De Staat are the discovery of Bristol's Dot to Dot festival

Dot to Dot (Bristol) 2010 review

published: Tue 1st Jun 2010

De Staat

Saturday 29th May 2010
various venues, Bristol, BS1 5NA, England MAP
£25
last updated: Sat 1st May 2010

On paper the fourth Dot to Dot festival in Bristol looks to have overall a slightly less appealing line-up to previous years. The addition of the Anson Rooms in the Bristol University student union as an extra venue for the day has spread the festival out that little bit further into Clifton but buses have kindly been provided by the festival organisers to ferry fans between the various parts of the city. The festival is not just growing in Bristol but has also been expanded to cover three cities for the first time with a third day added in Manchester to accompany the festivals original home in Nottingham. One band missing from the Bristol line-up is Beach House, which is shame since their 'Teen Dream' album is one of the best alternative albums to come out of America this year.

Maps and Legends
Being able to see a band at every venue proved to be a challenge last year and it was one we failed again this year with the great Louisiana being the venue that missed out this time around. We did, however, manage to make a trip to the fallen legend that is the Fleece. Once a venue that played host to early gigs by Coldplay and Radiohead, amongst others, the Fleece is no longer a fixture on the circuit and now only seems to attract a stodgy mix of cover bands. The first band for us on this damp Saturday afternoon is local act Maps and Legends. Presumably named after the early R.E.M. track, there certainly is some Stipe influence on show but the track 'Counterfeit Love' sounded like something straight off of Jeff Buckley's seminal 'Grace' which can only be taken as praise. Friendly front-man Jack Hobbs speaks of the bands pride to be playing at the Fleece, and the reasonable crowd do seem interested, although the attempt to engage the audience in a clap-along to the final song does seem to suggest a small amount of misplaced confidence. A pleasant start to the day, if not completely ground-breaking.

Confidence is not something that could be said to be missing from The Cheek. Over at the Thekla the band formerly known as Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds strut onstage looking the part in their dapper wear. Front man Rory Cottam seems to be exactly that - a front. He looks like a front man but his vocals seem to be obscured, intentionally or not, by those of guitarist Charlie Dobney who, perhaps cruelly, has the look more of a side-of-the-stage-man. There is ambition in the sound but the ambition reeks of circa-1996 Britpop, which was fun at the time but is best left in the past.

De Staat
Upstairs in the smaller bar area of the Thekla we find our discovery of the festival. De Staat, a five-piece from Netherlands with an almost militarian feel make a great stompy noise that the check-shirted skinny-jeans brigade lap up. Big Jeff, a well-known face (and hair) is in attendance which is usually a sign that we're going to get a good gig, and the band appreciates his hand-banging performance at the front. Reminding me of their Benelux neighbours Deus, De Staat have just released their debut album in the UK, some 18 months after its release in their homeland, and with a Glastonbury performance coming up it could be a surprise hit for them. I, for one, will be ordering a copy.

We finally bite the bullet and make a trip to the O2 Academy. Instantly the decision is regretted. The only venue that deems it necessary to search every single bag for entry is made less inviting by the clientele that seem to be using this particular venue as their base for almighty bank holiday weekend piss up. The coupling of an average band, Blood Red Shoes, with an appalling venue does not bode well and the twosome has about as much presence as a pigeon in an aircraft hangar. In fact the sound is so bad the vocals cannot be heard at all from the rear of the venue. Steven Ansell, drummer, has his vocals turned up slightly, followed in a few songs time by those of guitarist Laura-Mary Carter however it isn't until the last couple of songs when the overall sound starts to fill the venue, but it really isn’t worth the wait. Disappointing.

White Hinterland
A short journey to The Cooler leads us to the lush vocals of American singer-songwriter Casey Dienel, known as White Hinterland. Backed up by only a box full of effects the music is more suited to a late night come-down rather than a build up to a climax of a festival and the attention of the crowd is just not sustained. On record lovely, but live there just isn't enough going on to keep everyone interested.

Liars, on the other hand are at the Anson Rooms to entertain. As soon as he is on the stage vocalist Angus Andrew is putting on a performance. As they rattle their way through a lot of their recent, critically acclaimed, album 'Sisterworld' Andrew, looking like a curious mix of Nick Cave and Andrew WK, bounces around the stage playing up to the crowd, which is perhaps a little smaller due to the current it-girl Ellie Goulding playing back at the O2 Academy. As a really enjoyable set comes to a close we make the decision to hang around at the top end of Bristol to catch our choice of headliner Los Campesinos!

It turns out to be a great decision. Anticipating a young crowd I was quite surprised to see quite a mature audience for the indie-pop band formed four years ago whilst at Cardiff University. Gareth Campesinos! is on great form as he ferociously hits his glockenspiel and takes the opportunity to indulge in a bit of stage diving. 'Romance is Boring' and 'You! Me! Dancing!' are the crowd favourites tonight and are welcomed by some raucous crowd behaviour – Gareth himself reminding the crowd to look after themselves so not to rule them out of Fabio Capello's England World Cup squad. There's no encore but the intensity of the set is triumphant and leaves everyone happy.

Another good year is completed with the delicious sounds of Washed Out and Adem's new outfit Silver Columns back at the Thekla. How the organisers are going to keep the festival growing will be interesting to see, ditching the O2 Academy would be a welcome start, there are plenty of other venues in central Bristol that would provide a better experience and give the festival an extra boost to keep the Bristol gig-going public on their toes.

Los Campesinos
review by: Richard Stevens

photos by: Sarah Stevens

Saturday 29th May 2010
various venues, Bristol, BS1 5NA, England MAP
£25
last updated: Sat 1st May 2010


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