Dot to Dot Festival review

Jordan Foster headed to the Nottingham leg of the ever fruitful Dot to Dot Festival.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 29th May 2018

Image: The Horrors at Dot to Dot Festival (source)

With an ever-mounting reputation, Dot to Dot continues to capitalise on the growing popularity of inner city music festivals with another top-value-for-money string of dates. With a thriving bar scene and heaps of pop-up street food at the ready, a bustling Nottingham hosts the metropolitan festival’s final date.

Winston Surfshirt are the first outfit to make an eyebrow-raising impression. Their set, including a large slice of delectable debut album Sponge Cake, is a genre melding success. A groovy cover of OutKast’s 'Roses', laced with a super-funky squelching bassline, also goes down particularly well with a growing audience.

Perhaps the most compelling element of this festival is its ambitious selection of venues; from Broadway Independent Cinema, to Rough Trade Record Store’s poky upstairs, to Nottingham Trent’s Student Union, there’s a sprawling selection of spaces to be explored. And with that in mind after a spell in popular music hub Rock City, it’s over to Hockley – the city’s ‘hipster central’, known for it’s impressive Victorian architecture, quirky vintage apparel outlets and in this case an vicinity dense with intimate D2D venues.

The Angel pub becomes the first port of call in Hockley. With an onsite microbrewery, it’s the best place to try the local ale and the first on show, Riff Bastard, pack a punch as strong as the ‘Hung, Drawn & Portered’ brew on offer. Layered with a wall of guitar distortion, the lead singer’s abrasive bellows reach ridiculous pitches, but are maintained under insane pressure for impressive lengths of time, shining a rare positive light on the often maligned genre of metal.

After some more bar hopping, pizza gauging and ale guzzling, it’s back to Rock City to see in the two most highly anticipated slots of the day. Pale Waves, with a beefed-up live sound, seem to create the most potent buzz of the night as the quartet are greeted with a room clogged with a young and effervescent fan-base.

‘I think Nottingham is the best one yet’ shouts Heather Baron-Gracie (lead) in comparison to the festival’s other two dates. Unsurprising, considering the crowd opens up a new mosh-pit for nearly every track. Not bad considering the fresh-faced Mancunians are yet to even drop an LP. While their current releases are guilty of sounding samey, it’s only a matter of time before this group’s sweet harmonies and evocative melodies propel them into the D2D hall of fame (with the likes of The 1975, Wolf Alice and Caribou).

Next up are headliners The Horrors, another bunch of emo rockers who beam an arena-ready brand of dance-rock. But in contrast to Pale Waves, the experienced experimentalists come armed with a sprawling arsenal of material. From moody garage-rock to bright synthpop, they flick through a back catalogue that is varied, yet blends cohesively into one well-oiled machine.

The set-closing track ‘Something To Remember Me By’ from latest album V, proof that the five-piece’s creative juices are in no sign of running dry, was fittingly the most euphoric moment of the night. Chugging along with propulsive and exotic synth bursts, which slowly crystalise as the track unfolds, this exhilarating crescendo had everyone swaying in tandem.

It’s unfortunately not uncommon for an inner-city festival to eventually sever ties with independent venues after becoming established, in a commercially driven move towards larger and more open spaces. But after nearly a decade and a half, the annual D2D festival has managed to retain its soul in staying loyal to a diverse roster of grass roots bands and venues.

Festivals 2018