It’s Sunday, Spring Bank Holiday Weekend. What better way to spent it than turn up to an indie music festival in the midst of Nottingham City Centre. The best thing about this festival is the urban setting. All the venues are fairly close together and are incredibly varied, from the DIY intimacy of the upstairs stage of Spanky Van Dykes to the arty, open-spaces of the Rough Trade Record Store. Also, unlike the big, wide open spaces of most countryside music festivals in which the impact of the music can get a little bit lost, you are always close to the action at Dot to Dot.
The first act we saw were Nottingham three-piece, Silver Wilson. They delivered a rhythmic blend of electronic indie which is quite en vogue at the moment. As a local band, they are well supported and are no doubt going to be performing near you (well, if you are in the East Midlands anyway!)
Following Silver Wilson came US band Chappo. They presented their own brand of space inspired Indie pop-rock. Despite struggling with technical difficulties for the first few songs, they grew into their set with ‘Come Home’ being a stand out song. Central to Chappo’s appeal is Alex Chappo, the frontman. He certainly knows how to stand out with his Mick Jagger-esque stylings which certainly make an impact, particularly when he was dancing in the crowd and with individual audience members. All music is about theatricality, and Chappo seemed to have it in abundance.
On the main stage of Rescue Rooms was Barns Courtney, a singer-songwriter (not to be confused with Courtney Barnett). He initially makes a striking impression with his powerful voice. He certainly has a powerful presence, looking every inch the rock star with his leather jacket and Elvis inspired guitar swagger. Radio 1 playlisted single ‘Glitter & Gold’ really gets the crowd going. His simple, rock-acoustic numbers went down well with the audience. He even managed his own Freddie Mercury moment, with him and the audience chanting back and forth.
Over at the Main Stage at Rock City, Johnny Lloyd is half-way into his set. As one of our recommendations for the festival, Lloyd is certainly one to watch. Songs such as ‘Happy Humans’ follow the Pixies-pattern of quiet, slow verses, punctuated with loud, heavy choruses.
On stage in the quieter and intimate settings of the Bodega Bar was Trevor Sensor, another American singer-songwriter. Much like Barns Courtney, his presence and look harks back to rock music’s past. He has the look of Bob Dylan, as well as the latter’s rugged, raspy voice.
New Desert Blues
Back to Spanky’s for New Desert Blues, a blues-rock combo from Hertfordshire. As their set progresses, they demonstrate a strong musical acumen with intricate harmonies with layered guitar arrangements on tracks such as ‘Rag and Bone’ and ‘Adam’. If they were in a much larger space, their atmospheric and energetic tunes would certainly have more impact than in Spanky’s, but they are a talented band who deserves to go far.
Upstairs in the Red Room was Lawrence Taylor, a heavy-hitting and soulful-voiced singer songwriter from Birmingham. His simple, yet effective guitar-chopping style on ‘Bang, Bang’ was reminiscent of Billy Bragg, but his voice is very much in the vein of the current crop of singer songwriters such as James Bay and Hozier. His radio-friendly tunes certainly went down well with the people gathered there.
If you were looking for something a bit bouncier, something to really dance to, then The Sherlocks were at hand. They have the classic British indie-rock stylings of bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Enemy. Their influences can be found on bangers such as ‘Live for the Moment’, whilst ‘Chasing Shadows’ was a more anthemic tune which could go down well in arenas. Judging from the reactions of the crowd, they certainly know how to rock the audience.
That is until Diet Cig came on. A two-piece from Brooklyn, they consist a female lead singer/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman. For all The Sherlocks’ blokey swagger, they had nothing on Luciano. When performing, she seemed like a demented tomboy moving around the stage, kicking her legs up (á la Chuck Berry) and mounting the drum kit for the final song before jumping off it. Not only that, her chattiness between songs and her own defiant voice, which had a hint of vulnerability about it, endured her to the audience. If any band that day proper killed it on stage, it was Diet Cig.
The final we band we saw was Spring King in Rescue Rooms. As with The Sherlocks, the crowd seemed to go wild for these guys from Manchester. They have punchy, punk songs such as ‘The Summer’ which gets a proper mosh pit going. They also show a surprising amount of depth in their slightly disturbing ‘Demons’ song. Other highlights included ‘Detroit’ sounds like their very own tribute to Detroit’s finest, Iggy Pop and The Stooges. It was a proper art-punk performance which gave people a much needed shot of adrenaline to keep them going into 3:30am in the morning.
Over the course of the day, we saw many acts, not as many as we wanted to, but still, Dot To Dot is about the hidden treasures or those who are soon going to make it to the big time. There was an incredible amount of talent around and Nothing Off Note will be looking at how well they do in the future.