Festival Frolics: Dots & Dashes' Fest Bests 2011.

Little lasts forever: an intergenerational, indefatigable belief in all things holy for many, an evening's opera for some. In a few short days of blurred memory every festival ends, and in a few months that seem equally brief, they're all done and dusted for another annum. The festival circuit is a circus, one berserk as fuck, and as with every circus it's lined with perilous swings and roundabouts, as "punters", pints, hopes and dreams swirl precariously amidst extortionate ethanol and commercialism-strewn pseudo-hedonism.

Far from devoid of the devastating lunges of the wrecking ball of time, as resplendent newcomers burn brighter than that presumably pretty radiant place every sky lantern ends up, so too once-staples of the circuit are unhinged and dwindle and lamentably, there is to be no Offset Festival this September out in shady Hainault suburbia. However, returning to the fore this summer, a plethora of reformed, reunited and reinvigorated artists longing for that illustrious ring round their moniker on the muck/rain/sun/indiscriminate stain-soaked programme. The majority of this season's essential acts fit concisely into this form of list-permitting categorisation, whilst others had to be bashed and bent a little. Here's who we've missed, why we've missed them, and where to get to in order to rekindle any lingering affections. In alphabetical order...

Why: For the sight of John Stanier outstretching a burly bicep to clatter a lofty cymbal, for the taste of flavoured vinyl, and for the sound of the future being crammed through a malformed time signature like Play-Doh that's lost of all sense of consistency. Few records have come close to the unabashed, improvised ambition of Gloss Drop in their absence either.
Where: Les Eurockéennes, Glastonbury.
  Battles - Futura by daftdreamy

The Books
Why: Live shows come at a premium, and the cutting, pasting, and hacking of self-help tape that eventually constructed the sonic collage that was The Way Out was enough to unhinge even the most sane sentient being a tad. An intense proposition at the inaugural UK leg of All Tomorrow's Parties' I'll Be Your Mirror.

The Cure
Why: Because it's Robert Smith et. al, because admiring that coiffure buttressed by innumerable cans of Freeze Hold that presumably houses approximately fourteen bats is as beguiling as it first was whenever, wherever it was you first set eyes on it, and because even the distinctly mediocre 4:13 Dream LP sounded veritably majestic last time out.

Death From Above 1979
Why: The renaissance of the most ear-shredding, vitriolic DRUM AND BASS imaginable has already wreaked rabid furore in Texan streets and despite deflating overblown delusions of grandeur in London last month, their return is as good an excuse as any to once more splatter that iconic imagery across bruised torso.

The Horrors
Why: From scatty, thrashy goth pop to foggy euphoria and on to the emulation of eighties-inspired, jubilant fist-flinging powerpop, Josh, Tom, Faris, Rhys, and Joe could imminently end up in any sonic landscape wherever you care to imagine, sounding like whatever their wildest whims instruct. They can, however, be tracked down in a field or two from now until September.
Where: Glastonbury, Rock en Seine.
  The Horrors - Still Life by 1FTP

The Mars Volta
Why: Omar and Cedric noodle down nooks and crannies more warped than Zappa's Baby Snakes. Juxtaposed with the grandiose surrounds of Knebworth House and you're faced with what promises to be a relatively weird one on Sonisphere's Saturn Stage.
Where: Sonisphere.
  The Mars Volta - The Widow by xarpi rio

PJ Harvey
Why: Let England Shake was a bone-shuddering, bona fide opus of startling emotivity, thus to be treated to nigh on its entirety ought to precipitate further quivering six months down the line, a line soundtracked largely by said record.

Why: Side-projects aside, or at least supporting, Bristol's best are to up sticks to North London to curate, nurture and headline both nights of ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror. They've done an astounding job in our book, what with approximately half the rundown featured on this very page, and that's without the inclusion of the likes of Beach House, Caribou, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Liars, Anika etc.

Why: The corporate claustrophobia of the O2 and snippets of piano medley hit somewhat tarnished His Purpleness' 2007 takeover of the Greenwich megaplex. Festival appearances are renowned for show-stopping setlists however, so congratulations are due to Vince Power for bagging what will surely be the most emphatic sign-off the Kent bash has had scrawled all over it in its short history thus far...

Why: For a rather meek bunch from Sheffield, the sheer extravagance of the overhead neon emblazoning of their (now-synonymous with Britpop) signature at Primavera Sound suggests that regardless of their motives for reconvening, Jarvis et al. mean to put the spectacle right back in the spectacular.

Why: Following the untimely passing of Paul Gray (or #2), question marks have lingered ominously over the public identity of the globe-trotting, Grammy-garnering Iowan outfit. It therefore comes as something of a relief, a poignant signal of intent, that they're to take to the motorways, autoroutes, and autobahns of Europe to headline the travelling Sonisphere roadshow, quite literally headbanging and quite possibly bleeding much of the way. They conclude the British leg on July 10th.

Tom Vek
Why: A Little Word In Your Ear, C-C (You Set The Fire In Me), Nothing But Green Lights married post-punk with lo-fi, disco with despondence and have stood up to and successfully confronted the tests of time. With sophomore LP Leisure Seizure just out, there ought to be just about enough material to fully flesh out a somewhat more sizeable set this time around...
The official sites to our selection of some of Europe's finest festivals, in chronological order, are thus:

Glastonbury / Hop Farm / Les Eurockéennes / Sonisphere / Dour / ATP I'll Be Your Mirror / Rock en Seine / Bestival.