Review: Dot to Dot Festival 2012, Nottingham

EIGHT Venues. Over 100 Artists. One Mission: Join The Dots. Reporter Andrew Trendell went to Nottingham for one of the country’s finest inner-city festivals.

BANG. And we’re off. Yunioshi battled with sound problems to conquer their early afternoon slot and seize the day for Notts music.

Standing tall and standing out as champions of the local scene, Yunioshi impressed a modest but enraptured crowd in Rescue Rooms with their scuzzy electro-funk-rock. As if the idiosyncrasies of their sound and delivery weren’t apparent enough, they then treated the audience to free cake as the four eccentrics darted across the stage. What more could you ask for?

Next door on the larger stage in Rock City, Bastille didn’t rise to the occasion quite so well. As rain-soaked music fans flocked indoors to hide from the torrential downpour outside, a fairly flat and insipid performance of tired synth-pop ideas left the expanding audience cold.

Luckily, what followed would soon warm the souls and imaginations of all present. Sweet singer songstress Lucy Rose delivered a charming and accomplished set of angelic but hard-edged acoustic folk. Her heavenly ballads and driving rhythms left Dot To Dot truly smitten. Expect huge things from this girl.

Side-projects automatically come with a fixed set of preconceptions that are never a million miles away an artists’ usual sound. If you were one of the many who went to see Hyde and Beast at Dot to Dot, I certainly hope you left all of your expectations at the door. As the extra-curricular band of Futureheads’ drummer Dave Hyde, the sound of Hyde and Beast couldn’t be any further from the familiar vocal tomfoolery that we’ve come to expect from the ‘heads. Gone are the bursts of frenzied angular guitarwork, replaced with a kaleidoscope of classic pop that’s dreamy and psychedelic but never over-the-top or pretentious. Lovely stuff.

The true hero of the day was Nottingham’s own Jake Bugg. Rock City was rammed to the rafters, which is hardly surprising after recent single Lightning Bolt was declared ‘the Hottest Record in the World’ by Radio One’s Zane Lowe. Clearly humbled by the spectacle before him, the local 18-year-old more than lived up to the hyperbole that surrounds with. His nostalgic spikey-folk blended with old-school, toe-tapping country and infectious 60s beat-pop is tinged with a soul and wisdom far beyond his years. Tonight, Bugg acutely demonstrated why the future belongs to him.

Continuing the soundtrack to tomorrow in the venue next door were PEACE. A mess of hair, bravado and tassled-leather jackets, PEACE battered an unsuspecting audience with a mighty wall of sound that was hypnotic and brooding whilst psychedelic and danceable. They look, sound and feel alien and exotic. Catch them in smaller venues while you still can.

As the greatly-lauded Notts lads Dog Is Dead tore through Rock City before the unseasonal bright and breezy surf-pop of The Drums tried to bring a little sunshine to a very wet Nottingham, the rest of us braved the storm and made our way across the city for something a little harder – in the form of a brutal hard-rock climax from the aptly named Pulled Apart By Horses. Jongleurs may have seemed like an unlikely venue, but nothing stopped these headliners from sending the largely inebriated crowd into a feral frenzy of blissful brute force.

For most, that’s when the day’s proceedings came to a very loud end. For the rest of us hangers-on, the last few lingering hours into the next day saw a warm and invigorating set of inventive R n’ B prog-pop from Kwes, before last act of the night The Internet punctuated Dot to Dot with a smooth and soulful full stop. A distant cry from the controversial ultra-violence of Odd Future (the tabloid target hip-hop collective of which they’re members), The Internet brought Dot to Dot to swooning close with a sweet blend of classic pop and Motown – somewhere in the distance between the Jackson Five and N*E*R*D.

It was just another enlightening surprise in a day full of great discoveries. Just goes to show what you can find when you look between the dots.

By Andrew Trendell