When the announcement was made about Nottingham hosting an alternative version of the annual family-friendly pop-fest that is the Splendour festival, held on the same picturesque park on the outskirts of the city, I got a little excited. Then, when London Grammar were announced as the headline act, that excitement swelled.
However since that moment, the announcements were of a more dance-orientated nature. Eton Messy, Duke Dumont, Dollop DJs…where is the indie, the punk, the sludge-core math-metal? Where is the ‘alternative’ stuff. Well there isn’t any, it’s actually more poppy and mainstream than its big brother, Splendour, who this year have the Happy Mondays and Razorlight on their line-up. Still, the sun shone and, well, it was pretty damn good…
Date: June 7, 2014
Venue: Wollaton Park, Nottingham
No Tomorrow is the newborn little brother of Splendour, Nottingham’s premier festival. Splendour’s younger sibling was billed as the ‘Alternative Splendour’, but with a set list that includes chart behemoths like Clean Bandit, Sam Smith and London Grammar, not to mention Nottingham’s golden girl, Indiana, it’s grown fast, and includes arguably the more FM-friendly artists, making Splendour seem like the alternative version.
First up are local lads Wolf Club. Based just over the border in Ripley, they’re at No Tomorrow by virtue of winning a band competition. And deservedly so.
The trio produce synth-rock via programmed beats blurring from a laptop and a scratchy guitar riff that drills into your cerebrum. They’re like Two Door Cinema Club gone electro. As openings go, this was a corker.
Afterdark Movement are an eight-piece from Nottingham who somehow marry funk, reggae, soul, jazz and hip hop without it sounding like an abomination. Their fervour and enthusiasm in their mid-afternoon set is to be commended. And they bring the sun out, too!
When the live music stops the DJs keep the vibe alive in the now Balearic weather. Wollaton Park has dramatically shifted from gloomy middle England to a blissed out Marbella pool party. Without the pool.
“This is my first ever gig”, admits Bruno Major nervously, amidst his Tom Odell-meets-Harry Connick Jnr set on the main stage. He’s followed by Jess Glynne, who’s crystalline vocals you may be familiar with on Clean Bandit’s Rather Be, which she performs much to the delight of an ever-increasing crowd. She also proves that she can hold her own in the big league with her glossy R ‘n’ B.
While DJ Duke Dumont drops his tunes to a tent-busting audience over in the Big Top, Notts wunderkind Indiana starts the evening’s entertainment on the main stage. Her sexy, sassy electronica is both slinky and pumping, and she looks immaculate. It’s just a pity most of the crowd were more interested in Duke. They missed out, big time.
Clean Bandit’s Rather Be has been heard already so no point in catching them, right? Wrong. Their mash of classical dalliances and modern electronica is superb, not to mention a dabble in old-skool UK garage. And you can’t hear Rather Be too many times anyway.
There’s a conflict next. Is it zeitgeist-smothering soul-dance pioneer Sam Smith on the main stage or proper old-skool garage revolutionists Artful Dodger in the small tent? Smith offers an intriguing mash of dance (Money On My Mind) and chilled-out vibes (Stay With Me) while Artful Dodger provide that halcyon dance down memory lane, with Re-Rewind (minus Craig David) the obvious smash.
To end this inaugural event and to bring the pace down to major ‘chill out’ are London Grammar, a band whose genesis is at the University of Nottingham. Hannah Reid provides the haunting vocals to their icy electronica, with Hey Now and Strong showcasing her vocals and the band’s mesmeric hold superbly.
As Metal and Dust ends in a drum ‘n’ bass cruscendo, No Tomorrow’s debut is over. And what a debut. No Tomorrow, big future.