Paddy Burke spends a Sunday in Nottingham checking out the second of three Dot To Dot Festivals over the weekend...
Overall – 8/10
The second in a trio of events happening in the country this Bank Holiday weekend, the Nottingham leg of Dot to Dot Festival takes place across eight different stages in the city centre. Based on the Camden Crawl template of bringing together a cluster of established live music venues to form a single ticket event, Dot to Dot bridges the gap between the London event’s celebration of the unsigned and unknown, and the big name bills of the well-known outdoor festivals. With the likes of Mystery Jets, Beach House, Ellie Goulding and Los Campesinos! on the bill, as well as a host of DJs led by Radio 1’s Zane Lowe, £25 a ticket to party from early afternoon until five in the morning could be the bargain of the summer.
Getting there and back – 9/10
Smack in the middle of Nottingham city centre, you could arrive by plane, train or automobile, or even on one of Nottingham’s trams and reach the site without any problem. This being a Sunday, you can also park more or less outside the venues, almost unheard of for a city festival. A mark off only because the last train out on a Sunday is about 9pm.
The site – 8/10
Of the eight stages, Rock City (which has two), Rescue Rooms and Stealth (which also has two) are next door to each other, and Trent Uni’s two stages are practically across the road, meaning the bulk of the activity is all within a few minutes walk; nearer than on many of the purpose-built sites of the outdoor festivals. The other venue, Bodega, isn’t much more than five minutes walk away, though a sense of direction and a relative level of sobriety come in handy when trying to negotiate the city’s shopping district to find it. As close to each other as they are, the fact that all the stages are indoor means there isn’t wind to blow the sound off into the hills. There’s also no chance of rain stopping play and unless they’re an essential part of your outfit, no need for wellies.
Atmosphere – 8/10
The uncomfortable trend of festival punters being there to showcase themselves and their fancy dress costumes rather than for the music doesn’t seem to have affected Dot to Dot yet. The crowd are knowledgeable - with many of the good but lesser-known bands pulling in decent numbers - and attentive to the music as it’s being performed. They are also respectful of the city environment, with little sign of litter or festival casualties being strewn around the streets between venues. Though the stages feel full during each act, there are barely any queues to speak of, and with the sun shining down, trams going by, and surrounded by some beautiful historic buildings, the whole effect is a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere in which to enjoy the music.
Boat To Row – 8/10
There doesn’t seem to be many punters around the site when this Sheffield band open the festival at 2.45pm in the Trent Uni main room, but once inside, it’s clear a fair few people have been impressed by what they’ve heard on Myspace. Some Johnny Flynn-style concoctions in big band format complete with violin, glockenspiel and some sweet vocal harmonies win over new fans and have some wondering whether they’ve already seen the best band of the day.
Blood Red Shoes – 7/10
You wouldn’t think, in this age of multi-instrumentalists and abundant musical technology, there’d still be room for a band consisting of just a guitar and drums, but Blood Red Shoes have the Rock City main hall packed to the rafters at 6pm and ignite the first mosh pit of the day with a solid, high-octane performance.
Wild Beasts – 7/10
Wild Beasts may not be everyone’s cup of tea, their screeched falsetto vocals being addictive to some and like fingernails scraping down a blackboard to others, but there’s no doubt that seeing them live is an enthralling experience, sounding more like purveyors of Yeasayer-style Brooklyn percussion than operatic popsters from the Lake District.
Beach House – 10/10
As much quality as there may be on the line-up, there’s no doubt the festival belongs to Beach House. As the disco ball hanging from the ceiling of Trent Uni main room revolves, so the whole of Nottingham seems to revolve around this stage, transfixed as Beach House hold sway, Victoria Legrand at their centre, her voice echoing around the deepest caverns of our souls.
Los Campesinos! – 7/10
With eight musicians and about 15 different instruments, the sound engineer needs to be an octopus to cope and Los Campesinos! struggle at first to get their message across. But when it comes together, they still possess the passion and vigour that made them such an exciting prospect in the first place, and the explosive ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ towards the end of the set sees Dot to Dot finally go berserk.
Lawson – 3/10
Manufactured boy band cock popsters Lawson do their coiffured best to lower the standard in the Rock City basement to a deservedly small crowd. Radio 1’s Big Weekend was a couple of weeks ago lads. Go away.
Fun – 2/10
The poor old Rock City basement never did any harm to anyone, but its name is sullied once more by the cartoon karaoke of Fun, who are anything but. Perhaps this was a warm up for their X Factor audition, but they should have no place at a music festival.
Daisy Dares You – 4/10
The fact that Daisy Dares You are headlining the Trent Uni Pulse Bar shows that someone on the Dot to Dot organising committee has a sense of humour. How this helium-voiced Avril Lavigne wannabe ever got past playing her local pub is a mystery.
Members of terrible band Sharks, wearing their own band t-shirts, practically sprinting in to the Rock City basement to bop along to fellow terrible band Lawson. Birds of a (musically deluded and utterly talentless) feather…
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