With multi-venue neighbourhood crawls fastly becoming the favoured method of throwing a festival in the city, new ones are springing up all the time. This past weekend the Dot To Dot Festival took the focus away from the capital and into the clubs of Bristol and Nottingham, though thankfully not without giving us a little taste of things to come. Thursday's introductory mini-event, Hox To Dot, featured several of the artists that would go on to perform at the weekend, much to the enjoyment of those of us incapable of escaping the cozy confines of the M25.
After receiving our wristbands at the Hoxton Bar and Grill, it was off to The Macbeth for our first gig of the night. Given our late arrival, it was impossible to see San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees through the sea of people surrounding them, but thankfully we could hear them loud and clear. Playing a more rockin' set than we expected, this rougher edge of a Nuggets compilation was a fantastic way to jump start our evening. Despite their ability to kick up a dust storm of garage rock thunder, we would have liked the chance to hear more of the slower psychedelia that can be heard on their MySpace page. The Macbeth, however, is one of those spaces whose very walls demand dirty rock 'n' roll, so we can hardly fault the band for obliging.
From The Macbeth back to the Hoxton Bar and Grill, we arrived early for Eugene McGuinness so as not to miss a beat. Eugene McGuinness sits pleasantly positioned somewhere between 53rd and 3rd and Postcard, with just enough force behind the jangle to avoid falling over into twee. His fresh face and catchy guitar pop, not to mention his Liverpuddlian origins, remind us of a young Paul McCartney, though his lyrical focus carries a more wistful complexity, ensuring this lad won't need a Lennon anytime soon. Whilst we can't stop singing "Bold Street" to ourselves, we can't for the life of us find anywhere to buy the wonderful closing song about Shaftesbury Avenue. If it doesn't yet exist in recorded form, we'll have to go to another of Eugene's gigs soon just to hear it again.
In order to avoid a massive queue for the one act everyone wanted to see, once Eugene finished we returned to The Macbeth to stake out a spot for Dan Deacon's set. Dan Deacon doesn’t just play party music, he is a party person who actively gets a party started. Once the crowd surrounding him was slamming around and generally going mad, he provided further entertainment still with his wild dance competitions. Incredibly funny, Deacon constantly cracks jokes between songs, all the while baiting the audience with little quips. Though obviously put off by the large glass of water that soaked a piece of his equipment (putting it out of commission for the rest of the set), he commented, “I hate it when my stuff gets all wet because then I have less stuff.” Us too, Dan!
Hox To Dot operated on a much smaller scale than the previous week’s Stag and Dagger, as it was limited to five venues near Hoxton Square. There were no mad dashes from pub to pub, making it a true crawl rather than the marathon sprint its larger counterparts have become. The only part we'd change is to place it on a Friday rather than a school night, so we could stay out late with impunity. Barring that small gripe, however, the organisers of this Dot To Dot prelude may just have discovered the perfect recipe for a musical pub crawl: keep the scope reasonable and the price low and happy punters you shall have.
With contributions from Amanda Farah