Since its inception in Nottingham in 2005, Dot To Dot has established itself as the UK’s premier festival for unearthing the brightest new talent around. The concept is simple: over three days, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham become buzzing musical meccas whilst audiences join the dots. From Manchester’s ornate cathedral to Nottingham’s iconic Rock City, along with a series of previous line-ups that boast The 1975, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Foals, Marina & The Diamonds, and Mumford & Sons, Dot To Dot earns its title as “Winner of Best Festival” at the Live UK Awards 2016 with ease.
The Independent has described how the annual showcase “is proof that you don’t need to pitch a tent in a muddy field to get that festival feeling” and this year, Dot To Dot celebrates its 12th birthday with an exuberant array of alternative talent. With Nottingham’s Talbot Street transformed into what looked like a middle-class street party, Nouse’s coverage of the festival encompasses indie’s brightest, newest and best.
The iconic live music venue Rock City, at the heart of Talbot Street’s festival transformation with its infamous sticky floor, is the proud centrepiece of Dot to Dot’s Nottingham leg. Basking in the springtime sun, bunting and iridescent glitter embellishes the exterior facade. It’s an impressive location to discover new music, and grandness is demanded even if the opening performance by indie novices THE NIGHT CAFÉ isn’t quite a match made in heaven. The quartet fill one of the earlier slots at the main venue – one of twenty quirky locations hosting stellar performances across the city. Their scuzzy, grungy four-piece indie rock fails to resonate significantly but complements the line-up, as well as providing a pleasant appetiser. Fan favourites “Mixed Signals” and “You Change With The Seasons” shows flair and promise, and the foursome are destined to play a series of festivals over the course of this summer.
Much commotion’s been made about ALL WE ARE, the cosmopolitan three-piece based in Liverpool playing Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, as they slowly blossom into fully-fledged alt. pop stars. With their eponymous debut long-player now two years old, and the release of their second album on the horizon, the trio delivered a moody, cinematic performance that whetted the appetite for those in the audience anticipating All We Are’s upcoming record. Much of their setlist nodded towards this new record: “Burn It All Out” is a lengthy ode, rife with noodly math-pop guitars and intricate licks, whilst “Feel Safe” deviates from their chilled-out formula, using jagged funk chords and slick, sultry ‘ooh-ooh-oohs’ to make you move. Similarly, “Animal” zoomed around post-rock breakdowns, richocheting between beats, guitars, basslines, more guitars, and more guitars. “Something About You”’s so swoony and liquid that it might as well be 20,000 leagues under the sea. Finally, they plump for chilled funk vibes that make the audience shimmy and shake, before lurching into a wonderfully self-indulgent instrumental escapade for two and a half minutes in their closer, “Dreamer”.
Over at Rock City’s basement, BANFI next took to the stage. Joe Banfi, Aaron Graham and Chris McCuaig’s cool and calm approach has worked effectively, hitting back with two singles over the last five months; “Happy When You Go” and their latest, “Rosedale House” has got the critics craving for some more tunes and a debut album hopefully. Brimming with confidence and flair, their set provided an intimate yet equally jovial performance, which made a refreshing change from the larger acts. With choppy percussion and spidery riffs igniting frontman Joe Banfi’s vocals, “Where We Part” exhumed hints of the indie folk dalliances commonly found across Clean Cut Kid and Vampire Weekend.
Euphoric guitar rock supremes SUNDARA KARMA take centre stage at Rock City as the festival’s headline act. Their meteoric rise and epic debut album came as no surprise to anybody who have seen these guys at Dot To Dot before – only last year the quartet were playing Dot To Dot’s Rock City as one of the festivals lead artists. With stage presence in abundance, and a plethora of huge songs such as “Flame”, “Explore” and “She Said” – the band offered an easily-listenable, energetic set of Catfish and the Bottlemen cold cuts. Sundara Karma embody everything Dot To Dot stands for: fun, alternative-indie sprit. Their performance drew a mammoth crowd, and as the glitter confetti fell on the revellers, it seemed clear that their headline had been a roaring success.