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FESTIVAL REPORT: Dot To Dot (Nottingham)

When: 29th May 2022
Where: various venues, Nottingham, England

Dot to Dot stands out against many British festivals due to the fact that in the last ten years it has barely grown. Arguably 2022’s edition presented the lowest number of “big name” acts in the last ten years. At least when considering the Nottingham edition it was also arguably the best of the last decade.

For what Dot to Dot has succeeded in doing, rather than expanding beyond its means like a lot of festivals do before becoming unmanageable and unprofitable before ceasing to exist, is building a much stronger link with the Nottingham music scene. Whereas ten years ago the festival, and more largely its owners DHP, seemed to run almost at odds to the city’s independent music circles and treat local acts as an after thought, now there is a full integration. Whether this is out of choice or necessity is arguable, but there has been a notable and very welcome change.

Local acts Champyun Clouds and I Am Lono are two of the highlights. The former are the latest in an ever increasing line of artists who eschew the typical “rock set up” and forego live percussion. This is something that was seemingly spearheaded by fellow Nottingham based duo Sleaford Mods, but Champyun Clouds‘ music sits in a different world entirely, at times touching on Animal Collective and at others evoking the faintest memories of Madchester whilst being underpinned by quietly virtuoso guitar work.

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Champyun Clouds

The latter have been a staple of the local scene for a while and whilst they haven’t broken out like you might expect after witnessing them over the years they still deliver with an intense, slightly sleazy brand of post-punk that puts them up there with purveyors of the scene like Girls In Synthesis and Desperate Journalist.

With artists being given half price ticket links, discounted from an already extremely fair price of £25 that also doesn’t appear to have changed in years, these and other native acts are well supported throughout the day and combined with Nottingham Forest’s playoff escapades it gave a feeling of local pride in a city that doesn’t normally have a lot of it.

Not all the best offerings came from the cities metaphorical walls, however. Mandy, Indiana‘s set at the Bodega was a revelation. Their sound is hard to pin down but there are vague points of comparison to Battles and HEALTH, with frontperson Valentine Caulfield‘s impenetrable (well, unless you can speak French..) vocals snaking between the furious synths and percussion blasts the rest of the band create as she snakes around the venue herself.

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Far Caspian

Far more restrained though by no means less interesting are Far Caspian, who may annoy some who initially read their band name as two separate bands on festival line-ups but delight with a hazy, mid-afternoon set of expertly crafted dreamy indie pop. Playing at the main stage of the Rock City venue around the same time, Just Mustard are presented with a thin crowd that doesn’t initially seem too warm to the five piece’s newer more subdued material but are eventually won over. Like a number of other acts the bright advertisements for the festival’s sponsor Super Bock are distracting against moody onstage lighting, but the beer’s quality in relation to that of other festival beer sponsors means it is forgivable.

Overall, Dot To Dot is more relevant and more fun than it ever has been and whilst it isn’t a festival that you’d take a flight for it is definitely one that is recommended for anyone within its reach.

Photos: Jordan Dowling

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.