Dot to Dot 2017

I love this urban shindig. But this year I had a problem with it. 35 venues? Really? Too many. Keep it real D2D

Date: May 28, 2017

Venues: Too many to mention. 35 in total including Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Stealth, Bodega, Notts Uni…the list goes on.

You know the Dot to Dot Festival format by now. A multi-venue urban festival in which every band plays inside on a baking day at the end of May. Except that one time in June, on the Queen’s Coronation, when it lashed it down.

But in-keeping with the norm, this year’s festival has once again fallen on what feels like the hottest day of the year. Every venue is a sweat box, loaded with (largely drunken) young people eager to catch the next big thing or a local artist.

Ticket sales have been strong again, but if there is to be one criticism it’s that it appears to have become Dot to Hockley Hussle. There are 35 venues this year. 35! A large proportion of these are in Hockley, with trendy bars squeezing artists into a nook or a cranny. It’s become too big. And while you could argue that ‘At least there is something for everyone’, the focus of the festival appears to have been diluted. 35 venues for a 12-hour festival is stretching things too far.

It’ll be interesting to see if the organisers feel that this many venues worked or not.

Also, the big names of former festivals are absent. The focus seems to have shifted to highlight local talent and up-and-coming stars and starlets, and it’s the latter, Liv Dawson, who we’ll start with. Highly-rated by her peers, 18-year-old Londoner Liv sounds like Mariah mixed with Winehouse at Rock City. She has harmonies which float gorgeously over her band’s tempered synths and beats, and the afternoon audience slowly warm to her warbling.

Over at the Student Union, Derby/Nottingham 5-piece Babe Punch are experts in sassy, grungy alt-rock. They’re four girls and one boy (on drums) who despite robbing the opening riff from The White Stripes’ Fell In Love With A Girl, their output is a snarling racket. Kudos for giving Chris Isaac’s Wicked Games an abrasive twist, too.

Glaswegian duo Honeyblood have drawn an almost capacity crowd at Rock City. Despite it being only 5pm, the place is packed for their blistering lo-fi post-grunge with super cute pop tunes.

Back at the Uni, one-time also-rans but now big time Charlies – due to their honed live shows and excellent recent album – it’s The Big Moon. They just keep on getting better and better. Excellent guitar pop; killer riffs, stellar tunes and smooth harmonies.

The Rescue Rooms plays host to two bands to keep an eye on. All We Are are all Motorik indie-rock, each song building to a mighty crescendo, while Manchester’s Slow Readers Club start where Joy Division and New Order left off, extending the lineage of post-punk from that region. The new New Order perhaps?

At Rock City, Nottingham’s own Amber Run (pictured) have packed out the venue, the crowd hungry for their impassioned, emosional pop. Songs like Noah remind us just why we fell in love with this band in in first place.

Headlining Rock City are indie-pop wunderkinds Sundara Karma. Their name suggests hippies, as does their collective long-hair. But there’s nothing niche about these hirsute fellas, they make Rock City bounce. Literally, the floor boards shift for every one of the exuberant indie-pop belters.

Just because the music has ended at Rock City doesn’t mean that’s that. It continues into the night. At 11pm at Rough Trade, the ‘best band in Nottingham’ Kagoule provoke crowd surfing, stage diving and moshing with their angular post-punk meets alt.rock, and further bands at the Bodega and DJ sets give punters younger than your reviewer the chance to dance.

Too many venues? Perhaps, but it is and always will be one of the best dates on Nottingham’s musical calendar.