It’s Friday, and Bluedot feels like it’s ramping up for the weekend. People are packed into the Orbit tent like sardines, expectant and ready for action. “Conceptual pop mistress” Jane Weaver kicks off the evening’s proceedings with a blinding set, fusing cosmic psych, krautrock, synth and acid-folk vibes to mesmeric effect. 

Jane Weaver Photo: Lucas Sinclair

Backed by kaleidoscopic visuals, ‘Flock’ is all swirling, sun-dappled acid-folk, laced with oscillating electronics. And on the soaring ‘I Wish’, Weaver sashays around the stage, bathed in pink and orange light as she belts out “I wish you were cool”, hitting high notes with ease. Proper goosebumps territory. But the best is saved for last, as the storming motorik feels and killer hooks of ‘I Need A Connection’ spark a dance frenzy, which is still going strong as the song dissipates in a delicious vortex of electronic vworping. 

Next up is Sofia Kourtesis. Based in Berlin, some of that city’s after-dark sounds have clearly rubbed off on the talented Peruvian producer. Here, silhouetted against a bright white screen, she’s full of life, an animated and electrifying presence. Flanked by synths and kit, she’s all hands to the pump, pumping out bone-shaking techno, banging pads, twiddling knobs and yelling down the mic as a sea of heads bobs up and down in front of her. “I’m so happy to see your beautiful faces,” she shouts, as the sublime boom and crash of another track kicks in. Behind her, hypnotic, Escher-like visuals feel like they’re sucking us in. 

An assured performer, Kourtesis rains down fat beats thick and fast, keeping us locked into her tumultuous groove. The high point is probably ‘I Protect You’, its clattering synths like the Pet Shop Boys on a clubby tip, but it’s been a joyous, barnstorming set. Sofia, so good. Friday night is getting real.

Kelly Lee Owens Photo: Jody Hartley

Welsh electronicist Kelly Lee Owens has a similar set-up to Kourtesis and she’s just as restless, hurtling headlong into banging IDM, euphoric tech house and glacial synth excursions. From the off, we’re enveloped by wave after wave of slinky deep bass, pulsating electronics and maximal arpeggiations. The towering, dreamlike ‘Lucid’ is shimmeringly good too, with more of those arresting visuals to boot, like the opening sequence to a 1970s sci-fi programme. At times, it feels like we’re in the middle of an installation at Tate Modern.

Kelly Lee Owens Photo: Jody Hartley

Then the techno gets progressively punchier, bleeps ricocheting around the tent, with Owens yelping and shouting over the top. Head bowed, stabbing at a synth and immersed in her own sounds, she’s at full pelt, engineering a full-on sonic assault – complex and unhinged yet deeply visceral and thrilling. One round of laser-fire and white noise later, it’s all over. Owens exits, and we’re left dazed and breathless. It’s been one heck of a ride. 

Public Service Broadcasting Photo: Scott Salt

A last-minute replacement for Spiritualized, and well-versed in space-y themes, Public Service Broadcasting are a perfect fit for Bluedot. They stride on looking resplendent in Daz-white shirts and suits, a loose tribute to Bowie’s Thin White Duke. We all know the well-thumbed PSB formula by now – propulsive guitar surges, electronics and archive samples – and it works a treat again here. 

Backed by projections of old film stock and as-live onstage footage, signature tracks such as ‘Spitfire’, ‘Everest’, ‘Gagarin’ and the infectious ‘Go!’ are rolled out to a raucous response. Feeding off the energy of the packed tent, the band exchange knowing smiles and nods throughout, clearly enjoying themselves. Bassist JF Abraham urges the crowd to clap and cheer, while Wrigglesworth thrapes the drums like his life depends on it. And looking every inch the frontman, J Willgoose, Esq cuts a dash in white garb and bow tie, tendrils of hair falling just so as he teases riffs from his guitar, nonchalantly tapping at pedals and keys as he goes.

There’s the obligatory “astronaut” appearance during ‘Gagarin’, as a fella runs on a silver space suit and helmet, throwing shapes. Great fun. And from PSB’s current album ‘Bright Magic’ – an atmospheric and “impressionistic” take on Berlin – we get the punchy power pop of ‘Blue Heaven’ and the vocoded earworm that is ‘People, Let’s Dance’, both featuring EERA on pitch-perfect vocals. Channelling Kraftwerk, New Order and Depeche Mode, the latter track is arguably the highlight of the set so it’s no surprise when the tent erupts. As last-minute replacements go, PSB are an inspired – and wholly serendipitous – choice. 

Tickets for Bluedot 2023 are on sale now at

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