Nine to see at Manchester’s Dot to Dot Festival

One of the granddaddies of the town festival format is the magnificent Dot to Dot with a long weekend of fun in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. I always regret that I’ve not organised my days to follow the D2D carnival right around the country but once again I’m going to have to content myself with just the Manchester leg of the series.

In the past I’ve caught Catfish and the Bottlemen, Dry The River and the 1975 at Dot to Dot and the festival organisers have a canny knack of selecting artists who will be huge in a few years, at £14 a pop (this year) I’ve personally discovered many of the acts that form the soundtrack of my life from the festival.

One personal Dot to Dot highlight was attending one year with my nurse (shift working) other half and realising Ady Suleiman had got his sister to come over and check why his performance was so terrible given my missus was snoring through it on the benches at the side of the performance area at Night and Day. Just get in touch if you want some tips on where to enjoy a power nap.

The format is familiar; well over 100 artists on 20 or so stages with music stretching from early afternoon until the early hours. This year there is a strong emphasis on local bands and unsurprisingly for a long running festival of no small pedigree we are completely spoilt for choice.

So here’s Halfway 2 Nowhere’s choice of 9 carefully selected and immense Dot to Dot 2019 experiences for you to consider.

A band I’m hugely excited to see are Dublin based trio the claque (Gorillas 16:45). Their blistering fuzzy and lush backing contrasting with the gently tender and beautifully controlled voice of Kate Brady, means their track Hush is currently towards the top of my personal playlist. Not least I will need to check whether the rest of their set reminds me of Kate Nash meeting Radiohead.

Never ever boring and with perhaps one of the widest musical portfolios currently in music is yet another cracking Liverpool band SPQR (fortunately also at Gorillas 16:00). When you just know a band are going to be headliners one day they are worth a look-see. I do have to ask, is everyone in Liverpool born with an instrument in their hands.

I love the majesty of SPQR’s Peter Harrison’s voice which reminds me a little of Matt Bellamy without that annoyingly contrived forced tone, mixed with the wild unpredictable phasing of John Lydon, and a backing and pace which varies from Queen-esq pomp to funk to hard punk. As a famous film once suggested SPQR are like a box of chocolates…

Still in the North West, I really rate Blackpool’s Nana White Pepper (21:30 at Retro). Here’s a lovely expressive and elastic voice backed by powerful riffs. There’s something of The Pale White about some of the tracks to my ear, but Nana White Pepper have an excitement of their own in the urgency of the music. The band have made great strides in 2019, making it to be one of Fred Perry Subculture’s ones to watch and with a very likable 2019 single release Live or Die.

Following on from Nana White Pepper is a band I’ve been promising to catch for a while, Northwich’s finest The Zangwills (22:30 at Retro). This young band have released a string of very catchy, jangling and tingly tracks over the past year or so, and have been working up their stage craft so they are one of the best regarded young live acts in the North West today.

There’s no shortage of heavy riff rockers, and local guys Carnival Club (Jimmies 18:30) are another set of must-see merchants. I saw this band over a year ago at Band on the Wall and these lads know how to give you a good time. After a quiet spell, Carnival Club have recently released new track Making Time which is a heavy rocker and I’m looking forward to hearing a mix of new and older tracks from the band st this time around.

I’ve already created a couple of difficult timing clashes where I’m going to have to jump on the spur of the moment, but another clash is created because I also want to go an see heavily tipped Nottingham band Do Nothing (16:00 at The Castle). The band have released a couple of thoughtful and intense tracks that rather have the feel for the sneer of The Stranglers wrapped in a nice swirling and powerful Radiohead style backdrop.

It’s always worth seeing what the buzz with Manchester’s lads of the moment Callow Youth are about. This young band have a seriously dedicated following and I can fully understand it. Live there’s more work and guts in Callow Youth as against flash but who can argue against solid hard toil and a noise that can blast most of the competition off the stage.

Dot to Dot will see Callow Youth release their new single Wake Up. I’ve enjoyed a preview of the single and it’s a polished radio ready banger, so expect the band on a buzz and keen to demonstrate they on the top of their game. Last time I chose an inopportune moment to have a quick word with vocalist Alfie. I’ve gotta hope I get more of an exclusive quote than discovering he was desperate for a wee this time around.

For a band that give a real show of pomp and muscle and who never let down or disappoint their audience then look no further than local guys Kashmere (22:30 Tribeca). The band are so consistent it almost feels possible to discount them. I’ve seen Kashmere develop from hard solid rockers to bouncy but thoughtful electronic darlings and the result is a heavy vibe but strong on tune and soaring chorus.

If I get to see the majority of the acts on my long list then I’ll be a very happy man, but there’s always time for one last down to earth, fuzzy dirty experience. Thus I’m thinking a final splurge at The Whisky Jar (23:15) for Oldham noise trio Gardenback. There’s plenty of 1960’s swirls and Stooges hard 60’s vibes to give the most restless of minds a good night’s sleep after a full on assault on the conscious.

Chris R

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