Review: Dot To Dot 2011

We Are Scientists
We Are Scientists

Five 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.

Dot To Dot is a feast for all lovers of new and exciting music from some of the world’s most hotly-tipped artists and DJs. To join all of the dots across the festival is to draw a picture of a vibrant and eclectic local and global music scene.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

Getting into the true spirit of the day quite early on, Alpines let their imagination burst onto the Rock City stage. With a bewitching dose of ethereal glitch-pop electronica that both swoons and soars, they enchant the crowd with their Bat For Lashes-esque dreaminess before the haze is quickly pierced by a sharp kick from local post-rock heroes Swimming.

With a psychedelic kaleidoscope of guitar-fuelled weirdness, Swimming show exactly why they’ve been the talk of both the underground and the national music press. These boys are definitely ones to watch and it’s certainly a pleasure to do so.

The mood then drastically changes again as the main Rock City hall swiftly fills to the rafters for the greatly-anticipated Ed Sheeran.

With his ginger afro and Hollyoaks-extra good looks, the current darling of hype appears an unlikely star to draw such devotion. But with his debut album looming on the horizon, Sheeran showcases what’s certain to make him the sound of the summer with his blend of Damien Rice’s balladry and Jamie T’s white rap wordplay.

Trail of Dead

Trail of Dead

It’s We Are Scientists however, who are the true victors of the day. While tracks from their latest and somewhat lacklustre effort Barbara seem to fall on deaf ears, their frenetic delivery of frenzied pop gems from their explosive and immaculate debut With Love and Squalor draws the best response of the day. Clowning across the stage, Keith Murray and co blend natural and brilliant banter with stadium-sized hooks.

Circle-pits erupt as the packed room swells and bounces to the inescapably infectious Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt before all are arm in arm to sway to the anthemic singalong After Hours.

For those who like to live life loud, stoner-rock demi-god’s And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead bring the noise to their headline slot over at Trent SU.

Sadly, they’re slightly let down by the hall’s awful acoustics which can only be likened to breaking wind underwater. But, as the opening notes of the fierce and relentless hard-rock odyssey of Will You Smile Again pound through the air and as they scream their way through cult classics like Mistakes and Regrets and Relative Ways, it’s clear that these criminally underrated Texan tycoons are hell-bent on rising to the occasion.

We Are Scientists

We Are Scientists

Back over at Rock City, there’s an entirely different atmosphere as slick electro-pop poster boys Hurts bring proceedings to a close.

Channelling the spirits of Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Wham, Hurts deliver a dose of shameless 1980s pure-pop perfection.

The stark but imperial sound of Wonderful Life enraptures the crowd of all ages. Clad in sharp black suits with even sharper slicked back hair, Hurts maintain a cool and icy veneer that matches their smooth and shimmering sound before their dark intensity boils over and singer Theo Hutchcraft throws his mic stand across the stage and launches himself howling into a wall of synth and screaming girls.

The boyband-bothering power ballad of Stay sounds huge enough to make God himself raise his lighter in the air while the edgy New Romantic closer Better Than Love is played as a timeless stone-cold classic. It’s a guilty pleasure, but it’s a pleasure all the same.

Hurts

Hurts

Review by Andrew Trendell

Photos by Victor Frankowski

Check back here soon for interviews with some of the hottest acts to play at this year’s Dot To Dot Festival.