As the Royal family got piss-wet through on the Thames flotilla as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, I was busy avoiding the rain in numerous Nottingham venues for the annual Dot to Dot festival.
Date: June 3
Venues: Rock City, Rock City Basement, Rescue Rooms, Bodega, Jongleurs
With celebratory Jubilee plans ruined, and with everyone caught up in jingoistic lingo as a result of the rain washing away patriotic smiles quicker than you can say “Thames flotilla”, what better way to party than an indoor frenzy of music at Nottingham’s annual sprawling urban jamboree, the Dot to Dot Festival?
And this year it feels like a home game, with 26 Nottingham-based bands performing.
Fitting, then, that local band Yunioshi open things up at 1.30 in the Rescue Rooms. Their set is a bass-heavy digitalised dalliance of Kasabian-goes-Balearic blissed-out beats and scattered rhythms. It’s a good start to the day, and any band that offers their audience cakes cannot fail.
Upstairs in the Red Room is another local band, Wanderlings. They look like they’ve been dragged through a charity shop backwards with a style that even Gok Wan would baulk at, but they sound brilliant; like The Mystery Jets at their enigmatic best.
More Nottingham nous comes via Grey Hairs at Jongleurs, whose scream-core output is welcomed by a large crowd.
But perhaps the most anticipated show of the day is Jake Bugg’s tea-time set at Rock City. Jake is fast-becoming something of a local-boy-done-good. His recent appearance on Jools Holland’s Later show gave him a great deal of exposure, and his set is witnessed by a huge crowd. He’s confident, strident, and in no way daunted by his biggest audience to date. He’s cut himself a niche in the market – sounding like The Las’ and Cast’s John Power doing Johnny Cash with an Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) twist. His songs are short but impressive.
Dog Is Dead are now notorious Nottingham mainstays, and they once again prove their worth at Rock City with their sexy sax-driven wonk-pop.
Elsewhere, local lass Nina Smith plays to a packed Bodega. Her’s is a sassy, elegant and beatific oeuvre, and even her odd mash-up of The Police’s Message in a Bottle and The Spice Girls’ Two Become One somehow works, while her cover of R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts is a haunting homage.
It’s not all about Nottingham, though. Willy Mason couldn’t be any more American if he tried, with his dusty lovelorn folk songs, while Brooklyn’s The Drums offer up a dose of US surf-pop.
So Dot to Dot laughed in the face of the typical British weather, and pulled off a jubilant show that even Her Majesty would be proud of. One assumes…