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.


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.


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.

MADE IN MANCHESTER: An Interview With Mystery Artist Mancsy

Mancsy’s art reads as a love letter to the city of Manchester and its people. Every screen print and mosaic celebrates the industrial roots of the city, and the contemporary creativity that makes it such a unique and exciting place to live.

Mancsy’s art reads as a love letter to the city of Manchester and its people. Every screen print and mosaic celebrates the industrial roots of the city, and the contemporary creativity that makes it such a unique and exciting place to live.

The brand new Mancsy Visits Victoria Warehouse exhibition will run from Thurs 23 April to Sun 10 May, and features twelve new designs, plus well-loved favourites from Mancsy’s online catalogue.
I chatted to Mancsy to find out more.

Harriet Williamson: Let’s start with the big questions! What inspired you to become Mancsy?

Mancsy: It was an idea I had while hanging about Stevenson Square one day, thinking about the hazard stripes on the back of Dry Bar, looking at the double yellow lines crumbling on the road and thinking about Manchester. I’d been looking at the coat of arms around this time, so the bee graphic emerged. I thought about spray painting it as a tag but felt that it was meaningless. I decided to make a set of limited edition screen prints and give them away using the streets as a gallery. I started in January 2012. My concept was really to get folk to look about them and see the beauty in the streets of our great city.


H: Talk me through some of the symbolism in your screen prints…

M: The bee is the symbol of the people of Manchester, Greater Manchester as well. The bee comes from the coat of arms representing the hive of industry in the industrial revolution. My bee has a hazard stripe referring to our cultural development. Today I believe we are a capital of creativity. Manchester has a history of firsts and it stands to reason that creative people make things happen. In other pieces my ideas emerge. Sometimes I’m just making something for me. In my second year of prints I supported a cause, unbeknown to the organisers, like The Feral Pigeon Project or Dogs in Salford Facebook page. It went down well.


H: Has every piece of art you’ve left in public been found and appreciated?

M: In the early days I made 20-25. I always keep number 1 of each edition. Some got rained on. One recently got tore up by a teenager in Ancoats who was gutted when someone told him he could have sold it for £25!

H: The prices on your website are really, really reasonable. Is this deliberate? Are you trying to make your art accessible rather than charging top dollar for it?

M: Until September 2014, other than ones sold in the Kosmonaut exhibition, I’d given all my work away on the streets or posted prints out to people. It was getting to a point where I could no longer afford to keep Mancsy going. Mrs Mancsy calculated I’d given away £28,000 worth of art at my website prices. I felt that was a good thing.

It was crunch point, so I had to do something. I set up the online shop and revamped my website so people could check what they had. It was a success. In effect, the site’s there not to make me rich but to sustain the street giveaways. Each month a new design can be found, if you don’t find one you can now buy one.

H: In your opinion, what makes Manchester a unique city?

M: The people are brilliant, they shape a place. I love the city’s atmosphere, its architecture, its reinvention. It’s my home.

H: Do you have a team helping you or is Mancsy a lone wolf?

M: I was a loner with a big ball of blu tack, now I’ve a small team. I trust them explicitly, plus they all signed a non-disclosure agreement!

H: Any exciting plans for 2015 that aren’t top secret?

M: I’ve an upcoming exhibition with Manchester Mosaics, she’s turning some of my most popular designs into A1 mosaics. I’m always exploring new ideas.
Made in Manchester