Dot to Dot 2016: The Drowned in Sound review

DiS went to Dot To Dot festival over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, calling in at Nottingham on Sunday 29th and Manchester on Friday 27th May.

First published by Drowned in Sound, 8th June 2016

DiS went to Dot To Dot festival over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, calling in at Nottingham on Sunday 29th and Manchester on Friday 27th May. Here’s our two writers’ Harriet Williamson (Manchester) and Dom Gourlay’s (Nottingham) main highlights.

Manchester

Goda Tungl @ Kosmonaut

Our first stop was Kosmonaut, to see Mancunian four-piece Goda Tungl. Perfect for fans of Foals’ first album, the sharp mathematical guitar, pleasingly dark lyrics and frontman Scott Brown’s impressive vocal range combined to create some incredibly memorable electro-indie tunes. Brown’s jerking, long-limbed movements kept all eyes on the stage during a stand-out set, despite early technical difficulties. Top tracks included Shabba, Lostboys, and Teething, all from their new EP ‘Zoo Bar’, available now. Goda Tungl deserves to go places.

Day Wave @ Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen basement proved much too small for everyone who turned out to see Day Wave, AKA Jackson Phillips, and his band from Oakland, California. People were packed into the suffocatingly hot underground space, with more queueing on the stairs. Day Wave’s winning formula is the pre-chorus drop, then the glorious swell as the tune resurrects itself and leads into a wickedly catchy chorus.

Meadowlark @ Night and Day

Meadowlark are not just a vehicle for former YouTuber Kate McGill, they’re a darkly atmospheric folk outfit that are well worth a listen for fans of Laura Marling and Bright Eyes. They already have a substantial cult following, with a new tour starting in September. Unfortunately, the venue’s sound system and the noise of a crowd insisting on carrying on their own conversations did much to cover and blur the sweetness of her voice and the bright, heady guitar.

Baba Naga @ Kosmonaut

Sheffield-based Baba Naga played another packed venue, with festival-goers crammed into the doorway and on the stairs throughout their set. Your reviewer was unable to actually get inside the room or see what the band looked like, but enjoyed the heavy psych vibes nonetheless. With big reverb and languid vocals, Baba Naga are on the circuit for a number of festivals this summer, including Field Day, Visions, Green Man, and the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. Fans of eerie, mid-sacrificing psych-rock should aim to catch them on one of their festival dates.

Blooms @ Texture Bar

Blooms gave a strong performance at Texture bar, and despite the fact that their set clashed with the Mystery Jets’ headline slot, a sizeable crowd turned out to see the Manchester three-piece. Huge energy from brothers Tim Daniel (bass) and Mark Daniel (drums), with Matthew Adams on guitar and vocals putting his heart and soul into the performance. This band is perfect for fans of Diiv, Deerhunter, and Real Estate, mixing dream surf-pop shoegaze vibes with Manc miserablism. Stand-out tracks included the new single ‘Porcelain’ that explores mental health problems, indie pop banger ‘Head is Swimming’, and ‘Alaska’, a song that manages to be both heartfelt and catchy, with an incredible guitar riff.

The Bear Around Your Neck @ Cord Bar

Manchester-based singer-songwriter Nathaniel Scott, AKA The Bear Around Your Neck, has been steadily gathering momentum for quite some time now. His hypnotically dark brand of folk music takes a great deal of inspiration from both country and psychedelia, with delicately picked guitar arrangements breaking through atmospheric amplifier fuzz. Scott opened his set chanting ‘I’m an open wound’ as a segue into the searing melody of The Fruit Fly Way. Scott used the set to showcase a couple of brand new tracks, and closed with a deliberately chaotic patchwork of feedback. Cord Bar reached full capacity and people were turned away, testament to the appeal of Scott’s haunted, emotionally raw brand of psych-flavoured, fuzz-heavy folk.

Diet Cig @ The Ruby Lounge

Diet Cig were hands-down one of the best bands at Dot to Dot this year. The garage punk pop American two-piece was fronted by a tiny dark-haired pixie, Alex Luciano, who exploded on a stage as a ball of pure energy, jumping and high kicking without pausing to catch her breath and watching her, it was entirely possible to forget that live music could be anything else. Drummer Noah Bowman kept a cool presence in the background as Alex bounced her way through crowd sing-alongs, with the biggest grin never once leaving her face. Fuck your Ivy League sweater, as Luciano calls into the crowd, because this band is one worth getting sweaty and losing your cool for.

Spring King @ Central Methodist Hall

Spring King are currently hailed as a Manchester success story, hotly tipped by Zane Lowe and appearing on Jools Holland. Their sought-out headline slot at the Central Methodist Hall wasn’t quite as well-attended as expected, although plenty of younger teens took the opportunity to push and pogo in a sweaty knot at the front of the stage. The venue had sound troubles throughout the day and was an hour behind schedule when Spring King finally took to the stage. Despite their recent success, the band came off as generic with little to recommend them. Spring King might’ve given the show their all, but many people left wondering if their reputation is bigger than the songs that they actually play.

(HW)

A Carefully Planned Festival: No unwanted commercialism or creative stagnation to be seen

Much like Dot to Dot before it, A Carefully Planned shows that Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the ideal location for urban festivals.

First published by The Independent, 19th October 2015

Much like Dot to Dot before it, A Carefully Planned shows that Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the ideal location for urban festivals. With 150 bands scattered across multiple indie venues, the two days of breakout artists felt organic and celebratory, and provided an opportunity for attendees to a take a chance on previously unheard acts.

Several Manchester bands gave standout performances, including the urgent, affecting Goda Tungl, with their haunted frontman bringing to mind a contemporary Ian Curtis, and sunny surf pop three piece Blooms, their atmospheric, shoegaze sound drawing one of the larger crowds for an early-evening set. With an EP in the works, Blooms are definitely one to watch for fans of Surfer Blood and fellow Mancunians Horsebeach.

Some of the strongest performances of the festival came from women rocking out, with London three piece The Tuts headlining Gullivers on Saturday night and whipping up the crowd with a high energy, ska/punk influenced set. On Sunday, Liverpool-based band The Orielles gave an impressive performance at Texture, their female drummer and bassist contributing to the tightness of their set as much as the male guitarist. They might be only just eighteen, but The Orielles demonstrated technical skill and an ability to write catchy garage rock tracks that put many older artists to shame.

A Carefully Planned festival is in its fifth year now, but shows no signs of unwanted commercialism or creative stagnation. Long live the urban festival in Manchester

Dot to Dot festival, Manchester, review: A surreal urban celebration of music

In its tenth year, Dot To Dot is proof that you don’t need to pitch a tent in a muddy field to get that festival feeling.

First published by The Independent, 25th May 2015

In its tenth year, Dot To Dot is proof that you don’t need to pitch a tent in a muddy field to get that festival feeling.

This urban celebration of music involved the city’s most unique venues, including Manchester Cathedral, where drinking a can of beer under the stunning stained glass windows felt utterly surreal.

Highlights included the energetic early set from Manchester dark indie boys Gorgeous Bully, and lo-fi garage rockers Hinds, who gave a brash, raucous performance without any hint of ego or pretension. Birmingham four piece Swim Deep failed to impress, their immature sound struggling to fill the cavernous expanse of Manchester Cathedral.

Notorious South London rockers Fat White Family provided an authentic rock n roll experience, despite not stripping off or throwing a pig’s head into the crowd (this time). LA rock duo Best Coast and their band offered a more polished sound, and Bethany Cosentino’s confident voice brought a splash of Californian sun to famously rainy Manchester.

As the majority of venues were clustered in the city’s Northern Quarter, the format of the festival worked well. On the whole, the acts had enough distinction and vitality to make the event as diverse and vibrant as Manchester itself.

Aesthetica short film festival to turn York’s historic spaces into cinemas

Film festivals may take place all over the UK, but not many are able to engage quite so seamlessly with the natural surroundings as the Aesthetica short film festival in York.

First published in The Guardian 9th October 2013

Film festivals may take place all over the UK, but not many are able to engage quite so seamlessly with the natural surroundings as the Aesthetica short film festival in York.

The festival’s 15 unexpected screening sites have been chosen to allow filmgoers to experience the rich, medieval history of York while taking in the best of contemporary short film.
Cherie Federico, Aestheica’s director, says the festival is a chance to “turn a city into a cinema”. Locations include the medieval King’s Manor buildings, which was the seat of government for Tudors and Stuarts and is now home to the University of York’s archaeology department.
Thirteen Thirty One, a quirky gastro-pub in York’s Latin Quarter, has its own cinema, complete with reclining seats and table service, and is also one of the venues.
Aesthetica is tapping into the market of film buffs who want more than the standard Cineworld or Odeon experience. Innovative new ways to screen films are becoming increasingly popular, demonstrated by Secret Cinema events and the pop-up Hot Tub Cinema projects.
Federico says the decision to allow screenings to cover all corners of York “gives festival-goers the opportunity to experience some of the best independent film while discovering the distinct and rich setting”.
  
There are 300 short films from 30 different countries, all of which are being shown on each day of the festival, so ticket holders have the chance to see as much as they can. Weekend tickets are priced at £30, but there are other options available from www.asff.co.uk.
There will also be a wealth of networking opportunities, with representatives from Channel 4, Film 4 and Bafta. Networking events are priced at £7 and masterclasses with industry talents including Alice Lowe, Cowboy Films and Raindance’s Chris Thomas are £8.50.

Harriet’s film picks

Victor Orozco Ramirez’s Reality 2.0, an animated documentary about drug-related violence in Mexico.
Jassim Al Nofaly’s Panda, a drama from Kuwait following a young man on the eve of his wedding.
Muriel d’Ansemboug’s Good Night, a coming-of-age short featuring two 14-year-old girls who want to explore their newly discovered sexuality while out on the town.
Eamonn O’Neill’s I’m Fine Thanks, an animated tale of a young man struggling with the inadequacies present in his daily life.