Festival Frolics: Dot to Dot 2011 Fest Bests.

As the dying embers of the scholastic season dwindle, their charred ashes are thrown to the wind and whisked away by the segueing festival-fuelled estival months, and whilst some of us struggle and strive away with presentations, dissertations, gruelling exams etc., a handful of metropolitan festivals have already bustled up some hype (see Camden Crawl/Stag & Dagger), propelling daydreams of lukewarm lager, mires of sludge and a band or two to the fore of frontal lobes. This weekend it's the turn of DHP Group's tripartite Dot to Dot, taking over Bristol (Saturday), Nottingham (Sunday), and Manchester (Monday) for a myriad-city, myriad-venue, myriad-breaking band jamboree. Previous editions have seen the likes of Beach House, Foals, Late Of The Pier, Klaxons, The xx, Liars, Spiritualized and Patrick Wolf hike from Southwest to Midland to Northwest, and we'd hazard a guess that someone or other from Cults, Trophy Wife, Fixers or SBTRKT may well be added to that rather illustrious list at some point soon. You probably already know exactly who you're wanting to see, although if you're needing of a nudge of inspiration (and happen to be headed for the Bristol leg RE:timings), we've dissected this year's line up, and the salvaged vital organs of a day out West are, in chronological order:

Niki & The Dove
Who: Malin Dahlström + Gustaf Karlöf + a smidgen of euphoric optimism ÷ quintessentially Scandinavian electro frigidity = Niki & The Dove
Why: They played their first ever London headline show this week. Twitter nigh on imploded and those in Electrowerkz almost overheated with sheer glee. Few acts ever get round to conjuring anything as spine-tingling as Dj, Ease My Mind, and fewer could even fathom the majestic Mother Protect. This is what Fever Ray may have sounded like were Karin Dreijer Andersson keen on fruit salad and neon paints in place of darkness, silence, despondence and stuff. Essential.
When: Thekla, 5pm
  Mother Protect by Niki & The Dove

Who: Vocalist Catherine Pockson and keyboardist Bob Matthews constitute 'night pop' duo Alpines. They come from that dark, dank and undiscovered bit of London south of the Thames. Eerie. It's a tricky task following up Niki & The Dove on this screen, let alone in the same evening, in reality, although a little melodrama goes a long way and, seemingly, a little retrospective synth pop goes even further these days...
Why: Press play on Drive (below) and it'll be entrapped in the musical locker of your cerebrum 'til the weekend anyhoo. Your heart may well will for the pseudo-raunch of The Naked And Famous, yet your brain will long for Alpines. Listen to the contents of your head, and let the gelid brainwashing commence.
When: Thekla, 7pm
  Drive by Alpines

Who: Canadian quartet Braids draw on tripped out ambience that fruitfully loops and laps over onto itself, galloping perkily into warped vocal harmonies. Were this year's Native Speaker EP personified, it'd skip through crop-lined fields swizzling dandelions and sucking on Sherbet Dib Dab. 
Why: Lemonade is one of few tracks ever to have been shoved up on Dots & Dashes twice. They'll only play it once, and Dot to Dot is one of only two festivals they're booked in for over here thus far. The other is Lounge On The Farm, and that's scheduled for July. Best shake and fizz this weekend...
When: Cooler, 7.30pm
  BRAIDS - "Lemonade" by BRAIDS

Who: Worcester, Massachusetts' prime purveyors of warm, fuzzy electropop, DOM max out on serotonin, presumably dining on an exclusive diet of E numbers, equalling a grand total of 0/5 of the recommended fruit/veg/juice-a-day.
Why: Guaranteed to squeeze ounces, no, pounds of showmanship out of a fairly short, presumably particularly sweet show.
When: Thekla, 8pm
  Living in America by DOM

The Joy Formidable
Who: 2/3 Welsh, 1/3 English, 43/3 ffantasteg, The Joy Formidable, having done the business in the music business entirely on their own terms, now feature in the form books of many.
Why: Their A Balloon called moaning EP of 2009 continues to engross and although their debut LP proper The Big Roar was a little underwhelming comparatively, clinging onto their ascending dirigible has been nothing but exhilarating thus far. Catch them cram the venue used for everything from maths exams to martial arts, yoga to DJ Yoda with unabashed sonority.
When: Anson Rooms, 8.15pm
  Austere (The Naked And Famous Remix) by thejoyformidable

Few will outlast the perennial We Are Scientists (who headline alongside Hurts, The Naked And Famous, Guillemots and ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead), although all here enlisted ought to prove significantly more enthralling. Tickets for the imminent Dot to Dot can be found here: Bristol/Nottingham/Manchester, whilst more info can be found here on the festival's official site.