Friday, June 03, 2022

Bristol’s Dot To Dot Festival 2022, in a nutshell

Last Saturday, multiple emblematic Brizz music venues such as Thekla, The Lanes, Rough Trade, Strange Brew, and The Fleece hosted the 16th edition of the Dot To Dot Festival to showcase the best new talent. 

Set in the cornerstone of trip-hop music, the multi-venue festival called for various notable artists like Alfie TemplemanSquidBob VylanBaby Queen and other outstanding musicians such as HypotheticsRutiRose Gray, and George O’Hanlon.  

Though charming a dancing crowd in a hull might seem challenging, Rose Gray didn’t lose the direction during her barefooted performance in the inimitable showboat Thekla, moored in Bristol’s floating harbour since 1984. The Walthamstow sugar plum fairy waved her fluorescent digital drumstick around her mixing console while smoothly spinning to the notes of newly released tracks like ‘Last Song’ and ‘Synchronicity’. Gray’s versatile vocal ability stretched from Balearic house tunes found in ‘Easy’ and ‘Save Your Tears’, both singles from her latest EP, ‘Dancing, Drinking, Talking, Thinking’. She then segued into more soulful tunes such as ‘Same Cloud,’ inspired by 1990s black music. 

Across the Avon, Ruti and George O’Manlon enchanted Rough Trade’s audience in Nelson St. Having a fever was not a big deal at all for The Voice UK rising star Ruti, likewise, O’Hanlon looked finely confident despite being notified at the last minute. Ruti is currently performing across influential UK independent music festivals to celebrate having already released two EPs, ‘Racing Cars’ and ‘All At Once’, and signed a major record deal with Sony Music. Fitted perfectly with her refined jazz-soul stripped sound coming out of her jade Fender telecaster, Ruti’s intense voice sweetly hypnotized the crowd which heartily sang along to the chorus of ‘My Sunrise’. Catchy jingle aside, to empathise with this song was easy after almost three years where even personal care felt like another task to tick off from the endless checklist that would get you through the day. Ruti explored the theme of avoiding putting too much pressure on oneself in an even more intimate track called ‘Safe And Sound,’ premiered to the lucky crowd in Rough Trade. 

The amount of hard work and attention to detail behind Ruti’s production is indeed remarkable, as much as George O’Hanlon’s artistic path, moved by an intensely emotive lyricism giving a nod to the aesthetic of Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan. Extracted from O’Hanlon’s recently released EP ‘Seagulls,’ ‘Go Your Way’ streaked a bittersweet cathartic moment in each attendant’s heart. O’Hanlon disclosed his most profound burdens, from the isolation and confusion in the attempt to define oneself expressed in ‘Seagulls’ to unconditional love in ‘Call Me’.  

Then Bristol progressive quartet Hypothetics, formed by George Bailey (vocals), Dan Pacini (guitar), Jim Wilcox (drums), and Joe Holliday (bass) got sweaty at The Lanes’ stage. Hypothetics love experimenting with new textures, blending their hardcore roots with hip-hop in freshly released tracks like ‘NEWBORN’ and ‘LET YOUR SOUL HANG OUT’. As a result, last Saturday the band demonstrated the eagerness to not want to settle and follow a specific sound by mixing different genres. From punk and alternative rock to hip-hop, they gave one of the most fluid live performances ever played.  

After two years of pandemic, Dot To Dot Festival 2022 has been a painkiller for Bristol’s and Nottingham’s grassroots venues, with over 100 local artists involved. And though the future is now more unpredictable than ever, summer festivals confirm to remain pinned into the lives of our community.

Martina Bovetta


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