Nottingham Stories and Tips

Dot to Dot Festival 2013

Rhodes at Dot to Dot 2013 Photo, Nottingham, England

At my advanced age 30 years after my first gigging experiences, you might think going to see live rock music is something mostly beyond me (bar perhaps the odd 1980s Human League revival tour).

While to be fair the thought of the large outdoor 3 day festivals no longer appeal (it's the mud, toileting facilities and litter that I find most abhorrent), but one day extravaganzas with its mix of new bands to discover together with old favourites, still draw me in. At the end of the festival we can retire and lodge in a comfortable hotel and let the kids party 'til dawn elsewhere.

One show we regularly attend is the end of May Dot to Dot Festival which has now been running each spring in the UK for 7 years or so. The Dot to Dot festival is reasonably priced with tickets coming in at £20 ($30) per person, and comprise of a choice of 50+ up and coming bands all playing at one of about half a dozen venues dotted around the city. It is very pleasant hopping from venue to venue and seeing a bit of band x and then vocalist y just down the street. The one day event hops between Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester on consecutive nights, with most of the acts playing all three venues.

If you have the stamina the fun can be stretched out from the first act kicking off at around 1:30pm until 3:00am the following day. This year, I managed from 3pm until just after midnight.

In previous years Dot to Dot has seen bands that have gone onto greater success such as Mumford and Sons and Jake Bugg perform. This year's headliners were the 1975, Dry the River and Tom O’Dell, and the set list overall had a distinct folk tinge to it this year, although there were rock bands to catch for a bit of variety too.

Last year we managed to ignore much of the Royal Jubilee festivities by attending the Manchester bash, and this year we concluded the Nottingham event would be the best timed for us. The Dot to Dot even seems to get bigger and more popular each year, and we found Nottingham’s event to be busier than Manchester (no act that we saw failed to get a sizable audience, which was good for new artists wanting to showcase their offer). The downside is that if you want to see one of the headline acts then you need to get to the venue early to avoid a lengthy queue; this might mean you skip seeing another preferred band at a different venue.

The venues veer from artists performing in small one or two room bars to doing their set in the large Rock City club in Nottingham with a capacity of 2,000.

The other good thing about Dot to Dot is that it attracts a varied and relaxed audience; I didn't feel like the oldest swinger in town at the venues and we didn't spot any trouble anywhere (apart from one loon crashing to the ground during a crowd surf gone wrong moment).

Hopefully I'll see you at Dot to Dot 2014!

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