Bristol Dot to Dot Festival preview

Bristol Dot to Dot Festival preview

Posted on: 19 May 2018

12 must-see acts at Dot To Dot Festival 2018 in Bristol

***Last Tickets available now online here***

The Dot To Dot Festival returns to Bristol on Saturday 26th May 2018, bringing some of the best new bands to perform at venues across the city centre. Martin Allen picks out a few highlights...


Topping the bill this year, The Horrors will doubtless draw a big crowd to the O2 Academy, as will indie-pop band Pale Waves. As well as some of the very best up-and-coming acts from around the UK and beyond, this year’s line-up includes a huge line-up of local bands as part of a packed schedule throughout the day. Tickets are still available for this music extravaganza here.


With so much going on, it will of course be impossible to see and hear everything - click here for the full set-list at every venue - but we’ve picked out a selection of some of the artists that we think you should aim to catch…


1) Bad Sounds

This five-piece drawn from Bath and Bristol is fronted by brothers Callum and Ewan Merrett and bring a funky, bass-heavy melting pot of different genres to their music. Great enough to have on any playlist - but totally unmissable live. (O2 Academy, 6.45pm)



London duo KAWALA (Jim Higson and Daniel McCarthy) have caused quite a stir with their first two singles, both of which are major earworms. ‘Do It Like You Do’, appeared earlier this year as the follow up to debut single ‘Small Death’. It is a slinky, summery jam that features hushed vocals that could easily belong to Wild Beasts or Glass Animals, and brings together touches of afrobeat, indie-pop and plenty more besides. (SWX 2, 5.45pm)


3) Gus Dapperton

This 21-year-old New Yorker released his first EP ‘Yellow And Such’ last year and with it, he grabbed the attention of not only music fans but also fashionistas. His signature bowl-cut makes him a creative force that is unmissable, but his free-for-all dance style in his music videos including ‘I’m Just Snacking’ brings to life a lovable naivety that compliments his assertiveness in speaking his mind. His second EP ‘You Think You’re A Comic!’, released this year, brings back the synth pop sounds of the 80s relished with the varied texture of Gus’ vocal. This will be one of the big performances of the festival from an artist who is truly bringing something fresh to the table. (SWX, 7.15pm)


4) Men I Trust

Canadian Indie-dance outfit Men I Trust will be bringing their sublime brand of smooth melodies to Bristol during Dot To Dot. Don’t miss the chance to catch these guys in the intimate surroundings of Rough Trade where they will doubtless be setting the tone with the immaculate ‘Tailwhip’. (Rough Trade, 5.15pm)


5) Valeras

There’s a fair amount of hype surrounding this Reading-based rock five-piece, all of it justified. Expect plenty of urgency, energy, and noise at this set. It’s also bound to be packed out so head along early to see a band that won’t be playing such intimate venues for much longer. (HY Brasil Music Club, 10.45pm)


6) Jack River

Jack River is in fact the performing name of Australian singer-songwriter Holly Rankin. Her clever, thoughtful songs are matched by her talents as an accomplished live performer. Check out her signature tune from last year, Fool’s Gold. (SWX 2, 7.45pm)


7) Sam Johnson

Fresh from a stint on tour supporting ex-Kaiser Chief Nick J.D. Hodgson, Shropshire-born singer-songwriter Johnson has a gift of a voice that commands your attention. He has also been enjoying the support of BBC Introducing and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. Well worth a trip upstairs at the Thekla. (Thekla Top Deck, 4.30pm)


8) Rothwell

Originally hailing from Bristol, Rothwell has been making a name for herself thanks to her powerful, soulful voice and a succession of well-written pop tunes, including the excellent ‘Velvet Heart’ which has earned her plenty of well-deserved radio airplay and playlist exposure. (Thekla, 8pm)


9) No Hot Ashes

Hailing from Stockport, this four-piece outfit really manage to span the genres with plenty of rock, indie, and funk – it’s all in there, wrapped up with some highly creative songwriting and cracking guitar riffs. (The Island, 6.30pm)


10) Adam French

Haunting, mesmerising vocals are the trademark of the London-based Congleton-born singer-songwriter Adam French. Worth catching his set simply for his two superb singles ‘Incompatible’ and ‘You From The Rest’. (Thekla, 7pm)


11) Swimming Girls

One from a crop of exciting new bands to emerge from Bristol over the past couple of years, Swimming Girls seem destined for a much bigger profile. Their material continues to evolve and refine, and they’re an excellent live proposition to boot, making them well worth adding to your D2D itinerary. (O2 Academy 2, 3.15pm)


12) Devon

Devon is an indie songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who writes and records all his own music. From the Forest of Dean in Gloucester, his band mates Josh, Jack and Ad play live alongside him, and bring the music alive in gigs. Fuzzy guitars, big drum beats with massive basslines all combined with soul inspired vocal melodies and real, meaningful lyrics are what makes his gigs so energetic.

Playing a gig on home turf in the South West, Devon has promised if The Fleece hits capacity during this set, his band will shave his hair right off straight after playing. Such a bold – or should that be bald – statement deserves your attendance! (The Fleece, 3.15pm)

Article by:

Martin Allen

As a lifelong music obsessive, Martin brings his extensive journalism experience to bear on reviewing some of the many gigs that make Bristol's music scene one of the liveliest in the country. Originally from London, he spends his time following AFC Wimbledon, tormenting his children with Dad Jokes, and getting out to see as much live music, comedy and theatre as possible.