Dot to Dot Festival, Nottingham 29/05/2011
May 31, 2011 by Daniel Gill
Dot to Dot festival is one of them festivals that seems to attract more and more people each year, and this down to the quality of the acts and the quality of the venues. People are now swarming to the festival because they have heard bands like Klaxons, The XX, Mumford and Sons and the Mystery Jets come out of Dot to Dot becoming established and popular acts in the British music scene. Then there’s the international acts coming over and making a name for themselves, acts like Santogold, Temper Trap and Beach House have shone in the thirty minute slots that are given to them in previous years. One question is asked every year when the line-up is announced, who Is going to be the band or artist that puts their name on the musical map coming out of the festival?
The largest and most popular venue of the festival was our first port of call; Rock City main hall has the biggest names on the list when it comes to the evening but early in the day it hosted fresh up and comers Alpines. The band provided a great introduction to the day, and as the festival went on no one came close to matching the vocals of lead singer Catherine Pockson.
We only visited the Rock City main hall twice throughout the festival, and the second time was the standout performance of the whole day, a brilliant 45 minute set from The Naked and Famous. The main hall was packed with an energetic crowd who didn’t stop moving through the entire set. The energy was equalled on stage by the band, with Alisa Xayalith strutting her best dance moves whilst jauntily playing the tambourine.
Rescue Rooms provided two band performances which were totally opposite to each other. The first one was from Dot to Dot veterans Wolfgang who played to a surprisingly packed Rescue Room crowd; it got to the point where no one was allowed through the doors. Wolfgang’s performance was fine but easily forgettable.
Dom came on a few hours after Wolfgang to a pretty much empty venue with around 30 people plus the band Cults who stood timidly near the bar area. It seemed everyone was somewhere else and then we realised We Are Scientists were at Rock City and Joy Formidable were playing the Trent Uni at the same time. Lead singer Dom was constantly interacting with the crowd after songs and even told a joke where the punch line involved him spitting beer over the microphone (the sound engineer wasn’t looking very pleased). It was unclear whether this was his natural swagger or if it was just pure drunkenness, however it was still amusing to watch.
The Bodega saw us score a hat-trick of bands which started off with folk pop act Alessi’s Ark which soothed a small crowd that gradually got bigger towards the end of her act, it seemed people were arriving to see radio one starlets Fixers and buzz band of the year Cults who followed straight after.
After exiting the toilet and hearing rumours Ed Sheeran and Dananananakroyd had put on fantastic performances at their respective venues, I was hopeful for a couple of them statements about Fixers and Cults coming from the toilets next time. Unfortunately this couldn’t be said. Both bands had sound problems, Fixers were 5 minutes into their set and were still sorting out the sound which meant their performance lasted just over 20 minutes. When they eventually got going they made a good impression and the crowd were pretty energetic, mimicking frontman Jack Goldstein who was very dramatic in his lead performance.
The Bodega was now rammed for Cults who sadly had sound problems throughout their whole performance, it seemed that whoever was sound mixing couldn’t deal with Madeline Follin’s ever changing vocal range which slided from sweet 60’s pop to death metal growling. The microphone then frequently decided to cut on and off during a couple of songs and the cable didn’t get replaced until the final song, why this wasn’t sorted out earlier on puzzled me.
Stealth provided me with a chance to sing ‘Get Low’ by Lil Jon in the Silent Disco and also end the night with some electronic music in the form of SBTRKT and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED). SBTRKT were armed with all sorts of musical equipment and constantly looked like they were in a rush to play all of it, they provided some mellow sounds that were warmly accepted by a decent crowd considering the time of the performance. TEED followed on and closed the festival in a lively manner, there was the odd hiccup with the sound and there was only one dancing dinosaur girl but overall it was a performance that woke up the crowd and them raving for a full hour.
This year’s Dot to Dot at Nottingham had moments of greatness and patches of badness; Rock City showed once again why it’s one of the best live venues in the country displaying standout performances from Alpines and The Naked and Famous. While at the other side of the city, technical difficulties held back the eager to see bands like Cults and Fixers. However, I don’t think this will stop them joining the likes of Mystery Jets and company on the Dot to Dot hall of fame in the coming years.