lloyd
Photo: Victor Frankowski
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