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Dot to Dot festival Manchester review

Taking place on the cusp of the festival season kick off each May bank holiday, Dot to Dot festival gives the opportunity to leave the wellies and tents behind for a day of music in the city - Sam Fawcett reviews.

Ben Smith

Date published: 3rd Jun 2016

Image: Spring King

The festival circuit is an ever expanding and growing entity. Each year a new ventures pop up, whether they are held in a muddy field in the back end of nowhere or - like Dot to Dot – in a bustling city centre.

Now into its 11th year, the festival takes over Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham for a day each over the weekend bringing a host of new and exciting musical talent.

The sun-baked Northern Quarter played host to the Manchester festivities, having moved from Oxford Road two years ago to a more central area with a higher concentration of venues. Taking advantage of the hidden in plain site Methodist hall on Oldham Street for wristband collection, the two tier grand hall also doubles as one of the main stages. 

The festival kicked off with a show from fast-rising Boltonian Jordan Allen and his band at the quintessential British Boozer, The Castle Hotel. The venue was already at capacity five minutes before Jordan and his freshly dyed blonde hair entered the fray laying their Arctic Monkeys inspired catchy rock ‘n’ roll.  

Hopping to The Ruby Lounge, Sego takes the stage. “Everybody at this party is already over it” spat Thomas Carroll and Spencer Peterson of Sego, encapsulating a laid back confidence that draws in the audience. The party is here, but nobody in this audience is over Sego.

Utah born, L.A based Sego are in the UK for the first time. Thomas Carroll and Spencer Peterson are backed up by a full band to put the meat on the bones of their live show. The early LCD Soundsystem groove has a seemingly hurricane-force to the guitar licks twinned with frantic spoken word lyrics. There are hazings of Girl Band to their sound too but the groove and lyricisms of LCD and DFA shine through. Sego could well be a new favourite band. 

Haus have been on the lips of many for a few months now. The North London five-piece have traversed a tightrope of influences which has seen the band take on many guises throughout their short existence. It is now in their final form where they will flourish. The endless live shows have lead them to a point where they are all happy and audiences are lapping it up too.

They mix math-rock and synth-pop that sears vocally and is infected with a kind of astuteness befitting of a band of more years; the arrangements too hold a maturity that makes a pop sound that is fully engrossing and never dull.

These five will be filling venues bigger than the scaffolding clad Texture in the months and years to come. Singer Ashley scaled the scaffold stairs during break out hit 'Blinded', he surveyed the audience who were collectively enthralled.

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Despite being 45 minutes late on to stage and with singer Ashley unable to fix a broken in transit guitar, they still managed not to lose the audience.

Escaping the venue, eyes squinting as we enter the sunlight again. Oldham Street is central to everything at Dot to Dot, and we found ourselves back on the street heading to Mint Lounge. Formation are a duo of South London based twins. Similar to Sego, they have crafted a dance-based, groove-led sound with the cowbell playing a central role.

It is rich in LCD influences again. They play a couple of new tracks from their upcoming album, but the set is short and mainly takes from the Under the Tracks EP. 'Control', 'Hangin' and 'Back Then' all get a run out.

They see Manchester at home, having played their first ever gig here in 2014. Each shows seems like a celebratory home-coming despite their southern roots, Manchester and the North just does the whole dance thing better, Formation are well aware of that too. 

The strangest of all the venues on show played host to Spring King. The Methodist Centre with its meandering corridors and stairways led up to a grand hall, a two tiered performance area. It is a space that had been a secret, but is well worth a visit.

Spring King have had a meteoric rise over the past couple of years, showcased by the band playing all three days of Dot to Dot and Radio 1’s Big Weekend over the bank holiday weekend. It is set to be a massive festival season for the fearsome four-piece band. Rocketing threw their set with lightening speed.

There was no time for a breath or a sip of beer, that point is mainly due to the alcohol free venue. Listing off the tracks that have seen them start their assent to the top of British guitar bands in 2016. 'Mumma', 'City' and 'Demons' all created a raucous atmosphere, probably never before seen in the four walls of the Methodist centre hall. The crowd swelled and swelled. 

Gathering themselves from the motion like sickness from sheer speed and energy of the what has gone before. Closing with 'Rectifier', the band bring down the curtain on the Manchester chapter of Dot to Dot 2016.

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Like this? Read our interview with Spring King: Elton John actually asked for some vinyl and CDs


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