Our First lady of Mancunia Michelle Lloyd was at hand to check out what the dot to dot festival had in store when it swung into the rainy city.
Last updated: 6th May 2014
Photograph by Stu Moulding
This is the review of 2013's Dot to Dot Festivasl - for details on 2014's edition head here.
First and foremost, whoever decided to make Manchester the first stop on the Dot to Dot circuit this year; we owe you a drink. Customarily the all-dayer rolls into town on bank holiday Monday, but with a bit of a re-jig, 2013’s instalment saw the city play cardinal hosts ahead of Bristol and Nottingham on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Without the worry of work the next day, it's safe to say we rejoiced.
Dot to Dot always includes a sumptuous line-up; mixing the brightest emerging talent with more established acts across an array of close-knit city centre venues. They always manage to get it spot on, booking those acts just on the cusp of great things - last year we were treated to Jake Bugg in the intimate surroundings of Zoo and now he’s selling out the dizzy heights of the Manchester Apollo. And we can’t help but think that a certain young lady we saw this year is destined for equally big things, but more on her later.
With vague recollections of seeing their name banded about on various in-the-know blogs, first stop was Sound Control for Ruen Brothers. On arrival we were stopped in our tracks at the bar by Dubliner Gavin James and his most fortuitous rendition of the very much en vogue ‘Get Lucky’.
James is so far removed from Daft Punk and Pharrell (he’s a flame haired Irish singer-songwriter) that it really could have been quite awkward. But, disarmingly simple, the naked eddying guitar that accompanied his saccharine vocal made for a bracing take on a much celebrated track; check the below for further proof.
Having caught the latter half of Ruen Brothers set, we think they’re one of these new old-fashioned bands that you’re meant to get excited about along with the likes of The Strypes. It was all very BIG and elaborate; lots of guitar swinging à la Presley, furious strumming and oh, oh, oh’s. And there’s no denying it was fun and skyscrapingly euphoric, but, well, that’s about it really.
Easily drawing the biggest crowd of the day were hotly tipped The 1975. With their aggressively tuneful indie pop songs, the four piece had the rammed Ritz in a flurry of discordant synth fuzz and many a teenage girl fully athrill. Nonchalantly they stormed their way through their triumphantly off-kilter odes; tinged with denuded punk and lashings of infectious hooks.
‘Sex’ with its hefty romping guitars lent itself amiably to the noble surroundings of The Ritz and radio favourite ‘Chocolate’ proved every bit as alluring as its namesake with it’s contagious, rolling riffs.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll have heard about Tom Odell. Along with the likes of Emeli Sandé (don’t let that put you off) he’s a BRIT Critics’ Choice Award winner. He’s a pleasant chap who looks a little like he’s paying homage to one of Hanson with his blonde curtains.
His falsetto fuelled offerings are triumphantly anthemic, and none more so than ‘Hold Me’ with its barn sized crescendo. He had the ample audience fully enthralled with his theatrical piano thumping and Elton John-esque closed eyes. There’s no doubt he’s got an exquisite voice on him and destined for major mainstream success; your mum will love him!
Dry The River proceeded and glided their way through a set that mixed old and new with a regal sort of ethereality. Coalescing voices collided with invigorated guitars and uproarious drums, as well as dynamic and booming sonic interludes.
They’ve been away and this headline set reminded us all of what we’ve been missing, adeptly whetting our appetite for the imminent new material. Catching the last couple of songs of Lucy Rose’s set; the hopeful and romantic one, once again lulled us into her world with her raw, emotional honesty and chipper nature.
And with the stroke of midnight came my new favourite lady Chlöe Howl. It’s a daunting prospect playing a 12 o’clock set, always a worry that everyone will have dispelled off into the land of afterparties or just be completely trollied.
But clearly the buzz surrounding this unassuming songstress had spread and Sound Control was awash with those of us ready to be fed some wholesome pop goodness. And with the standard conveyor belt churning out of buzz bands at the moment, Miss Howl makes a most refreshing deviation.
Her effervescent demeanour coupled with the fizzing bass and sprightly drumming had the room in a tangible tizz. Candidly running through tracks including ‘Rumour’, ‘I wish I Could Tell You’ and the rip roaring ‘No Strings’, she effortlessly won everyone over and reinforced her credentials as one of the most exciting new acts of 2013. Oh and you can forget ‘Moves Like Jagger’, it’s ‘Hips Like Howl’ from now on. This girl can move.
And with that we stumbled down to Gorilla determined to catch Chapel Club and their early morning slot; psychedelic, spiralling serenades ensued as did huge synth blasts. For those of you who don’t know, CC have gone a bit funky. They’ve got themselves a drum machine and their not afraid to use it. It’s a big depart from their older more sombre offerings but it works. It was bright and effervescent and provided the perfect kaleidoscopic end to a charming evening.
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