The Bank Holiday weekend saw the return of Dot to Dot Festival, the premiere multi-city, multi-venue festival in the UK, taking place in Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol. Undeterred by recent events, the festival went ahead as planned and the crowds were not left disappointed.
By Graeme Smith
Feature Photo: Vagabon by Ebru Yildiz
Nottingham’s event took place on Sunday, across a bumper array of venues from the headlining Rock City to pubs and bars across the city centre and Hockley areas. For underground indie, it seemed the Bodega was the venue of choice and even as stage openers Taco Hell started to play, the place was packed. It was a testament to the local band that they had drawn so many out so early and the self-styled “dreamo-punkx” got a big reaction with a unique mix of plinky math-rock spliced with noisy pop-punk. Male and female vocals and memorable refrains left a lasting impression even as they left the stage.
As the afternoon drew on, it was time for something a little quieter. First it was local act Rue Royale at The Malt Cross. The Anglo-American indie folk duo provided mournful male-female harmonies meshed with acoustic guitar and electric synths to make a mesmerising, rhythmic sound. Both members seemingly ambi-dexterous, it wasn’t unusual to see either of them playing a different instrument which each hand, all while singing.
Sadly, some confusion with the timings meant we missed York-based acoustic rocker Harrison Rimmer at the Ned Ludd, and critically-acclaimed Vagabon was just finishing her set at The Bodega when it was due to start. Catching the last song of Vagabon’s set showed why she has been garnering so much attention, however. With stripped-back electric guitar and electro beats, she sounded something like a mix of Florence And The Machine and Tracey Chapman and her powerful voice captivated the audience.
Closing the afternoon was mellow indie singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas in The Bodega Bar and acoustic RnB artist Ajay Young at Broadway Cinema. Canadian Hannah was performing her final show in the UK for a while and treated the packed Bodega Bar with a powerful set of songs that would fit nicely on an ‘80s film soundtrack. Ajay gave the audience at The Broadway a slice of something different, finishing his stripped-back set with a mashup that stirred together Blackstreet, Macklmore and The Backstreet Boys.
Our day ended with two bands. Back at The Bodega Bar, Kolkata-based Parehk and Singh were setting up their impressive array of keys and percussion for their much-anticipated set. Channelling the kooky indie-pop of Belle and Sebastian, they delighted with funky bass, diverse percussion and electronic whimsy. Nishay Parekh provided heart-melting vocals a little reminiscent of The Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant.
Then finally it was much-hyped The Big Moon at Notts Trent Uni. The four-piece have already built up something of a loyal audience who were delighted at the revelation of each song, with a big cheer coming for Cupid. Though overtly influenced by ‘90s grunge, what’s setting The Big Moon apart is their diversity of genres, and there were subtle hints of reggae and ‘70s guitar virtuoso influences in their music. Their set also included a high-energy punk cover of Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger. “She’s my mum,” lead singer Juliette joked. “Secretly, though.”
Dot to Dot proved itself once again to be a festival which provides something for everyone. It’s clever use of existing venues, set right in the city centre, continues to set it apart, as well as its ability to launch the headliners of the future.
Dot To Dot Festival, Nottingham took place on Sunday 28 May 2017.