Dot To Dot

Dot To Dot


It’s just turned half 6 and already the evening is off to a bad start. I’m at The Roadhouse, the first stop on a long night of festivities for Dot To Dot Festival, and I’m reluctantly paying £4.50 for a pint. To make matters worse, before I can even take a sip of the overpriced beverage in my hand, a geezer from the venue announces that Flesh are stuck on the motorway and won’t be arriving. Fuck. Flesh were one of my top picks for the whole festival and the first band of the evening for me, so it’s a bit of a gut punch to hear they aren’t able to make it. But with the gap in the schedule, it means I’m able to catch a bit more of another of my top picks, Salford prog-lords Trojan Horse.

A quick walk up the road to Kraak gallery makes me feel all nostalgic for the days of A Carefully Planned Festival – heading back and forth between Northern Quarter venues and this place. Now in its tenth year, the Manchester leg of Dot To Dot has moved from Oxford Road into the Northern Quarter, and so a lot of the venues on the list have become regular haunts for me. The room at Kraak is pretty packed out when I arrive, which is good to see. Trojan Horse are already well into the swing of things and the crowd are vocal in support. Regular drummer Guy is replaced tonight by John of Manchester turbo-prog wizards Cleft, so it’s a bit of a super group in the making, with John adding a different dynamic to their sound. The set culminates in wig outs from all but John – A good ending from them and a good opening band to start my Dot To Dot festivities.



At this stage, my pals head off in the direction of the Central Methodist Hall to catch a hype band who I’m not keen on, so I nip off in the other direction to see what’s happening at Gullivers. It’s a good thing I do, as on the way I bump into one of the lads from Flesh who hurriedly tells me they’re playing an impromptu set to make up for earlier. Along with a new drummer and a change in formation (old drummer John is now up front on guitar), Flesh waste no time in busting out the hits as their bass player announces “We’ve only got time to play the number one’s” With a tongue firmly in cheek, they mug about on stage, with their brilliant throwback Madchester sounds delighting the room. Flesh are a highlight of any show they appear on, and their last minute addition at Gulliver’s certainly makes up for the earlier vacancy at The Roadhouse.

From one favourite to another, Nottingham trio Kagoule are the next band of the evening, down the road at Mint Lounge. Kagoule are fast becoming one of my favourite bands at the minute, with their blend of sludgy, grunge infused alt-rock and their catalogue of nothing but hits. It seems I’m not the only one who’s got a bit of an infatuation with the three-piece, as the room swells with people throughout their set. At this stage, I’m a little bit pissed as well; a hip flask full of whiskey coupling with their infectious sound to really hit the spot rather well.

Not long after, I find myself on me tod again for The Wytches at the Central Methodist Hall. These guys have been on my radar for years, but I’ve only just started listening to them. The room is absolutely rammed, mostly with kids, and sadly the crowd kind of puts me off. What I catch of the band sounds great, but enough to keep me there and so I duck out early. I’ve probably missed out on the glory days of catching these guys in the intimacy of the backroom of a pub, but I’ll endeavour to catch them properly at some point.

With time on my side, I get my skates on and zip down to The Roadhouse to catch the end of Honeyblood. There’s already a queue at the door when I get there and they’ve been told it’s a one-in, one-out situation, but with a flash of my press wristband I’m straight in the door. Perks! The Roadhouse is jam packed with people when I head downstairs. On stage, the Glaswegian duo blast through a set of bittersweet pop jams to a really appreciative crowd. From my vantage point at the back of the room, it looks like the girls are having a great time up on stage, really getting into the performance. It’s a shame that The Roadhouse is closing its doors at the end of the month, as it really is a great old school venue.


The Fat White Family

Back at the Central Methodist Hall, the kids are still going strong, staying up well past their bedtimes to catch a glimpse of Fat White Family. Fresh from a run of shows in the states and an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, there’s a lot of hype surrounding these guys. Tonight they’re a ball of energy, with front man Lias Saoudi getting stuck in from the off. These lads bring a real sense of unpredictability, with the crowd acting accordingly. This time around, the crowd aren’t killing the mood, and with my hip flask now completely depleted, the whiskey swirling around in my person compliments the vibe.

From the packed out Central Methodist Hall to the intimacy of the tiny room at The Whiskey Jar, I manage to squeeze in to catch another top pick, False Advertising. I’m pretty sure this is only their second live show, but the Manchester trio look like they’ve been at it for years. They’ve already got a real great collection of songs at their disposal, and it sounds brilliant here. Their debut single ‘Wasted Away’ has generated a real buzz online, so the room is full of folk eager to catch their first glimpse of a band who could quite easily become massive in no time at all. At this stage, every bands seems to be clashing with each other, so with their set already in full swing, I quickly make a dash to catch The Hotelier at The Roadhouse. Good vibes by the bucket load can be found within, and the crowd is packed out with smiling faces, singing along to every heartfelt word. I’m only able to catch a few tunes, but what I hear sounds great.

The final stop of the night is a return to the Central Methodist Hall for Leeds quintet Menace Beach. What once was a room that was almost at full capacity is now nearly empty, and I’m not sure why. Menace Beach fit the exact same criteria that all these kids would have loved, and it’s a shame the band don’t have the same crowd to play to that were going mental hours before. But Menace Beach still manages to put on an awesome show. I love their grungy, lo-fi sound and it’s great here, with a particular highlight being the brilliant ‘Tennis Court.’

This was my first foray into the world of Dot To Dot and with it being their tenth outing, I think I picked a good starting point. The majority of the festival saw packed out rooms everywhere I ventured, and there was a real buzz around the Northern Quarter. I think the move from Oxford Road to the NQ has been a good one, with its atmosphere adding an extra element to some of the top acts that played. Roll on Dot To Dot 2016!

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Andy Hughes

Hi, I'm Andy.I'm the man behind Birthday Cake for Breakfast, a site featuring music news, reviews and interviews.Big believer in Birthday Cake, Pizza, math rock and beer (preferably all in one sitting.) I spend my mornings daydreaming about gigs and my evenings going to gigs. Lunch times are spent walking about town listening to Tom Waits.'Id rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy'