Live Review: Dot to Dot Festival (24/05/2015)

Another year, another line-up, another day of music and merriment. As many came to the end of exams, or others who tried to justify a break, students took to the city of Nottingham to enjoy the all day music festival of Dot to Dot. Including performances of brief nudity and venues which, at the time, seemed highly possible to break due to exceeded capacity, there was a lot going on in the city. In case you missed anything or tragically couldn’t attend, here’s a roundup.

Holy Holy

Wandering into Spanky Van Dyke’s many of the day’s festival goers found a pleasant surprise in Holy Holy. The band provided a sweet summer soundtrack of gentle Indie-rock with a slight tinge of Americana, which fit perfectly on a gloomy spring day in the East Midlands. Joking aside, Holy Holy played an impressive set to a relatively dull and calm crowd. ‘Sentimental Monday’ was a particular highlight. While the audience may not have been as high energy and excited as one might hope they provided a nice warm atmosphere – this was a show where everyone was having a nice time. After all with Gentle music and a cold beer in hand on a Sunday afternoon no-one was expecting to start a mosh pit. Regardless everyone had a smile on their face and the Australian Indie-Rockers certainly impressed.

H. Hawkline

The only way to describe H. Hawkline would be to imagine if Marina & The Diamonds and Jamie T had a lovechild (NME make this happen); equal parts zany and 00s indie. He describes his music as ‘strange pop’ and while I’d agree with the strange bit, I don’t know how much this could be classed as pop. An enjoyable set, granted, and clearly very comfortable with a guitar in his hands, but it seemed quite evident that this was an artist in the early stages of his career. The ‘sound’ of H. Hawkline hasn’t been fine-tuned yet and few of the songs were especially memorable, but there was certainly something about him that betrayed the basis of a rather exciting musical trajectory.

Amber Run

A large proportion of Nottingham students are well aware of the success story of Amber Run. The former UoN students found their calling writing powerful ballads and were signed by Sony two years ago. Therefore the sense of a homecoming made the gig feel quite special, combined with the response to their recently released debut album 5AM led to a very busy Rock City.  The band storm through a set of huge chorus after huge chorus and the thousands in attendance respond more than kindly. Everyone clapped along, the first five rows are jumping at every opportunity and the band make sure that punters are glad they chose to stop and catch Amber Run. The performance was stellar and it felt like a better version of Coldplay were commanding the crowd sensationally. A highlight of the day for many.


A packed out Trent SU was gifted early on in the day with guitar-driven alternative pop from Manchester five-piece, PINS. A band whose live shows have been the driving force behind their popularity since their formation in 2011. This is not to say that PINS don’t cut it on record – 2013’s Girls Like Us was well received, and their latest singles off forthcoming Wild Nights indicate a strong follow-up LP too. But there is something in the aesthetics and energy of their live performance that transcends the records, making PINS worthy of the attention they have attracted. The hype is palpable when ‘Get With Me’ from Girls Like Us, or new single ‘Young Girls’, are soaked up in their set. Blending noise pop and post punk, they have created an upbeat sound and provoking style, inherited from somewhere between Hole and The Jesus and Mary Chain, that comes together to elicit the first lively response from the SU crowd of the day.

Band of Jackals
A large crowd gathered around the pocket size stage located at the back of Rough Trade. All were eagerly anticipating what had been rumoured to be Band of Jackal’s last ever gig. Frontman, Al Costain confirmed the hearsay and kicked off with ‘Tempted By Lasers’. The screeching guitars riffs and heavy drum beats were broken up by hypnotic, lullaby style whistles. The odd juxtaposition works and made their opener more memorable than ‘just another rock band’. The gig quickly became memorable for more than their distinctive sound. Lead guitarist, Adam Mitchell, in true rockstar fashion, was blind drunk. Band of Jackal’s usual quick and tight timings were wavering. Mitchell dropped his guitar and left the stage. Luckily, the now threesome were able to hold the show and received a positive reaction from the crowd.
The Fat White Family

A tour of the USA and the alleged robbery of £20,000 worth of equipment was never going to prevent Fat White Family from putting on a typically riotous, abrasive and thoroughly entertaining set in the Trent SU. Ever incendiary, frontman Lias Saudi enters this, one of their first UK gigs since the election, wearing a “Keep Fucking Buying The Sun” t-shirt, before it’s whipped off as the bluesy opener ‘Auto Neutron’ comes to its clattering climax. Even though they finish fifteen minutes earlier than billed, the Fat Whites don’t disappoint as they rattle through rousing favourite ‘Touch the Leather’, their musical homage to The Fall’s frontman, ‘I Am Mark E Smith’ and the thinly-veiled ode to oral sex, ‘Is it Raining In Your Mouth?’. Other than finishing with kicking over their drumset (and Lias’ standard arse flash), no shenanigans to report – nonetheless, a well received set.



The Spanish four-piece ranked very high indeed on Impact’s must-see list (80% for their music, 20% to see if coolness and fabulous hair by osmosis could maybe work on us). Watching the band play is like watching a mirror of if you and your mates started a band just to have a corking good time. These girls don’t take themselves too seriously and it’s reflected in their music. The lyrics aren’t particularly hard-hitting and deep but the music is fun and it’s plain to see how much fun they have together on stage. ‘Bamboo’ is ridiculously catchy and fun, while the Thee Headcotes cover, ‘Davey Crockett’ (the band’s collaboration with fellow Madrid indie kids Parrots) let’s the crowd know once and for all that girl-garage is coming back, and it’s gonna get you groovin’.

Tei shi

If the concept of an electro-pop cover of Beyoncé’s ‘No Angel’ sounds shit to you, then Tei Shi’s Dot to Dot set probably wouldn’t have done it for you. For the rest of us though, Tei Shi more than earned the relatively lacklustre response she got from a bored looking Rescue Rooms crowd. That reception needn’t have bothered her though since the act she brought to Nottingham (think somewhere between Shura and Class Actress and you’re not too far off) clearly has legs, and the quality of the set was uniformly excellent. They saved the best for last though; by the time they closed the set with a howling rendition of ‘Bassically’ I already knew they were good, but after that they had me believing they could be great, too.


Glaswegian duo, Honeyblood, added a touch of bite to the performances of the day. In the true spirit of punk the tracks played were kept short and sweet. As a result, the setlist was moved through at a rapid rate, made up of a combination of tracks off their raw eponymous debut as well as new material. Given their late slot the audience was noticeably more drunk and combined with the small size of The Bodega the gig was made energetic to say the least. Ending on their anthemic single ‘Killer Bangs’ Honeyblood left the audience pleading for more – or at least confused and wanting to carry on dancing.

Best coast

Best Coast’s appeal rests almost entirely on the charismatic presence of  founder members Beth Cosentino and Bob Bruno; their mixing of Year 9 grade lyrics with buoyant fuzz-pop and catchy guitar licks has remained largely unchanged since they  released ‘Sun Was High (So Was I)’ back in ’09. Last night they played a packed ‘headline’ slot at the recently refurbished Trent SU, and though some of their newer tracks underwhelmed somewhat, their renditions of Best Coast classics ‘When I’m With You’ and ‘Boyfriend’ in particular proved they’ve still got it. They may not be the most original or consequential band making music today, but I’d rather dance (read: thrash about wildly) to Best Coast than stand there glumly watching a more ‘serious’ band any day.

The Hotelier
Traveling from Massachusetts, the foursome looked right at home on The Bodega’s stage. That is of course not the case, the band have never toured the UK in the four years they have been together. Playing tonight was obviously a long awaited experience for their Nottingham fans. The sound was upbeat, punk-rock but infused with pop style catchy riffs and chantable choruses. The kind of sound that get stuck in your brain the next day and could feel right at home on Radio 1’s breakfast show. But if you study the lyrics The Hotelier gain a much more dark and sinister edge. The subjects of funerals, drugs and feelings of hopelessness range throughout the set yet we were all jumping and clapping along to. The curious oxymoron makes their live set enjoyable. But, once listening along alone the songs’ mood transforms. Regardless of their subtle miseries, the band set the party tone that continued throughout The Bodega until long after their end song.

Prior to The Wytches secret headline set, Kagoule headlined their own stage at The Chameleon in the early hours of the morning. As arguably the most local of the stages the atmosphere was much nearer to that of a standard Nottingham gig than of a festival. The gig wasn’t just local in terms of social atmosphere but also in its environment: the place felt like a sauna and smelt like a dodgy pot noodle (as many of us would argue a gig should be). Storming through a set of old classics such as ‘Made of Conrete’ to furious belters such as ‘Empty Mug’ the band put on what many would expect from them. As many people’s days drew to a close fans took one last opportunity to let off steam with large amounts of moshing, stagediving and falling over.

All Photos Shaun Gordon Photography

Ian Fillingham, Daisy Foster, James Noble, Kieran Hallam, Olivia Clarke and Liam Patrick Claude Fleming

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One Comment
  • brad
    2 June 2015 at 16:35
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    highlight of the whole thing was Cheshire and the Cat playing in the street outside that shop opposite Spanky’s

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