Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yu, Me And Everything

Bristol Dot-to-Dot Festival, various venues in Bristol, Saturday May 23 2009.

This was Parallax View's second visit to Bristol's Dot-to-Dot Festival, 2009 seeing some venue changes (converted prison and church respectively Fiddlers and Trinity making way for The Cooler and additional rooms at Thekla and Academy), two days now compressed into one, and much better weather (hello, sun!). Effectively the event is a glorified pub crawl with some of the globe's hottest-tipped new bands playing at every turn, so c'mon, what's not to like? Although all that relentless gigging and ligging was bound to take its toll on our critical faculties by the end of the evening (wasn't it ever thus, dear reader?).

And yet, in the beginning, there were false starts, with Official Secrets Act pulling out, and Marina and the Diamonds having the 24-carat excuse of being stuck in traffic. So it was Flashguns to the rescue to get things started with some welcome flair upstairs in the moored-boat venue that is Thekla. These four lads looked young enough to be found in your local underpass sniffin' glue, but put in a polished, professional performance that saw them search for the missing link between Arctic Monkeys, Interpol and, erm, Larrikin Love. Possibly not the most original band of all time, then, but they have enough dark energy and a knack for a tune to see them fire up the charts.

Did somebody mention fire? Because, some moopie and groovy later, we were back in the upstairs of Thekla to be suitably impressed by LoveLikeFire, fronted by the stunning Ann Yu, all blunt bangs, darkpool eyes and startling cheekbones, and an intelligent, compassionate vocal style that recalled Emily Haines. Metric are probably a good point of comparison to the San Francisco outfit, with their rock music comprising powerful surges of guitar noise complemented by fetching female vocals to tuneful, moving effect, particularly on the epic closing number which definitely had sea legs.

While waiting for friends, your confident correspondent caught sight of the delicious Ms Yu wearing a splendid pair of big sunglasses, and managed to grab a few minutes of her time outside the venue, during which she was as cool, polite and patient as anyone could hope an indie-superstar-in-waiting could be while being probed by a beaming blogger. She revealed that the new LoveLikeFire album is due for UK release in August, although our Stateside cousins may have to wait a while longer while a deal is hammered out. We predict great things for the band, and just hope Ann's pie and groovy didn't get too cool while we talked...

Having duly met up with friends, we headed over to Louisiana (the venue, not the state) to see Polly Scattergood, someone we've been following on Mitherspace for some time, but has attracted a fair amount of attention since the release of her eponymous debut in March. Polly looked terrific in a spangly dress but the set took a fair while to warm up during which some casual observers sloped off. Their loss, though, because she left her best 'til last with a devastating coda of 'Bunny Club' and 'Nitrogen Pink' snatching victory from the jaws of disaster. Downstairs, meanwhile, Liam Finn was winning over lots of friends with his feelgood folk with just enough spice in the gumbo to keep things interesting.

Had Thekla actually set sail or were the beers kicking in by this point? Or maybe it was Duchess Says rockin' the boat with their uproarious electro-funk that resembles Crystal Castles buccaneered by the anarchic spirit of The Mae Shi, the lead singer climbing the ceiling of the boat from the stage to the bar with the helping hands of a sweaty crowd to the visible jawdropping of the beer vendors.

The beers were definitely kicking in now, so where better to head than The Cooler where The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart were kings for the day? The Cooler is a pretty big venue but it was ridiculously packed, and 'Young Adult Friction' was the order of the day both on-stage and off during a lively and tuneful set. Things then descended into a bit of a blur as we rushed to The Fleece to catch the second-half of AC Newman's performance which was strong on good humour (Newman threatens to fire just about every band member at some point) and belting tunes ('The Heartbreak Rides' track of the year to date? Discuss). Then it was a swift swagger back to Thekla to see a fierce, bracing set from Baddies that supplied a needed caffeine jolt for your woozy writer at that point.

Our zigzagging path continued with a stroll back to Fleece to see The Soft Pack who we were very impressed by without the wherewithal at that point to illustrate these vibes with wise words. We think we just liked the hard, clanging sound of their guitars, and at the end of a long session of drinking/gigging, what more do you want? Nineties indie sorts My Vitriol were the following act, but we weren't really paying that much attention at this point, and we'll let you, dear reader, decide whether this was our fault, theirs, or a mutual deficiency of sorts. As for The Hold Steady, let me tell you by this point we were doing nothing of the kind...

Parallax View Health Warning: Binge Drinking is neither big nor clever, and makes clear nonsense of any aspirations towards serious rock music journalism.

PS. Thanks to VV Brown who patiently waited for your clumsy cameraman to take a picture of friends Ray and Deb either side of the stunning singer (fuck, she's tall).

PPS. Just two sightings of Big Jeff - at the front (but of course!) to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Flashguns (the centre-stage Flashgun's double-take when he first saw him was priceless).

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Anonymous alsion said...

Sounds like a fun day! I'm knackered just listening to the venue-hopping you did though. Can't believe they introduced that bloody hill to the journey with the Cooler. Was a bit worried about Big Jeff's whereabouts till the end there. You got any other events planned for the summer?

8:54 AM  

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