Review: Our day at Dot To Dot 2021

Dot To Dot festival is always my highlight in the Bristol gig calendar. A full day of non-stop music, with an array of new and undiscovered artists playing across the city, as well as some hidden gems and seasoned music professionals.

This year started at The Lanes for me, with Sunspot out in the courtyard. They were chilled, played some good music, was just a good opener to the day.

Into the bar, for Kieran Hill. Standing in for Try Me, Kieran played a mix of his own music and a couple of covers, with Lyle supporting on the trumpet. An unexpected surprise, but one that was certainly welcome.

Keeping on with our bid to get in as many artists and venues as possible, it was over to Thekla to catch Efe. Another super chilled band, with an incredibly talented guitarist pushing the show forward. Followed by the rocking anthems of Wunderhorse upstairs straight after, and then Eve Owen out on the dockside, the day was getting better and better.

Over to O2 Academy next, for Chubby and The Gang. I’d caught the second half of Chubby’s set when they played the Download Pilot earlier this year, and I really enjoyed it, so was excited to be able to catch the full thing. Unfortunately they just weren’t quite up to expectation. The lead singer had plenty of energy, but the rest of the band and the crowd just weren’t responding to it really. It almost felt like too much of a performance at the crowd, rather than for the crowd.

Like I said, really enjoyed them at Download, maybe d2d was just an off day.

Next venue was the Fleece, with absolutely no idea who I was going to see there.

On my way there I ran into Becky and Oli from Musosoup, who I’ve been working with for about 2 years now, and never properly met in person! I got the opportunity to say a few words about d2d and the Bristol music scene. Look out for Musosoup TV on Instagram to see our interview!

Anyway, into the Fleece for Luke Royalty. Never heard of him, so was going in having no idea what to expect. Not the normal kind of act I’d expect at the Fleece, a bit of an indie-pop mix, using a lot of tracks and pre-recorded sound. It took me a while, but by the end I was really enjoying their stuff, and I can say their song I Could Get Used To This has now made it onto my daily listen playlist! These are the first from the weekend that I would say to watch out for.

Back over to Thekla, and this time I somehow ended up at a rap gig. Those who know me will know that rap isn’t my style, but I ended up really enjoying Kofi-Stone’s set. He sounded really good and the crowd were really into it. With my limited knowledge of rap all I can say is – It was pretty good!

Getting the miles in, next was Louisiana, firstly for Belishas in the downstairs bar. These young lads were loud, angry and noisy, but another one to certainly look out for. It was then time for Liverpool based band Pixey upstairs. Although I only caught their first two songs, they were another really solid act, and one to watch out for!

One final walk across town and it was back to the O2 Academy. I managed to catch the last bit of the set from Black Honey, again, another band who absolutely rocked.

And then it was on to Girl Band.

Honestly, I was both really confused and disappointed with Girl Band. Admittedly, I had only heard of them, little more than that before d2d. Firstly, calling yourself girl band as 4 blokes is a little bit strange, let’s be honest. Then there’s the music. It’s just a lot of noise, felt like there was very little skill from any of the musicians on stage, just using their instruments and pedals to create noise. Onto the main singer – again it was just boring. Throughout the whole set he looked like he didn’t want to be there, hardly interacting, or even acknowledging the crowd. Just weird and boring, the whole thing. But the crowd seem to like it so who knows?

Then it was on to the main event of the night. One thing with d2d is deciding who to end the night with. In the end, my choice came down to three – Sports Team, Palace or the secret set at The Louisiana (who were Heavy Lung). In the end I decided to stay for Sports Team.

And I’m certainly glad I did stay. Sports Team rocked the venue for the whole of their time. Lead man Alex was at one with the crowd for his whole set, barely staying still for more than about three seconds. The audience kept that energy up, with plenty of mosh pits and even a few surfers.

I don’t know Sports Team well enough to comment about the songs they played in their set, but from speaking to others who knew them well, it was a good mix of old and new, bangers and B-sides. Basically, a classic band set.

However, if you are looking for a calm, easy going band these guys are anything but that. There was a lot of pushing and crushes in the crowd, certainly a few less considerate people down in the pit. Alex didn’t help that, especially jumping onto the speakers and almost swinging from the overhead fixtures, even getting into the crowd near the end of their set.

As much as I love an artist getting in with the crowd, it just felt like Alex either didn’t know what he was doing or simply didn’t care. Most artists who crowd surf know how to do it, how to not get dropped and make it back to the barrier in one piece. He did not. It was also doing stupid stuff like giving the mic stand to the crowd in the middle of a song, and ending the set by handing the mic to someone in the front row (much to the annoyance of the stage crew).

In short, what I’m trying to say is. Sports Team are amazing to watch, but if you are considering booking them for a gig or festival, maybe think twice.

But with all that, I still ended up having an awesome time at d2d this year, and got to see an amazing showcase of talent across the city. I’m glad it’s back and I can’t wait for next year!

Review by Ted Stargatt for TrueStyleMusic

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