Festival Review: Connecting The Dots At Nottingham's Dot To Dot 2019

on Friday, June 28, 2019
Dot To Dot Festival (26 May 2019 @ various venues across Nottingham) // Words: Saam Das

"So nice to see so many people, so early", notes BLOXX's frontwoman Ophelia Booth as the band open the Rock City main stage proceedings at the Nottingham edition of the three-city-pronged Dot To Dot, taking place over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. BLOXX's early appearance is a surprise to some, as this is a last minute schedule change. But it's a welcome surprise as the quartet blast through their spiky guitar pop, including recent single 'Headspace', which inspires sustained pogo-ing both onstage and from the audience.

BLOXX - 'Headspace'

We next squeeze into the adjacent BETA room to catch the latter part of The Mocking Jays' set, although their US-influenced alt-rock isn't quite to our tastes. Onward to a packed Red Room, upstairs in the somewhat confusing Rescue Rooms venue, for psychedelic slackers Sancho Panza. There's something of latter day Arctic Monkeys with the swagger of Liam Gallagher to the new Notts outfit, and it's understandable that they've been hotly tipped by local press.

Sancho Panza - 'Age Of Gold'

Speaking of warm things, upstairs at Rough Trade Nottingham is approaching the temperature of the Sun by the time Pixx takes to the stage, following a delayed start. Nonetheless, it's worth the sweltering wait. One of the new class of BRIT School graduate moving in less standard pop directions, alongside the likes of King Krule and Black Midi, Pixx offers an intoxicating clash of genres from folk to post-punk.

Back at Rock City, Le Tigre's 'Deceptacon' is the intro to Dream Wife's appearance - a brave move to follow the timeless banger. But the riot grrrl connection is clear, and the London trio (joined by a live drummer here) deliver impressively, evoking everything from The B52s to Eagles Of Death Metal, while addressing a variety of social issues such as in 'Somebody', which takes on gender norms. They even nicely ask a tall member of the audience to move to one side to "support small people!" - not all heroes wear capes.

Dream Wife - 'Somebody'

Swimming Girls are a short walk away (indeed, many of the Nottingham venues are handily clustered within minutes of each other, occasionally even in the same building) in the NTSU, where there is a distinct lack of swimming. But there are shimmering Fickle Friends-esque tunes such as 'Tastes Like Money', although the momentum is somewhat arrested when they up the melodrama and reduce band members as frontwoman Vanessa Giminez takes the spotlight. Nonetheless, the pace soon picks up again for the outfit which is picking up pace, speaking more generally.

Swimming Girls - 'Tastes Like Money'

At a jam-packed Rescue Rooms, the much vaunted Squid are justifying their hype with a chaotically brilliant set. Alongside Black Midi, they're one of a new set of British bands that are making waves largely driven by their live performances. Rachel Chinouriri is captivating in another sense, often commanding pin-drop silence in Stealth - a rarity at gigs these days. 'So My Darling' feels particularly poignant, with Chinouriri noting the importance of telling people how much you love them, "even if they think it's too much".

Rachel Chinouriri - 'So My Darling'

The returning Swim Deep are our next stop at Rock City, and they're very much living up to their billing as one of the festival headliners. It's almost hard to believe that they've only played sporadic gigs over the last few years, with the audience lapping up their material, both old and new. In fact, new tracks like 'To Feel Good' are received just as rapturously as previous singles like 'Honey' and 'Fueiho Boogie'. Sterling work.

Devon solo artist Alice Jemima is something of a warm down after Swim Deep's energetic performance, letting us do some understated dancing in the dark. Funky single 'Liquorice' and Blackstreet cover 'No Diggity' are particular highlights but it's a shame that the audience at Stealth seem in such a loudly talkative mood, and we're angry on Alice Jemima's behalf. Go to the bar to chat, you bastards!

Alice Jemima - 'No Diggity' (Blackstreet Cover)

We finish the evening at the Dot To Dot silent disco that is going off. In fact, it's so off, it's on. "An amazing festival for new artists", proclaimed Dream Wife earlier, and they're not wrong - but there's something deeply enjoyable about screaming your head off to classics ranging from Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' to Feeder's 'Buck Rogers'. By the time 'Mr Brightside' hits, we're absolutely spent but able to muster our energy for one last mammoth singalong. Worth the price of admission alone.

Find more info at dottodotfestival.co.uk.

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