Dot To Dot Festival, Nottingham, UK, May 26, 2024 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  


Bored Marsh, Picture Parlour, Bloodworm, Ducks Ltd.

Dot To Dot Festival, Nottingham, UK, May 26, 2024,

May 30, 2024 Photography by Lee Raynor Web Exclusive
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Forget camping in a wet and muddy field for four days, multi-venued inner city festivals are the way forwards. Which is probably why Dot To Dot is still going strong after eighteen years. Having first opened its doors in 2005, the festival has grown into one of the most prestigious weekends on the festival calendar. Not only with regards to the Nottingham leg where it all started, but also its sister event in Bristol which took place twenty-four hours earlier. Taking place across twenty-two stages spread around various parts of the city, Dot To Dot unsurprisingly represents one of the busiest days for Nottingham’s venues, bars and clubs which is obviously welcomed during this bleak economic climate.

The first two bands we see, Bored Marsh and Bloodworm, are a prime indication of how far the city’s music scene has progressed in recent months. Although relatively new in terms of releases and gigs played, both have amassed large fanbases due mainly to their incendiary live shows and word of mouth from those that’s witnessed them. For Bored Marsh, playing at the early time of 215pm while most people are still on their way in to the city, they managed to pack Rough Trade to the rafters with punters clamouring on tables and other folks’ shoulders just to get a view. Playing a set consisting of six songs, the band have grown in confidence immeasurably over the past eighteen months. So much in fact that they can comfortably omit debut single “The Grind” from the setlist, safe in the knowledge their new material is good enough to carry them to the next level. Opener “Alright, OK!” draws off a similar sonic palette to The Chameleons or The Sound, while “Idiot” has a brooding, showstopper sentiment about it. There’s even a brand new song (working title “Let It Out”) for good measure before the familiar strains of “Come Around” and “Honest Day’s Work” brings their set to a close. By the end, the queue to buy t-shirts and any other merch they can get hold of stretches from front-to-back of the venue.

Bored Marsh
Bored Marsh

Meanwhile, over yonder in the slightly larger confines of the Metronome, the buzz around Bloodworm sees them also fill the venue which is no mean feat for a band that were playing third on bills to twenty people just over a year ago. Since then, it’s been one continuous upwards trajectory culminating in headline shows around the UK and festival slots at Sheffield’s Get Together and yesterday’s Bristol leg of this very festival. Opening with the familiar couplet of “Alone In Your Garden” and “Bloodlust” - the two oldest songs in the set - the three-piece set the scene immaculately for what follows. New song “No Face” is a ^Music banger in waiting, while the audience sings back the chorus of “Depths” word for word. “Back Of A Hand” has become a live favourite in recent months and goes down a storm here, while the ever-popular “Cemetery Dance” gets the whole room moving before a skyscraping “Clairvoyance” brings the show to a blistering finale. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Nevertheless, Under the Radar finds a band whose show is on a par. Namely Toronto’s excellent Ducks Ltd., whose core duo of Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis are extended to a four-piece for the live setting. Playing a set consisting of songs mainly taken from this year’s sophomore long player Harm’s Way, Ducks Ltd. are nothing short of a revelation. Comparisons to The Wedding Present (George Best/Tommy eras) and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart aren’t wide of the mark as songs like “Train Full Of Gasoline” and “Cathedral City” roll by incessantly, barely coming up for air. Relentlessly ploughing through the nine songs in their set as if it were the band’s last, “Heavy Bag” segueing into “The Main Thing” before a delirious “Hollowed Out” gives way to a celebratory “18 Cigaettes” off the duo’s debut LP Modern Fiction, its probably fair to say Ducks Ltd. have won over a new legion of fans this afternoon.

Ducks Ltd.
Ducks Ltd.

A festival like Dot To Dot is more about discovering the new then sticking with the familiar, so Bath’s Night Swimming and local collective Dura Mater brief but present interludes from the torrential downpour that thankfully clears up within half an hour or so. The former’s elegant dreampop melting effortlessly into Rough Trade’s sombre backdrop while the latter remind us in parts of Chumbawamba, other parts Black Country New Road as they ply their wares in The Carousel. Upstairs in The Chapel of the Angel Microbrewery, electronic trio TRANKS are creating a death disco of their own that owes as much to early New Order and Human League as it does the latter day likes of Nine Inch Nails or Depeche Mode. Another band whose stature has grown in recent times, there’s a new found confidence in the way Christian Davis elegantly flits between drumkit and lead vocals midsong that makes them a captivating watch as well as a band that’s impossible to stand still to.

Fellow Nottingham trio Rain Age have also emerged as ones to watch in recent months, and in singing guitarist Kieran Poole possess someone that can bring intensity to a children’s birthday party if you let him, such is the unerring way he portrays himself on stage. Songs like “Domesticated Living” and “WPD” create a raucous melee of limbs at the front, while “Hole In The Sun” and “Islanders” convey a message of hopelessness that’s also quite infectious and danceworthy. By the time the familiar strains of colossal set closer “Ease-Up” brings the show to a close, there’s set dripping off the Chapel’s roof, which is no mean feat considering how high up it is.


Over in the Rescue Rooms’ Red Room, the brilliant Adwaith are treating Nottingham to their Welsh language set that encompasses all genres from punk to pop and shoegaze while containing one of the greatest songs written this decade in “ETO” which closes their set. Another of Under the Radar’s favourite acts in recent times Picture Parlour have pulled one of the biggest audiences of the day with people still queuing outside and around the block as they’re about to go on stage. When they do play, its a dynamic masterclass in distinguished emotion-heavy punk pop that’s part theatrical but also quite heavily accentuated towards all out rock. “Judgement Day” and “Face In The Picture” elicit moshpits while debut siingle “Norwegian Wood” finds the band being serenaded by their own audience during the song’s chorus.

Finally, we bow out to the strains of Girlband!, yet another fine example of why Nottingham is in such a healthy place musically right now. This time last year we saw them play an early evening slot so it’s to their credit they’re 2024’s headliners at the Bodega, a venue which holds a special place for the band as it housed some of their earliest shows. Nevertheless, the trio have become one of the city’s most talked about acts and hot off the back of selling out the Rescue Rooms seven days earlier, they’re given a rousing reception throughout this late night/early morning soiree. Current single “21st Century Suffragette” goes down a storm, as does its predecessor “Not Like The Rest”, which ranks as one of this year’s finest debut singles.


As another successful Dot To Dot draws to a close, Under the Radar is left to ponder a very rewarding voyage of discovery. Same time, same place next year!


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