Manchester Stories and Tips

Dot to Dot Music Festival 2012

Rob Milton, Dog is Dead Photo, Manchester, England

I am fortunate enough to have a well above average income in the UK, but even I balk at the price of attending some music festival tickets these days. So when I spotted a full day's entertainment in nearby Manchester with over 60 bands playing at 5 venues for just £20, I jumped at the chance.

Obviously at this kind of price you aren't going to see the real top acts of the moment, but you do get a chance to spot the next up and coming artist a year or two before the masses. The headline acts this year were The Drums, Pulled Apart By Horses, and the wonderful Willy Mason. Previous Dot to Dot festivals have showcased the talents of the likes of Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine. You also occasionally get chance to see what happened to some of the "next big things" of yesteryear assuming they didn't make it big; still plugging away hoping for that break.

Dot to Dot Music Festival has been going for seven years, and has now extended to a weekend of events jumping from UK city to city each day. This year saw the action in Bristol, Nottingham and the third day in Manchester. Wall to wall music is available from around 2 pm until past 3 am the following morning.

I first went to music gigs over 30 years ago, and you might think that someone of my advanced years might look and feel uncomfortable in such a throng. Fortunately it helps that I've never dressed particularly "old" having never moved much beyond that student scruffy Goth look of the early 1980’s – all of a sudden it's back in fashion yey!

It also helps that a significant minority of Dot to Dot fans are in their 30's, 40's and beyond. It seems the days of "acting your age" are behind us.

There are disadvantages to being an older Dot to Dot attendee however. First, we laughed long and loud at the thought of being on our feet wandering from venue to venue for 13 hours solid. We chopped a couple of hours off the beginning and end, missing some of the smaller bands.

Second, we had the grace to realise that 5 young skinny people could watch the band in place of 2 people my size in the Sound Control Basement Club (even assuming we could squeeze through the throng of folks at the entrance without causing a life threatening crush). Instead we rested our legs at the other side of the bar and listened.

Third, it seems that the "bombs" of plastic glasses of water, beer or urine thrown across a crowded hall of revellers upset older folk than it does the kids. Mind you, the pair of stunningly clean cut and fresh faced teenage lads didn't look too happy as they took the full force of a "bomb" of urine, helpfully deflecting the flow entirely from yours truly in the HMV Ritz.

I just try to remember that urine is a sterile liquid and most teenagers probably haven't been up to the naughty activities that might lead to hepatitis. If you want to avoid the risk of leaving the venue smelling of someone else's urine you can obviously just stay at the back of the hall. However, where's the fun in that?

It's also worth mentioning the diversity of the music; I tend to like a mix of music, so appreciate that the experience of others might be different. If your musical choice tends towards the metal end, then bands like Turbowolf were there for you; if you like rock folk then the likes of Lucy Rose and Willy Mason would also keep you happy.

So that's Dot to Dot in a nutshell; enough to keep the most demanding musio happy, price keen enough for a miser, and enough variety for the oldest hipster to enjoy. Look out for Dot to Dot 2013 early next summer.

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