Dot to Dot Festival
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Festival Review

With some of the most exciting fresh artists on the line-up, here’s how Dot to Dot Festival went.

2022’s Dot to Dot line-up is a pretty well-constructed one. A wave of artists hit Bristol and Nottingham for a weekend designed to help you find your next favorite band. Post-punk legends Squid, indie star Alfie Templeman, Grime MC Ghetts, and laid-back hip-hop duo Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn take headline slots, while lower down the line-up is chock-full of something for everyone.

The city festival takes over several great venues in each city, spreading talent across Bristol and Nottingham. The multi-venue system that the festival runs on does make for some pretty tough clashes and tight dashes between stages, but this enables Dot To Dot to stack a day full of the best up-and-comers around.

In Bristol, the day starts at Thekla, a boat venue/club that Dot to Dot builds around as its main base. There are three stages at Thekla, a tiny outdoor set-up, and two on the boat. Most acts take place in the bottom deck which has a quality stage set-up and a cool upper viewing balcony for those wanting to take it all in.

Retro Video Club

© Harry Mowe

Our day begins with Retro Video Club at Thekla, the anthemic Edinburgh four-piece kicking off the festival. A pretty powerful way to start the day, the band brought the energy with hard-hitting hooks and high energy. Being the first act of the day is no easy task, but Retro Video Club stepped up to the job admirably and with full confidence. The group has a pretty significant stage command, not shying away from attempts to win the crowd over with interaction. Speaking of winning the crowd over, RVC did this well, but probably didn’t even need to as the tunes speak for themselves.

Overall this is a pretty hard-hitting indie band perfectly chosen to get the Dot to Dot ball rolling. Well worth checking out.

ayrtn

We hung about at Thekla to catch ayrtn, a promising young UK rap MC. Unfortunately, off to a slow start due to some tech issues he got going about 10 minutes late. There was one thing that stood out most about ayrtn and that was his crowd work. For a pretty fresh artist to be pulling off the crowd interaction and hype work he was, was really impressive. Although a little rough around the edges, he played an incredible set with some great tunes.

© Harry Mowe

Jockstrap

© Harry Mowe

By no fault of the artists, I was really let down by this set. The set was in the front room of the Bristol Beacon, a really wide open space. As a result, mixing the sound well was a near impossibility. So much of Jockstrap’s set was unfortunately lost to the poor sound in the venue. That being said, I’ve nothing negative to say about their actual performance at all. Lead vocalist Georgia was super performative and really tied into the feel, and Taylor played with a withdrawn mysteriousness creating quite a cool feel. Jockstrap are a super unique and experimental duo, and I always leave a set like theirs feeling really creatively energised. I hope to be able to catch them again under better circumstances.

Cassia

We then took the five-minute walk over to the O2 Academy main room. Cassia is another band that fell victim to tech issues, and as a result, their set got cut super short. What they did manage to get through was fantastic, super tight tropical indie tunes that made a perfect pairing with the sunny festival. A real shame that these guys only got through about half of their set.

© Harry Mowe

Gretel Hänlyn

© Harry Mowe

This one was just a short walk upstairs to the O2 Academy’s second room. Of all the artists on the line-up, Gretel Hänlyn was the one I was most excited about. Her awesome debut EP Slugeye was released recently and I was curious to see if her performance was as striking as her studio work. The set was fantastic, the energy was in the right places, the band was well-rehearsed, and Hänlyn performed her small selection of tracks authentically. I was especially blown away by the guitarist, he kept a tight performance but also threw lots of blemishes and extras on top of the tracks that were really tasteful and augmented the live performance from the studio recording. Hänlyn’s crowd work and interaction was limited, but not atypical for an artist as new as her. Definitely a really promising artist I’ll be seeing again.

Everyone You Know

Back to the Beacon for this one, which as warned before had some issues with sound. These sound problems seemed to be managed better for this set however, as Everyone You Know pushed a massive sound and pulled a massive crowd.

EYK are an awesome set-up, somehow managing to craft a sound that appeals to ravers, rockers, punks, and more. They get this wide appeal right in the live show too, playing the right mix of their heavier tracks and their more dance-focused stuff, even playing an awesome cover of Play God by Sam Fender.

Another notable thing about this group is how sharp they are. They keep their both aesthetic and their sound super tight and focused which has a really cool stage appeal.

© Harry Mowe

Baby Queen

© Harry Mowe

Next up we ran back to the O2 Academy to catch Baby Queen‘s set. This set was super high energy, massively playful, and really engaging. Baby Queen definitely has a lot of skill working an audience, which was definitely helped by the fact she had a lot of fans in the audience. Her live band were really locked in and packing a pop-fueled punch, in perfect support of the up-and-coming popstar’s absolute confidence.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to catch the end of Baby Queen’s set as we had to run to another artist, but even with what we did manage to catch we were impressed.

Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn

For the last act of the festival, we re-boarded the Thekla boat to see Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn. These guys are absolutely awesome, pulling off a refreshing lo-fi-esque hip-hop and rap sound. The boat packed out for these guys, and it was obvious why with the brilliant connection that the duo formed with the audience. Harvey Gunn is a near virtuosic producer supplying the beats, and Frankie Stew takes the lead with really thoughtful, and often emotionally intense bars.

The alt-hip-hop powerhouse even brought out a surprise guest. Joel Baker came out to perform Tortoise, an awesome track that he features on.

Frankie was really communicative with the audience, taking time to speak to an enthusiastic audience, and even ending the set with a stage dive. By the end of the set, any skeptics were no doubt won over.

© Harry Mowe

Final Thoughts

Dot to Dot Bristol was a fantastic day. There’s always a really special energy when a line-up is curated specifically for the purpose of showing off up-and-comers and fresh talent. Attendees can show up to the festival in the morning knowing little about the acts performing, and leave with a new favourite band or artist. Dot to Dot did a great job with curating a line-up that did just that, and although at times the logistical side was a little clunky, the day was incredible.

Thanks to Dot to Dot Festival for having us.

All photo content is by our talented photographer Harry Mowe.

Dot to Dot Festival will be back in 2023:

For more information Click Here

For 2023 tickets Click Here

Written by

Drew Manning

Drew Manning is the Owner and Lead Editor of Alibi London.