As I write this, I’m running on three hours sleep, it’s 8am, and some guy outside my window is singing that hymnayeyahhhhhhh thing from the Lion King.

But it’s all been worth it, because bloody hell D2D, you were magical.

After filling myself with all the slow-burning goodness to get me through the day (big up Quaker Oats), it was Talbot Street that starts our day. Both to get our wristband, which is, ya know, kinda helpful, and to enter the wonderful world of Rock City, to see the epic bois in DO NOTHING. The last time I saw these humans play this stage was when they left everyone completely fucking gobsmacked at the FSN final in 2014, so to see them do it four years on, is well special. An epic wall of sound, sick riffs for days, and one of the most engaging front-man performances your eyes and ears will lay eyes on. It’s a great way to start the day.

And then, in typical Dot to Dot fashion, it’s time to leg it to another Notts artist. Luckily, it’s right next door though. Rescue Rooms, for LAURIE ILLINGWORTH. The Belper boy has legit just moved to Notts (#fresh), and boooyyy are we chuffed about it. He’s an incredibly special soul. And that is reflected on stage. As he swirls around in a world of joy up on the stage, with just his piano to accompany him, his stunning soulful sounds dominate the room. I confess, I struggle to talk about music when it’s as stripped back as this, but what I can say is, to say he only started making original music a year ago, he’s already built a collection of resonant, powerful, and bloody special songs, that I’m sure will have lots of humans full of joy, and connected sadness. The best kind of sadness.

We then rushed our little legs all the way over to the other side of town to see TAYLA JAYDE at Nottingham Contemporary. Now, unless she’s changed quite dramatically since we last saw her a few months ago, we thiiiink the lineup order may have been slightly re-arranged. As what we he saw was a gentleman wearing funky shorts, and singing some cheeky songs. AL MORRIS we think it was. And he had us proper chuckling as we decided which street food we should indulge in.

We then backed up some footage (definitely didn’t forget to format our memory cards…), and went our way to Brewdog to see RE TEU. It’s another one of those special moments that Dot to Dot is so good for. To a packed out room, RT serenades with his many tales, and even gets most of the room engaged for a bit of call and response. Which, for 3pm on a bank holiday Sunday, is well impressive. He also does a cheeky plug for his Splendour appearance, and I know it’s lame – but I love it when an artist does a plug well. And Re did. So, nice one Re. Nice one. 

Next up, it was time to get smooth as fuuuuuuucckk. RUDI, formerly known as OSCAR SPEED, took over The Angel downstairs for one of the most magical moments my eyes and ears have seen in quite some time. Decked out in the suavest of pink suits, and joined with some killer backing from JAZZ ROOSEVELT, and GEORGIA COPELAND on vocals, RUDI bursts into the room and straight into soulful, old school Funky Rnb. And, on a personal indulgence tip, this was one of my favourite moments of the day. Saucy, charismatic, and with hooks for daaaaays. Seeing this in the downstairs of the Angel was a bit surreal. But that’s why ya love Notts init?

SUEDE up next, not for pizza, but for something equally as awesome – VERA GULL taking over the Phlexx stage. Having already seen VG before and been blown away by their stunning stage presence and musical prowess, seeing them in the intimate setting of Suede was always gonna be spesh. And damn, it was. Haunting vocals from Alexa, BIG sounds from the whole band. It was ace, and if I could have actually got a pizza too, I reckon it would have been perfect bliss.

OKAY FAN BOY TRANSPARENCY DECLARATION – I bloody love JOEL BAKER. I’m proud of it. He’s one of those artists whose music I’ve always just connected with, and my brain, soul and body all just kinda loses its shit when I hear him, both live and on record. So seeing him boss the legendary Rock City main stage was always gonna be awesome – and it was. It was. IT WAS. Joined by his band, he bossed through banger after banger, from mega-anthem ‘Story’, through to monster new hit ‘Harder to Fall’. He’s incredibly charismatic, has some of the most relatable lyrics my lil tabs have ever heard, and man, I don’t think I”ve heard a song my ears haven’t loved.

DUN DUN – Also Rock City, this time for a more stripped back, but still equally badass performance. This time from ADY SULEIMAN. Any set that starts with the lyrics ‘I remember when we were fucking’ is gonna be ace, and this was just the sign of how the set would be. Anthemic choruses after anthemic choruses, and a clear air from Ady of ‘holy shit, I’m on the City main stage’. It was well nice. And the room was loving it too, belting out tune after tune back at him. Bloody hell Notts, you’re great.

LEGS. MOVE. TO. CONTEMPORARY. This time for KWOLI BLACK with band. Headline: they killed it.  Despite a crowd that seemed a lil more focussed on the cheesy chips, KB battled through his set with all the charisma and bad-assery you want from the coolest of musicians. And then he did a mashup of his song ‘Falling’ and Chance the Rappers’ ‘Same Drugs’ and it was super beaut. Ahh loving life.

Quick stop back to the microbrewery of heaven, also known as the Angel (see what I did there??!), this time for PARISA EAST. P is an incredibly charismatic human, with a stunning soulful voice. And the gentleman that joins her on keys is a maestro in his own right, and when they come together, they created quite a special soulful moment. And seeing P loving life, dancing around the stage (floor??) whilst belting the songs out. That was well nice.

INTO A CROWDED CINEMA BUT NOT A CINEMA COS IT’S THE BAR OF THE CINEMA. Broadway. To see THE MEMOIRS and their epic guitar-fuelled madness. We walk in just as they’re playing lead single ‘Bathed in Light’, so that was nice. And then everyone gets out their chairs and goes a little bit mental, as do the band, and its wonderful, but I can’t really see anything cos I’m far too small for a man my age.

Then, we go to get some oranges (haha, no, that’s a really bad pun) cos we’re off to The Orange Tree to see ELMZ XIX. In a surreal turn of events AUTUMN DIET PLANS Lew is the DJ (he works there). Elmz glides over a mixture of beats (most his own productions) with confidence, and gets the room bouncing to some of his well catchy hooks. He also wears a hoodie and shades inside and all I could think is you must be well hot mate. Oh, and you got bangers.

Strong contender for gig of the day was THE SHRIVES at The Angel. They didn’t so much blow the roof off. They blew the roof off, knocked down the side walls, reconstituted the foundations then rebuilt the whole God Damn structure before bespoke brewing their own beer, with a set of outrageous cheek, energy and harmonies that will have every single Notts Music Lover there singing in the shower today ‘bap ba, bap ba, bap ba, ba ba di ba ba’. The embodiment of the sweat dripping down the walls gig cliche, in the bestest, truest possible way. Scandalously good.

Anyways I’m knackered, and wanna know if the Lion King dude is still outside. If I find him, can someone book him for next year’s festival?

Peace out D2D, you were fucking awesome.

Words and Photos by Sam Nahirny,
Additional Words / Reporting by Mark Del