Music Reviews

”A Very Enjoyable Experience” – Live Review: Dot to Dot Festival 2021

Gemma Cockrell

Dot to Dot Festival has finally returned to Nottingham, albeit taking place at a new time of year in September rather than their usual date in May. With a stacked line-up appearing in Nottingham’s much-loved venues, it was bound to be a great day out. Gemma Cockrell reviews.

The concept of Dot to Dot festival is a very unique one. It lasts for only one day, and it takes place right in the city centre of Nottingham. There are artists playing all day in all of Nottingham’s music venues, including Rock City, Rescue Rooms and The Bodega to name a few, and as long as you have a ticket you are free to enter any venue you wish to.

The first piece of advice I would give if you are planning on attending Dot to Dot in the future is to wear comfortable footwear. This is because you will be walking and standing for much longer than you expect to, and by the end of the day your feet will be aching more than they have ever ached before. However, even after taking the distance between venues into account, I found that seeing every artist that I wanted to was pretty doable, even though there were some clashes.

The first band that I caught were Nottingham’s very own Blondes. Having studied at UoN themselves (and featuring in our latest print edition) the band are a much-loved treasure in the city that they call home. So, it was no surprise that their homecoming gig went down a treat in Rock City, even though it was in the early afternoon and the crowd was only just starting to get warmed up. Guitarist Alex Davison reminisced on when he used to attend Crisis in that very same location, whilst also encouraging the crowd to take off their T-shirts and swing them above their heads to result in a scene you would only otherwise see at Ocean on a Friday. With impressive vocals from Will Potter, and a front row spot, Blondes were one of my favourite sets of the day.

Following this, I decided to check out an artist that I was previously unfamiliar with. I chose JERUB, who was playing in Red Rooms, an upstairs room in Rescue Rooms. Once I finally managed to find the room (I did have to ask one of the Rescue Rooms bar staff for directions) I was pleasantly surprised by JERUB’s talent, and had no regrets about giving his set a chance.

Even from a short half an hour set, you could tell that he was an artist with so much soul – he confessed midway through his performance that his friends tell him that he “deeps everything” – and he had such a compelling voice that I was left captivated. He is definitely an artist that I will be checking out further.

It’s safe to say that the band did not disappoint

Next was Black Honey, one of the bands on the line-up that I was most excited for. Walking onto stage to Truth Hurts by Lizzo is exactly the kind of decision I would expect from front-woman Izzy B. Phillips, one of the most powerful and fascinating women in the rock genre at the moment. It’s safe to say that the band did not disappoint. I was watching from the balcony at Rock City, a decision I ended up being very grateful for since there were some of the craziest mosh pits that I had ever seen unfolding directly below me. Phillips took the moment to emphasise and remind everyone that gigs must be a safe space for everyone, especially for women, an important statement and one that I was very grateful to hear her address in front of such a large crowd.

Then, I headed to NTSU (Nottingham Trent University’s Student Union, for those who are unfamiliar) for the first time ever, to listen to Oxford four-piece indie-outfit Low Island. Even though I only knew a few of their songs beforehand, I was very aware of their immense talent and I wasn’t disappointed by their set at all.

The next artist I caught was Billie Marten, in the same location. Despite seeming slightly shy on stage at first, with very little interaction with the crowd, she got visibly more comfortable as her set went on, even flashing a smile to the crowd and her band on occasion.

The next venue I trekked to was The Bodega, the biggest walk of all, and this is where I spent the rest of my evening. The first act I saw there were Drug Store Romeos, who impressed me with the sheer number of instruments they could play; the members were constantly swapping instruments throughout the set. However, most impressive of all was undeniably when vocalist Sarah Downey whipped out a flute and serenaded us with a beautiful classical instrumental interlude.

Next, I decided to stick around for another artist that I was unfamiliar with: Yard Act. Again, I was not disappointed at all. Their lead vocalist James Smith knew exactly how to work the crowd, and they are definitely a band that I will be checking out more after seeing them perform.

Excellent value for money, a line-up packed with talent (and plenty of local artists too), and some of my favourite music venues in the world

Speaking of frontmen who engaged with the crowd perfectly, last but not least I caught Do Nothing’s ‘secret’ set at The Bodega. I say secret in quotation marks because the set was very much not a secret at all, since Chris Bailey leaked the news himself earlier in the day. Nevertheless, this didn’t make the set any less enjoyable, especially since I had only caught a small section of their Rock City set earlier in the day from a not-so-ideal spot on the balcony, where I couldn’t really see much – entirely my fault, for turning up too late. But this time, I made sure to get there in good time, and I was front row and ready to experience what I had missed earlier in the day.

Overall, Dot to Dot Festival was a very enjoyable experience. Excellent value for money, a line-up packed with talent (and plenty of local artists too), and some of my favourite music venues in the world – what more could I ask for? Maybe for my feet not to hurt so much by the end of the day. But that would be asking for too much.

four and a half stars

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image and in-articles images courtesy of Gemma Cockrell. No changes made to these images. Permission to use granted to Impact.

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