First Review: Dot To Dot 2011, Nottingham
Jamie Barker joins the dots in the Midlands
The sprawling Nottingham cityscape has been home to Dot to Dot Festival for several years now and even though it's since morphed into a three-day, multi-city beast it's immediately clear today that the people of Nottingham still stake some sort of ownership claim as they loudly boast of previous experience while impatiently queuing for entry.
Baby Godzilla open proceedings and they manage to make enough noise to wake up the whole city; unfortunately they don't really do much else of note during their short set. Long Dead Signal are the hangover from the day Matt Bellamy swapped his originality and talent for a zany keyboard player and a pair of umberella-toting ladies. When an audience member loudly asks "what the hell is this?" he's met with a chorus of equally bemused shoulder-shrugging.
Locals Spotlight Kid seem to be the first band to force a solid audience reaction, until it becomes clear that the enthusiastic bellowing is being aimed at Mat 'Gavin' Horne blushing on the balcony before his late night DJ set. A nasty clash between Swimming and Stagecoach is the first real test of the day, but when the Stagecoach set climaxes with half the band's instruments in the crowd, their singer laying on the floor and a clutch of frantic pop hits buzzing around the audience's heads it's clear that the right decision was reached.
Ed Sheeran may be attracting praise from every angle at the moment but his early evening Rock City set loses some of its charm when you're forced to fish out the delicate genius from amongst the tramp-stamped blondes bellowing marriage proposals and complimenting his looks. It's inevitable that he's going to be making much bigger waves in the near future but today it's the negative aspects of a rapidly increasing profile which have the bigger impact on his show.
The Naked And Famous may want to rethink their set pacing slightly, as delivering 'Punching In A Dream' two songs in sees a lot of people already fulfilling their intentions for the performance and making a hasty exit. Regardless of this slight faux pas they stir up a hive of activity in Rock City's main room with their live show bolstering the line-up and proving a much more head-pummeling prospect than their studio output. Outside there's a man in full oompa loompa get-up. He may not look like the coolest of characters amongst the skinny jeans, leather jackets and plaid but he makes the bold statement that the people of Nottingham don't need a festival fancy dress theme to show their true colours.
Trent University greets Dananananaykroyd with slight indifference but their frontmen quickly win over support by embracing every person standing on the barrier. Their set balances old favourites with tracks from their forthcoming second album and the members spend more time off the stage than on it. The set finishes early and it leaves us feeling a little cold; strange, as it featured everything we've come to expect from a Dananananaykroyd show... but maybe that's the problem.
It can be difficult to get back on the horse when you've not managed to recapture the quirky flame of your debut release, causing a sense of indifference from many parties; but We Are Scientists have never been a band to take things with any degree of seriousness. They plough their way through everything the crowd wants to hear and it sounds so good that they play along when the band then delve into new song territory. After a day fairly lacking in sing along gusto it quickly becomes clear that We Are Scientists have been caught red-handed for taking more of their fair share.
Whether it's something spiritual or just the 'we were here first' arrogance, Nottingham will always be the true home of Dot to Dot and it really comes across from the attitude here compared to other cities. It may only have been The Rescue Rooms which were full enough to refuse entry at any point today but there is definitely a lot of love for the event and plenty of legs left to run on to next year and beyond.