Music Reviews

“An Impressive Range Of New Musical Talent”- Live Review: Dot To Dot Music Festival @ Nottingham Venues

Daria Paterek and Kit Sinclair

Partnering with Ibis Music, Dot to Dot Music Festival kicked off this year’s summer of music. Starting in Bristol on the 27th of May and moving to Nottingham on the 28th, the festival offered a chance to discover new music spanning all genres. Impact‘s Daria and Kit review the Nottingham festival.

We kicked off the day by seeing Young Decades at Percy Pickebackers. Despite not previously being at this venue, I really enjoyed the intimate atmosphere and vibrant decor. The festival was scattered through Nottingham’s city centre, with venues ranging from smaller ones such as this, to massive venues such as Rock City.

The performance was very intimate (with the festival just starting), but I really enjoyed the set- I’m a sucker for band music, and I think you can go no wrong with a live performance featuring guitars and drums. Whilst the songs in themselves weren’t something I would listen to, being able to explore new music with like-minded people meant that it was a great start to the festival.

After their performance, I became a fan

The highlight for me was seeing 49th & Main at Rock City. Despite not knowing of their music prior to the festival, I’ll admit that after their performance, I became a fan (which I believe was the festival’s primary goal). Featuring a live saxophone which added an incredible instrumental to the set, I could immediately feel the energy in the room. The artists were jumping around the stage, hyping up the crowd, and even people who seemed new to their music were dancing and bobbing their heads. The energy in the room was vibrant, and more and more started entering the room, wanting to be part of the crowd.

The festival was a great way to discover Nottingham-born bands, such as Gender Envy. When the set started, I didn’t initially think that this type of music was for me. However, as more songs started playing, and the band started interacting with the audience, I became more interested in their songs, particularly the subject matters that they discussed- from gender identity to mental health. And the crowd also added to the great energy, even if I didn’t expect some mosh pitting.

I was also exposed to music I wouldn’t typically go out of my way to listen to, including the band University. Upon entering Bodega, I had no idea what I was signing up for, yet I believe that was the most fun part of the festival. Being able to come into most music venues in Nottingham and get to hear something you’ve never heard before, Shazam it, and find out more about artists was thrilling. While I’ve come to the conclusion that the scream genre is definitely not for me, I was glad for the opportunity to experience it live and come to that conclusion.

I was also glad that performances were taking place in my favourite music venue in Nottingham, Rough Trade. This venue holds a special place in my heart, as I had the chance to see Raye perform her debut album here. I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to see Nell Mescal, whose music I thought would be right up my street- and I was right. Her acoustic set was incredible, touching on themes of love, youth and loneliness.

A chilled and lyrical respite from a hectic day

After catching Nell Mescal at Rough Trade, we had just enough time to grab some dinner – a surprisingly good quesadilla amidst a sea of food outlets that had all, disappointingly, run out of stock – before heading to Beta at Rock City to check out Sophie May. Despite spending a portion of her set on an odyssey to charge my phone, what I did hear was a chilled and lyrical respite from a hectic day. With The Band was a particular highlight, and her story about a fan who’d got a tattoo of her song lyrics that never actually made it into the final release, was especially amusing.

Now we’d had a moment to catch our breath, it was time for the main event: headliners, Yard Act. Despite not having heard much of their music before, I had heard a lot of good things and my expectations were high. Luckily, they did not disappoint. Their fast paced lyrics – political commentary abounded – and energetic riffs had the audience dancing within five minutes of coming on stage.

Lead singer James Smith played the crowd well, and even though it was clear there was a mixture of dedicated fans and newcomers in the throng at Rock City, we were all jumping around with abandon by the end of the set. Perhaps my favourite of the acts I discovered at the festival- I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Exhausted by my exertions, I headed back to Beta on a whim to check out Downtown Kayoto. I had hoped that this would be another chill set to allow me to recover – little did I know that this was to be a heady mix of R&B and D&B to kick off the after dark sets. Nevertheless, I found some reserves of energy to join in (very badly) with the shuffling. His charm and connection with the audience shone through, and even though it was a relatively small group of onlookers, he easily infused the room with energy.

Finally, I headed over to Rescue Rooms for Kofi Stone’s set. This was another highlight for me; his wordsmithing is exceptional and I loved the Loyle Carner-esque jazzy beats that underscore his lyrics. At one point he came off the stage and headed into the crowd, thrilling the surrounding fans, and his rendition of Busker Flow, a song his manager had warned him would be ‘impossible’ to perform live, was a huge hit.

You might discover your new favourite artist

The day was a reminder of how lucky we are in Nottingham to have such a huge variety of world-class venues on our doorsteps that foster such an impressive range of new musical talent. I encourage anyone reading to pick out just a few names from this article (or from the full line-up here, as we only managed to cover a tiny fraction of the sprawling festival) and give them a try. Who knows? Like us, you might discover your new favourite artist – and, if Dot to Dot’s record of picking out the next global stars holds true, you might even be able to brag that you knew them before they were cool.

Daria Paterek and Kit Sinclair

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of Kit Sinclair. No changes were made to this image.

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