As another sunny day graced Nottingham, we once again had the privilege of an awesome festival coming to our fine city. Dot to Dot returned to Notts yet again this year, and there were loads of amazing local acts on the bill. These are the acts that I had the pleasure of seeing throughout this amazing day…

Due to dayjob commitments, I didn’t manage to get my wristband until about 2PM, so, I legged it from the exchange outside of City, over to Rescue Rooms where I had the pleasure of catching the end of the nicest guy in music, Mr JOSH KEMP’s set. I could hear him as I got to the doors, but I couldn’t bloody see him cause he had absolutely rammed out the place. Seriously, as I fought my way to the bar (and believe me, it was a fight), Josh had the crowd in the palm of his hand, engaging them in singalongs and even having a bit of banter too.

As the crowd settled down a bit, I was lucky enough to get a good spot to actually see the performance area. And who did I have the pleasure of seeing next? Only the incredible vocal talents of ESTHER VAN LEUVEN with FRAZER LOWRIE on backing vocals. I really was blown away by Esther’s vocal performance. She has such a lovely tone to her voice, and when harmonising with Frazer, it created something really special. The bond they have as musicians is clearly strong, and they were clearly very confident on stage – and for good reason, cause it was a bloody awesome performance!

Next we legged it over to the Trent Student Union (after I worked out where the hell it was), where NINA SMITH and her incredibly tight band were performing. Nina is known for putting on great live performances, and this was no different. Nina’s beautiful voice is complimented by her bands huge sound, and this was shown off best when they went into a rendition of her latest single I Won’t Run which managed to be uplifting, touching and crazy catchy all at the same time. She may have had sunglasses on, but I’m pretty sure Nina would’ve been able to see that she had completely won the crowd over.

Luckily for my legs, the next act we wanted to see was actually in the same venue. So, as I returned to the bar for a … water…, I thought how excited I was to hear JOEL BAKER. His latest EP Every Vessel, Every Vein has been on my playlist for weeks now, so I was buzzing to finally hear it live. He didn’t disappoint. Joel has one of those voices that could make even the yellow pages sound interesting, and let’s just say he had a fair few girls swooning in the audience. As he kicked into Further Than Feelings the crowd went crazy, from the catchy riff, to the audience screaming the “woo-hoo, woo-hoo” bits, it really was something special to see. As Every Vessel, Every Vein (the track) ended his set, the room practically became a choir, a cool choir, one that people actually wanted to be a part of.

After a short break from the music (the Top Three wasn’t gonna publish itself you know!), we found ourselves in Hockley to see the amazing FRAZER LOWRIE for his solo set, with BETH FRISBY on backing vocals. As I attempted to walk in, the bouncer informed me that I couldn’t go in as the venue (BrewDog) was over capacity. Yep, Frazer had so many people there to see him, I had to wait for someone to leave before I could get in. I’m glad I stuck around though. Cause, as expected, Frazer delivered an amazing set. An energetic, sweaty, set, but an amazing set nontheless.

As Frazer’s set finished, we legged it (yes, we did consider getting a taxi), over to Rescue Rooms again to see LEAH SINEAD. Unfortunately we only managed to catch her last song, but it was worth the trek, cause Leah backed by her band is really something special to see. Powerful Folk. You don’t often see those words together, but that’s the only way I can think to describe Leah. I’ll definitely be catching more of her set next time!

After Leah, we stuck around a bit as we knew the incredibly uplifting pop sounds of BUD were due anytime now. I’m very glad that we stuck around. BUD’s set was incredible. From the cheery sounds of Happy (which I may have been screaming along to at the top of my lungs, sorry everyone), to the slower, sadder sounds of Goodbye For Now, BUD’s voice can handle anything, and I have to say I was hooked in from the very first song. I’m sure there’s a joke in there about me being happy to see her, and being sad that it’s goodbye for now, but I won’t make that joke cause that would be rubbish…

Next up in Rescue Rooms, we were graced with the Bluesy sounds of RYAN THOMAS, for his first full band performance since his EP launch a few months back. Well, Ryan has a huge, gruff Bluesy sound on his own, but when backed by his band, he absolutely fills the room. Opening number Skinny Woman kicked things off to a great start – I even had the pleasure of backing vocals from a lovely group of drunken middle-aged men, lovely. A few songs in ANWYN WILLIAMS was invited onto the stage to add a bit of a Folky spin on the Blues, and replace the drunken middle aged men. Despite being very different in terms of vocal style, their harmonies were simply beautiful, and when they kicked into At Least Not Yet, the crowd was captivated. Wow.

After the Blues were over, we legged it to the Trent Student Union again (I actually knew where it was this time) to see none other than SAINT RAYMOND. For starters, as expected, you could barely move considering how packed the place was. But that didn’t stop us, we got down into the crowd and had a right good dance to some of his HUGE Indie-Pop tunes. Seriously, Young Blood drove me crazy. I’m still singing “if you like, if you like” right now. The picky guitar lines and hooks had the crowd going mental, and it’s great to see how confident of a performer Callum is now. His band left him at one point for a few solo songs, and he had the near full capacity venue singing along to every word. He’s gonna be playing arena’s very soon with Mr Ed Sheeran, and after this performance, I’m pretty damn sure he’s gonna absolutely smash it!

As midnight approached, we found ourselves in Spanky Van Dykes for KAGOULE’s performance. By this point I was aching, so I’m not gonna lie, I stayed at the back. And I’m kind of glad I did. Within the bands first song, the crowd were going absolutely mental, with mosh pits absolutely everywhere. KAGOULE sounded as good as always, with some awesome riffs, lots of distortion and some incredible vocals. Their new song Glue drove everyone crazy, I reckon they’ve got a cult anthem on their hands with that one. Their set ended in something that I’ve never quite seen before. A mass spanking… Yeah. I would go into detail, but I think you’ll just have to see them yourselves and hope it becomes a regular part of their sets.

So, who did we choose to round off our night? Well, after a bit of silent discoing (which was an… interesting experience), we had a tough decision, as both SHELTER POINT and AJA were playing at pretty much the same time. So, I decided I’d see half of both sets. Turns out SHELTER POINT were a little bit behind schedule, so I legged it from Stealth all the way over to The Bodega… and… I got bloody turned away. Yup, final entry was 2PM, and of course I got there 2:08PM. Story of my life…

Soo, after another sprint back to Stealth, I fluttered my eyelashes at the bouncer who was kind enough to let me back in – and luckily found myself at the start of SHELTER POINT’s set. What a way to round off the night. Seriously, from the beats that draw you in, to that bass that you could feel in your chest, to vocalist Liam’s absolutely stunning falsetto. When they dropped Braile from their 2012 EP Forever For Now I was entranced. They have very big things ahead of them, I’m sure.

Dot to Dot 2014 was absolutely amazing. Nottingham, you did us so proud. I’ve never seen this many amazing acts in such a short space of time; and this Summer Of Love just keeps on getting better and better.

Right, I need a lie down.

Yours in Love of New Music,
Sam Nahirny x