Dot To Dot does what it says on the tin. Venues are carefully pin-pointed throughout the city, joined together by lines of music enthusiasts, to form an almighty middle finger to all the muddy fields and over priced pints that are to come later in the summer.
Manchester’s Northern quarter was the setting for the northern leg of the festival. Soaked in musical history, from the underground venues knitted together by second hand record stores, it was the scene for the next string of up and comers to forge their place into festival folklore.
Although metropolitan festivals may throw up a few unpredictabilities, including no shows from Pixx and SWMRS at the Ruby Lounge, growing indie-darlings Blaenavon picked up the pace and drew in the early drinkers of the day for a dance and scream-along. With each festival appearance they make, the Liphook trio’s new material grows in force. Latest single ‘I Will Be The World’ bulldozes through the venue with its machine gun bass line, whilst future track ‘Orthodox Man’ is the next big indie-pop tune. Watch out for it.
As the evening drew in so did festival goers, to the dim corner of Mint Lounge where the live music merged seamlessly into deep house. Nimmo bridged the gap and all else in between with a performance fresh off the back of supporting Years and Years. The bands don’t take their foot off the gas, sliding effortlessly between songs and feeling more and more like a euphoric DJ set. Latest track ‘My Only Friend’ creeps in with a Four Tet style build up and feels instantly timeless; it wouldn’t be out of place in a Faithless-sized arena.
Following suit are friends and fellow synth-rinsers, Formation, who’ve used festivals to bulk out their sound and keep people moving into the early hours. Frontman Will Ritson roams the stage during opener ‘Drugs’, clattering cowbells and screeching at speaker’s, the feedback shattering through a Chemical Brother’s style synth builds up towards early track ‘Hangin’. Previous single ‘Control’ has also been turned inside out, into a titanic carnival anthem and wins over a few more fans along the way.
Around the corner at Soup Kitchen, Danish outfit LISS have a point to prove after gathering copious amounts of radio airtime. Their thick riffs and jingling chime bars sound cleaner than on record and it’s these slick instrumentals and smooth Lionel Richie-esque vocals from frontman Søren Holm that just about save LISS from being a static group of pretty boys. If they tighten a few screws they can override the funk and groove of power-duo Jungle.
With so much fresh music on offer, it is still the returning names which gather the biggest crowds, with many queuing outside Central Methodist Hall to get a glimpse of Temper Trap. Those who don’t need not worry though. The Australian outfit brought a lethargic performance reminding the majority of the audience of a time for guitar music they’d rather forget and only really peaked with the inevitable closing of ‘Sweet Disposition’. Whilst many fled to catch the last train home, the most exciting band of the festival took to stage; Manchester’s very own Spring King.
The band fire rapidly through tracks from their forthcoming debut album including latest single ‘Detroit’ which falls somewhere between Drenge and Slaves. Frontman Tarek Musa rips through a full throttle version of 2014’s ‘Demons’ before moshpits open for two minute track ‘Let’s Ride’, bassist James Green pogoing on the spot like an excited toddler. They’re a band on the brink of breaking but they haven’t let that status tame them. If Dot to Dot has taught us one thing it’s that those who really do go full throttle in such intimate venues are the ones who keep drawing festival goers back each year.
Photos by Ethan Weatherby