Every year I look forward to Dot to Dot Festival, I always find it’s a great place to discover new artists, while also watching some of my favourite emerging bands. The metropolitan festival takes place over three days, one day in Manchester, one in Bristol and the last in Nottingham. Each day taking over a number of venues in the city and showcasing the same headliners but also a further line up of artists local to that area.

This year the lineup featured headliners Crystal Fighters, Jordan Rakei, Swim Deep and loads more, but I decided to see which new, emerging bands I could discover on the smaller stages.

On Friday, Dot to Dot came to Manchester. I began at The Castle Hotel which was one of the earliest venues to open its doors, Gathering of Strangers started off the day, filling the room with people eager to watch their first band of the festival. The Castle offers a small stage and has windows towards the roof which allowed sunlight to light up the room, continuing the summer atmosphere indoors. The band performed their single Nice Hair, incorporating features of rock, pop and funk to create a lively sound, fronted by a powerful vocal from Connor Rabone echoing over the music. The set also featured latest release Lady as well as some new and unreleased music, the upbeat music rippling through the venue for the whole set.

Nottingham-based band Do Nothing were next on stage at The Castle, contrasting the sounds of Gathering of Strangers with a post-punk tone and spoken lyrics. Their music has an electronic feel, with well-timed beats, fronted by a moody vocal. After their set, I quickly made my way over to The Albert Hall just in time to catch The Orielles. The venue was busy and everyone was waiting to see the band, whose funk-infused, pop sound easily filled the big room. The Orielles have uplifting music, perfect for a sunny festival day, the band danced on stage, emerging themselves in their performance, while the audience were equally immersed in the music, dancing and singing along.

After not seeing them in a while, I had to watch Carnival Club at Jimmy’s, quite a few people had come to see the band and the venue remained busy for their whole set. The four-piece take on a true rock and roll sound, with underlying modern tones. Electrifying riffs are at the forefront of their music and easily capture any audience, along with frontman Kai’s powerful vocal. The band played most recent release Making Time, as well as Follow the Sun, initiating a sing-along from the audience who didn’t want the gig to end. The set was closed with House of Cards, the bands best-known track which charged the room with strong, rock-fuelled riffs.

Jane Doe are another band I had been looking forward to seeing. The Whiskey Jar was a little quieter than other venues, it is out of the way from the main area of the festival, but the alternative-rock tones of the band quickly lifted the mood in the basement room. Jane Doe have a relaxed, psychedelic-infused sound which they mix together with heavy instrumentals, creating fierce moments through their set. The band were enjoying the gig as much as the audience who watched and listened during the slower segments, then were flipping their hair and moshing during the heavier parts.

Photo by Richard Skerratt at La Poésie Photos
Photo by Richard Skerratt at La Poésie Photo

My favourite performance of the festival must be Saytr Play, the five-piece band never fail to get a crowd moving. Their music is perfect for dancing to and is just what everyone wanted to hear at Dot to Dot. Dive NQ was filled with people eager for a boogie and, when the band began with Don’t Go East the crowd erupted. The whole room didn’t stop bouncing and the audience sang every word back to the band, other fan-favourites Mothers Love and Bang Average were played as frontman, Fred Farell danced around the stage and crowd surfed (although the ceiling in the room is very low so I wouldn’t recommend this). The set was closed with one final sing-along of Fragile, the audience danced and chanted “shout it out, shout it out…” back to the group, while the whole venue moved as one.

The last band I saw at Dot to Dot this year was Kashmere, the band played at Tribeca, a bar on the outskirts of Manchester’s Gay Village, where the bright club-style lighting suited their 80’s inspired sound well. The band began with an unreleased track, Someone, before jumping in with my personal favourite, Tokyo. I have previously described their music as “glittery” and I stand by that, the twinkling synth lines and charming, compressed beats make the music sparkle through any room. The band continued with oldie, Porcelain provoking cheers and dancing from the crowd who sang every word, Anaesthesia was next and then their latest, stand-out track, Gravity with smooth, experimental tone creating a tranquil atmosphere. The set went on to feature Codeine and then closed with Hoxton– an old classic- everyone was dancing along to the indie-pop track which has infectious summer vibes- the best way to end the festival!

I look forward to seeing you next year!

Liv X

All photos by Richard Skerratt at La Poésie Photos

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