The story of Dot to Dot 2014 us undoubtedly the fact that former child star Macauley Culkin walked off stage after getting booed and then becoming drenched by a beerbomb whilst performing with his pizza-themed Velvet Underground parody act, The Pizza Underground. It trended on Twitter and made local and national headlines. But aside from that, there was plenty more on offer at this amazing, expanding urban festival.
Date: May 25, 2014
Chants of “pizza, pizza, pizza” permeate the stifling air at Rock City, as the expectant crowd watch a large TV showing images of swirling pizzas before much-hyped Macaulay Culkin-fronted New Yorkers, The Pizza Underground, take to the stage.
“Hello Cleveland”, announces our star for no apparent reason, greasy hair tumbling down his face, shades hiding his eyes, a slight beard adorning his chin.
“How are you kids doing? Do you like pizza? Do you like songs about pizza? Good, cus that’s literally all we do”, he quips, before handing out 14″ pizzas to the front row.
What? Who? Why exactly? Yes, former Home Alone cherub and faded celebrity Culkin has formed a band. A band that takes classics from the Velvet Underground and covers them, only with a pizza theme. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes it is that stoopid.
“Take a bite and pass it on”, he continues before the music starts. And that’s when things begin to get ugly. A Pizza Day (A Perfect Day given the pizza treatment) is just one of a few malnourished, undercooked songs they deliver.
The reaction is split between applause and boos, and a few beer-laden missiles are launched stagewards.
“Why throw beer? I’d rather drink it”, shouts Culkin via an unsettled voice. It was probably the worst thing he could have siad at this juncture, as more beerbombs are aimed towards the band, with Culkin being the main target.
The band continue, playing instruments including an actual pizza box until, just as Culkin is about to perform his customery kazoo solo, a beery missile connects with its target. He gets soaked. It’s at this point that our ‘star’ calls “Show’s over guys”, and he sulks off stage, taking his bewildered band with him.
Unfortunately, some people like an easy target. And Culkin fell foul of this. He was a sitting duck up there. Had the concept have been better maybe he wouldn’t have got a drenching, but the pizza-themed parody of some classic works was half-baked and tasteless. No one should ever be subject to missiles from the crowd, but a Hollywood reject combined with a terrible idea was never going to end well.
Despite this low-point, albeit an entertaining one, Dot to Dot did offer some excellent stuff elsewhere.
Young Kato played at the Bodega last year and share some similarities with Dog is Dead, both musically and folically. Think poodle perm. Their set at the University had more bounce than Zebedee.
At Rock City, Wolf Alice don’t know it yet but they’re a contender for festival highlight. Ellie Roswell, the band’s Lana Del Rey-esque attractive front woman looks radiant in a pink flowery dress.
Musically, they shift from layered indie-rock to echoic, smouldering anthems seemlessly. The hazy Blush is mesmeric, while Bros’s simple “oooohhh” chorus, backed by a swell of noise, is superb. The band are clearly overjoyed by the emphatic crowd reaction, and both Ellie and her bassist enter the crowd as they close their scintillating set.
Superfood show a Basement crowd why they are so hotly tipped. A ferocious display of tune-heavy indie rock is exactly the tonic needed after the stale pizza show.
White Lung at Stealth belong at the Hit The Deck festival such is their noisy, post-riot grrrl shtick, while the beautiful Kyla La Grange at the Rescue Rooms is more coherent. She showcases a blissed-out Balearic vibe amidst a backdrop of searching electronica, and vocals rich in pathos.
The late evening entertainment has its highlights in the form of local lads Sleaford Mods, whose acerbic, profane social commentary and punk-poetry is backed by programmed beats at The Corner; Nottingham’s Kagoule, whose fiery alt-rock is a hit at Spanky van Dykes, while the woozy, laid-back Americana of Real Estate closes the Rescue Rooms.
That trio provided the perfect topping to another brilliant roving festival, even if some artists would have been better off staying at home (alone).