This year’s Dot to Dot Festival took place across May bank holiday weekend, in Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol. It’s always been a more indie/indie-pop oriented festival, but this year they peppered in some wonderful surprises including The Hotelier and Single Mothers. We were lucky enough to head down to the Nottingham date.
Rather than Slam Dunk, Dot to Dot caught my eye this year. The Hotelier, especially, was what convinced me to go. Although, when the stage times were released a few days before the festival I was totally thrown. All of the bands I wanted to see were on between midnight and three in the morning at The Bodega. Oh well. We found some other stuff to do during the day.
Our first act was Alex Hel, who’s played Seeing Your Scene shows in Nottingham before. He was on over at the Jam Cafe in the Lace Market. Alex played a great set, filled with his typical awkward (on purpose, or not?) banter between songs and cool guitar-work. Sadly the venue was free-entry, with or without a D2D wristband which meant it was pretty loud as most people had just popped in for a drink.
After this there was a huge break where popped over to the Pity Sex show at Stuck on a Name which became an almost-unofficial part of the festival. Hit Otherlee had been announced as main support, but sadly dropped out on the day as The Hotelier took their place. What a great warmup for their main set; playing five songs of their latest record and a couple of older songs. It was surprising, though, how little the crowd seemed to be singing along or moving. Despite dodgy sound at SOAN, they played a great set and really put us in the mood to see them again later on. Pity Sex were also pretty great! Unofficial or not, this was a great part of the festival for us.
After that show we headed right over to Nottingham Trent’s Student Union to catch indie-pop band Best Coast who played a remarkably tight set to a bunch of people who seems distinctively uninterested. Their songs are melodic and full of great hooks, but it didn’t translate too well as the venue’s sound seemed to let them down and most of the crowd were talking to one another.
Creepoid were the first in our residence at The Bodega, and someone said to me, “this is exactly what I’d imagine a band called Creepoid to sound like.” It’s true. They’re grungy and loud, they kinda trudged through their set before a loud wall of noise outro and throwing themselves around the stage. It was a good set to watch, but musically a tad uninteresting.
Up next were The Hotelier. This time it was their proper set and the crowd was way more excited than those at the secret show. They kicked things of with “An Introduction to the Album” which immediately had everyone singing along. They switched out the older songs they’d played earlier and treated us to “Title Track” from their debut which was quite spectacular. The heavy “Life in Drag” was also a nice treat, translating extremely well to a live setting. They ended on dramatic closer “Dendon” from Home, Like Noplace is There which again managed to leave everybody wanting more.
Cymbals Eat Guitars have been getting a lot of hype recently after getting on shows with bands like Brand New and Say Anything. Their live show is very impressive. They’re very loud and atmosphere but manage to grab your attention instantly, and most importantly, keep it throughout the entire set. They’re gonna be huge.
Our final band of the day was Single Mothers. At this point, at 2AM, The Bodega had essentially emptied out apart from about 20-30 drunk people throwing themselves around on the dancefloor. That didn’t bother the band at all, who essentially played their loud, loud brand of punk rock to an audience who could have literally been anywhere.
Dot to Dot is a special festival. I mentioned that I popped over to another show, because I think the charm of Dot to Dot is that the entire city essentially becomes one huge festival with music pouring out of every single bar and pub in Nottingham. It’s a really great day out – and for around 20 venues for £25, it’s amazing value for money. We’re excited for next year!