For its twelfth edition, Dot to Dot took place again over fifteen venues in Bristol city centre on a warm Saturday in May. With the program in my hand and with some comfy shoes on, I made my way from one venue to the other for twelve intense hours.
The day starts at Thekla with Nilüfer Yanya, recommended as ‘the chillest pop we’ll hear all day’. The promise is kept as the songwriter from London takes us on a hypnotic jazzy journey. Her music is a concoction of minimalist guitar with deep vocals coming from the tiny body of this 21-year-old. Yanya has undoubtedly perfected her unique style, and, despite a dearth of stage presence and a bit of shyness, the venue was full to listen to her.
The day continues at Thekla with Vagabon, a young artist from New York City. Behind her timidity and her softness, Laetitia Tamko hides a deep soaring voice that echoes the melancholy of long New York nights, filled with loneliness and despair. She catches everyone’s attention with her haunting performance, with only an electric guitar and some electronic beats to accompany her.
Three-piece pop newcomers OUTLYA perform at The Island and are a good surprise. They have a contagious energy on stage and they instantly connect with the audience. Any of their songs could be a hit. Their sound, which can be compared to Bastille, is a mixture of dynamic keyboard, vigorous bass, electronic, loud percussions and catchy lyrics. The 30-minutes set goes in an instant and we all leave the venue with great enthusiasm to catch the next talent.
Guided by OUTLYA’s recommendations, the next band that I watch is Island at the Bierkeller, a quartet from London bursting with potential. Just like their name, their music takes us on a trip to a sandy place with the echoing guitars, chilled bass and Rollo Doherty’s suave voice. This band works with subtlety and skill and their music could be compared to the Kooks with a sophisticated edge.
As evening falls, the O2 Academy is filled up to welcome the headliners Amber Run and the audience doesn’t need to be convinced. People are specifically here to listen to this band from Nottingham, who are taking part in Dot to Dot for the third time. Their enthralling indie-rock captivates the crowd, and their electric harmonies on I Found are a treat for the ears. There is a good chance that this band’s popularity will skyrocket.
Back at the Bierkeller, I listen to Manchester based four-piece The Slow Readers Club. Their set is a mix of quirky electro pop and upbeat 80s influenced tunes. The atmosphere in the room gets intense as the crowd is hypnotised by Aaron Starkie’s vocals and deep gaze. They are on this year’s Isle of Wight Festival line-up and have already sold out a future gig in Manchester – more evidence that their star is rising. They have just announced that they are coming back to Bristol in November for a show here, so don’t miss them.
As the night draws to a close, I catch the final band. It is under the name of Lonely Tourist that Paul Tierney plays his folk music. Originally from Glasgow, he moved to Bristol two years ago and has since been playing in pubs all over the city. Lonely Tourist quickly invites his audience to dance and to clap in the crowded stuffy upstairs of The Mother’s Ruin. The heat is tolerable thanks to Tierney’s catchy folk songs and it is a perfect way to end a fabulous day of music.
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