With Dananananakroyd, Fixers, Cults...

Dot To Dot, aside from being yet another inner-city festival in the weeks prior to the start of the season proper, has become a popular draw since its inception in 2005 and has expanded into a weekend-long event with legs in Bristol and Manchester over the same Bank Holiday weekend. But it's Nottingham, its original home, that I have decided to explore.

Over five venues there are more than sixty bands vying for my attention. Subsequently, this means that are many artists that we just can't see. So I apologise now for not managing to catch glimpses of We Are Scientists, Braids, Hurts, Guillemots, Colourmusic (not Colour Of Music as I tried to explain to some guy mid-afternoon) and at least ten other shows recommended to me. However, the upshot was that there was a good performance at nearly every turn.

Needless to say, festivals like this are never all about the headline-grabbers; it's equally about finding your new favourite band(s). Royal Gala, a local outfit, get things going with a carnival atmosphere in a university student union bar/cafe. To get a 2pm crowd on-side is a very respectable achievement and frontwoman Louise doesn't stop dancing throughout. Foreign Office also fare well in the afternoon in the ridiculously warm basement of Rock City with an impressive set of funk-driven pop that gets audience members buying their merchandise without hesitation. However, at Stealth, Yaaks don't quite deliver the same reaction. Despite being energetic and frenetic their rhythm-led tunes didn't live up to their unique-sounding name and ultimately you're left feeling quite cold.

In the evening, the place to be is the main hall of Nottingham Trent University's Student Union with a terrific triple header. Dananananakroyd play a set that feels ridiculously brief, but they deliver more in the space of twenty minutes than most artists. It's indie pop with an almighty-punch and a big dose of fun, which is best summed up by the following on-stage quote: 'You may or may not like us but you can't say we're not silly!'. They don't play a huge amount of new material from forthcoming album, There Is A Way, due to the unfortunate time constraints, but what is showcased doesn't seem to deviate too much from their self-proclaimed 'fight pop' formula that won them plaudits in the first place.

Also bringing the noise are Welsh trio The Joy Formidable, who you will most likely see at a festival at some point this summer due to their mammoth tour schedule. The good news is that they are pretty much ready for them given that they're now one of the UK's most exciting live bands. Clearly enjoying themselves on stage, clearly well road-trained already and clearly with the big tunes that can slay a packed audience without prior warning. Not only that but they're delightfully loud. The highlight is set closer Whirring, accompanied by unexpected disco ball lights that make things feel more like an indie high school prom than rock show, which ascends and ascends until it can't go any further.

In a city filled to the brim with new, young, fresh bands it feels strange for a band such as …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, who are now seven albums into their career, to be featuring but they do provide a welcome change. They're not as eager to impress, and you could argue they don't need to with that many records under their belt, and their vast experience equals a tight and polished a performance over the course of an hour. It also takes them a while to properly get going but around the half-way mark something clicks and all of a sudden Jason Reece is mingling with the crowd and they illicit the only crowd-surfers to be seen all day.

As Fixers and Cults fulfil the needs of the remaining hipsters that decide to party on into the night at Bodega, which is packed way before midnight, Dot To Dot comes to an end. What did we learn? Nothing that you probably didn't already know. Still, it was a fun day that should have left all punters with satisfactory grins on their faces.

Words by Max Raymond

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