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Festival Review: Dot To Dot

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Dot to Dot

Last weekend marked it; festival season had well and truly burst to life.

My first one of the season? It had to be Dot To Dot.

Taking over three different cities over three days, Nottingham (the city that spawned the event back in 2005) closed the proceedings unearthing the hottest new artists around.

The celebration filled the streets as eager music fanatics piled into over fifteen venues, including swanky but intimate Spanky Van Dykes, latest opening Rough Trade, and the European style Jam Cafe.

My experience however, started with a delayed coach service. We all know what sort of National isn’t Express at all.

Arriving just in time to catch hotly tipped (and rightly so) musical magician Rhodes in Nottingham’s gem - Rock City. Divine vocals filled the air as nobody dared to breathe a word, at fear of destroying the power accompanied by a full band.

Following was the university success story Amber Run, praised for powerful ballads with delightful instrumentals. The band dusted off old favourites and introduced an electrified audience to tracks lifted from their debut album 5AM. With a Jack Black School of Rock style stage presence, the guys energised the venue with passion, and quite a bit of sweat.

Irish duo Hudson Taylor continued to shake up and fizz the can of the city with contagious chords and twanged sing-a-longs. Stuck to the floor with spilt beer, audience jigs became a great difficulty but irresistible to take part in.

Downstairs in Rock City Basement, I was drawn to the luscious, velvety tones of Leicester lad Martin Luke Brown. As people lazed on cosy sofas, a large crowd gathered around the simple band set up to be right at the heart of the soul rhythm. Pop sensibilities lift the atmosphere to an all time high, wrapped with delicious melodies.

Next, a crowded venue welcomed Brummie four-piece Swim Deep. Breaking from their hiatus earlier this year, expectations were high. However, fuzzy feedback and screeched vocals disappointingly failed to follow the success from their earlier showmanship. Old favourites became unfamiliar in a live show, and didn’t hold much hope for the new release. Though, it was clear the guys were enjoying themselves, and possibly the free booze.

Meanwhile, after a hunt for Recue Room’s Red Room Oscar was proving that he’s not just a name, but a musician to be watched. Livening up the crowd with lo-fi chords combined with witty lyrics on sun kissed good ol’ indie-pop. Melodies floated with nostalgia, there are parts of Oscar we’ve all heard before, but there’s a new place in your heart for it.

Rae Morris never seizes to hypnotise her audience in beautifully bewitching manner. Looking and sounding like an angel, her soulful piano ballads flowed effortlessly into allusive power tracks and glittering pop numbers. Rae’s striking stage performance and chemistry with the full band may at first seem to belong in intimate venues, but she truly earned and owned the main stage.

Celebrating its tenth birthday, it’s just as well the closing headliner was a local lad. A local lad by the name Saint Raymond. Or Callum Burrows, if you know him. “I won a competition to play here four years ago, now here I am, mental!”

Filled to capacity, his homecoming show had everybody chanting, dancing and him walking on air. Melodic and subtly funky, his upbeat rhythm led to a whole city sing-a-long every track. Including a five minute one, for a song he never even released. Bouncing choruses were kissed with dance vibes, from ‘I Want You’ to rock n roll licked ‘Bonfires’. 

It may not be the biggest festival in the world, and it may not create the biggest hype out of the lot. Though, Dot To Dot festival will find you a new favourite artist, all it takes is walking into a venue and listening out. There’s also the bonus of doing so, and being able to use actual loos.

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