This review very nearly never happened after my evening was curtailed by a heavy-handed security guard. After Dry the River had ended at 9:30, I still had plans for more bands but, alas, the ‘incident’ happened. The review, therefore, is short. The bad feelings that surround the end to my day is longer. Read on for details…
Date: May 26, 2013
Venues: Notingham, various
When Nottingham hosts the roving urban festival Dot to Dot, the last thing punters want is sunshine when all the bands are indoors. But, like previous sun-kissed events (apart from last year, when the heavens opened), the sun shines, the indie kids come out in force and the mood is a blissed-out one. It’s almost Balearic.
So, although it seems a shame to go inside, there’s temptation awaiting within the Rescue Rooms’ walls. PINS are a formidable female foursome, like Hole with a C86 Manchester glaze; part shoegazing atmospherics, part visceral rock. They are brilliant, and at just 2.30pm, deserve a loftier perch.
Equally visceral are Best Friends in the Red Room; their skater punk attracting a sizeable, appreciative audience.
I Am Lono, meanwhile, don’t quite pull in the sun-worshipping crowd who decide to gather outside Stealth rather than view this local band’s synth-rock dalliances. They use the much-maligned drum machine to augment their spiky output, and sound like Sparks without the nonsense.
At Jongleurs, the Ruen Brothers are like the Jersey Boys if they were from Scunthorpe. Classic rock ‘n’ roll is their flavour, heavily influenced by early Beatles and Stones. There are elements of the Arctic Monkeys in there is well, making for a blistering late afternoon set.
At Rock City, the crowd are bouncing for Brummie shoegazers Swim Deep. Imagine Ride with a Charlatans lick and you’ve got their sound.
Down in the basement are Northern Ireland’s great white hope, A Plastic Rose. Championed by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and with pundits waxing lyrical over their alt.rock pomp and showmanship, their future is bright.
Talking of bright futures Tom Odell comes with something of a reputation, having been lauded over by so many musos. He attracts the biggest crowd of the day so far at Rock City, as his piano-led jamboree laps up the praise from the young crowd. So young, in fact, that they look bemused when he covers the Stones’ ‘Honky Tonk Woman’. With a full band swelling his oeuvre, including a double bass, he’s impressive, and if it wasn’t for the classy and mesmeric Dry The River who follow him, he may have stole the show.
But Dry The River’s Mumford and Sons-surpassing folk-rock is at times soothing and dreamy whilst surprisingly cacophonous. Loud, proud and transcendental, they shine brighter than the Nottingham sunshine and are this year’s highlight.
So, my review ends with Dry The River at the ridiculously early time of 9:30. Why? Well because on my way out of Rock City, in a rush to the Rescue Rooms where soul-dance pioneer Bipolar Sunshine is on stage, I try to exit via a gap in the barriers. It’s here where I am told I cannot exit. No reason, no “Sorry, mate, but could you go round, please?”, just a hostile reception. After I’d explained my reasons for trying to get out quickly, and with him now physically ushering me away, the next thing I know I’m in a chokehold by a second security guard who has took it upon himself to use his training and take my down by affectively rendering me lifeless. Anyone who’s ever been in a chokehold will know that, with brute force behind the move, it’s difficult to move and indeed breath. With my VIP wristband snatched off my wrist, and with a few neck injuries and visual marks, I’m led down Talbot street and out of the perimeter fence like a felon. Again, I try to reason but you can’t talk to these people. So, my night ends at 9:30, with Bipolar Sunshine, Lucy Rose, Chapel Club and Deap Vally all missed thanks to some unnecessary nonsense from a heavy-handed bouncer. To be fair to Rock City and the DHP Group who run the event, they have apologised. But the matter is still, as I type, in the hands of Nottinghamshire police who will view the CCTV footage and decide whether I can press charges of assault. Watch this space…