Festival continues a fine tradition of fresh acts
by Ryan Butcher
Festivals these days tend to be synonymous with trench foot, waterproof coats and a few feet of mud.
That's good old English weather for you.
Even when we've had a week or so of scorching sunshine, the heavens still managed to open on Sunday for this year's Dot to Dot festival, in Nottingham.
But while this would have spelled disaster for your run-of-the-mill field-based festivals, it was merely a case of a quick dash through the city centre from one music venue to the next.
Akin to the likes of Camden Crawl et al, Dot to Dot takes the festival formula while simultaneously taking advantage of its established music venues, such as Rock City and Rescue Rooms.
Each venue has its own line-up and with the flash of a wristband you can get in anywhere in the city.
I've been banging on about it for a couple of weeks now but this year's line-up was simply extraordinary mixing some old indie favourites like The Drums and Willy Mason with some of alternative music's best up-and-coming artists.
Take Wavves, for example. The band brought one of their typical raucous shows of American surf pop fused to one of the newest additions to Dot to Dot's circuit, the Jongleurs comedy club.
Playing a set drawn largely upon what is considered to be their breakthrough album King of the Beach, this is exactly the kind of set that Dot to Dot has become known for.
With their throwback sound and angular guitars, Wavves are one of those bands currently lighting up the blog-o-sphere. And while Dot to Dot boasts an impressive roster of past performers from The xx to Florence and the Machine, each of these bands played the festival while in their relative infancy, just like Wavves.
Another prime example is Pure Love, who also played Jongleurs earlier in the day. Fronted by Frank Carter, the ex-screamer of rotten punks Gallows, the band proved to be one of the unsuspecting highlights with Carter showcasing a new melodic vocal range in what can only be described as a more traditional rock outfit.
In fact, whether it was the ramshackle grunge of A Plastic Rose in Rescue Rooms, the soothing acoustic harmonies of Nottingham's own Gallery 47 in the next door bar, or the infectious fashion-pop of Friends, I could run through highlight after highlight from this year's festival.
But I couldn't escape without bringing up the battle for supremacy between two of the city's most promising local acts – Jake Bugg and Dog Is Dead, who both performed to rapturous hometown crowds in the main room of Rock City, with only one act separating them.
In the red corner we have indie quintet Dog Is Dead, who, signed to Atlantic, have a promising future ahead of them – and with the confidence they exude on stage as they walk out to friends and family in the crowd, I think someone might have told them that.
One thing you can say about Dog Is Dead though is that they know their way around a hook and they're not afraid to shy way from their pop sensibilities, as shown from singles like River Jordan and Two Devils.
But over in the blue corner, playing a couple of hours before Dog Is Dead, is up and coming troubadour Jake Bugg.
Comparisons with the likes of Bob Dylan would be a bit too easy for this young and gifted musician. While Bugg certainly has the knack for storytelling, his voice has its own unique quality and a sincerity which is all-too rare in the industry these days.
As for the winner? There can only be one and that's got to be the fans in attendance, across the whole day of sets and performances. Once again, Dot to Dot has cemented itself as a festival for catching future headliners before they're launched into the stratosphere of the mainstream – and all without the trench foot, too.