Words and photos by Keira Anee
I had planned to get some rest this Sunday after a long week and an all day gig on Saturday to see Nuha Ruby Ra; especially after 20 bands and the best day at LOUD WOMEN Fest last week.
But, I’m shit at sticking to plans. When the DOT-TO-DOT festival invite arrived, I jumped on it. And a train. To Nottingham. Where it was. (I do still really want to see Nuha though).
It still gets me excited to have a hotel room; it feels like it’s something that glamorous people do. This one (the ibis in Nottingham) gave me an extra ‘worth it’ wiggle this weekend.
But wiggles aside, the first band I had on my 16 band schedule for the day (I can dream) was Penny Moon. By the time I arrived (on time is always late) the small, mostly seated venue was busy. I made some friends at the front by a shared intimidation of the really high stools, and sat on the floor. They told me the band was new, and that they were a great reason to arrive early! They weren’t wrong, and it’s a shame I wasn’t able to stick around longer.
The venue upstairs, The Bodega, was showing Regressive Left. It’s a little smaller than I remember, the audience are close to the band, so it’s a great place to see bands that might usually play somewhere bigger. This I suspect may soon be the case for Regressive Left. I’ve seen their name on line ups for festivals over the summer, enough to be curious.
A quote from the band from Loud and Quiet magazine, “Everything is political, even if you are just trying to make people dance”, interested me. They are a dancey-punk three piece, that at half past two were really bringing the kind of energy that makes you shocked to go outside and find it still light.
With no photo pit, a short person (me) adjusted their plans for the day. With a small break away to the main stage, Rock City, to see Black Honey and Girl Band (no girls, alas), and Deep Tan at the downstairs venue within, the line up at Bodega was so good I would stay there. A lot of people around me made plans to do so too!
Wych Elm, from Bristol, have just released an EP, Rabbit Wench. In a way that is entirely useless for a music review, I remember that I made a note to see them again, but not what they sound like. Thankfully the internet is out there, and from that I can tell you what it is I enjoyed; “scrappy, menacing and contemplative grungy indie rock with a touch of the macabre ”. (TY, Bandcamp). Quoting from a post on Facebook, the song ‘Wench’ on the new EP is about “Misogynistic men with mummy issues. Caitlin had been in a relationship with one of these men…”
Next on are LIINES, who I don’t think I’ve seen for three years at this point and I’m looking forward to it. As is the crowd, most of whom have been there since Regressive Left. I can see Desperate Journalist T-shirts and hear talking about Arch Femmesis (who are my last band of the day) while waiting.
This is the first time I’ve seen LIINES play in too long, and it makes me really sorry, as this was everything I needed to hear. Zoe is friendly and funny with the crowd and sings with a voice you can really feel. The riffs and bass are stunning and with the songs I’ve not heard before, I’m already dancing to.
Through Richard Morgan at Indie Midlands, I’ve seen the Grandma’s House name a few times. As an opinion I trust, I stay to see them play after LIINES. They were hard and heavy, referencing the devil himself I believe! Also from Bristol, a ‘queer punk trio’ with screams that would keep any spider out.
Next was Black Honey at Rock City. I haven’t seen Black Honey since I leant singer Izzy some lip balm at a Wytches gig, and wow. They’re worth getting to know from the first three songs (no flash) alone. Izzy dominates the stage and it’s so fulfilling to see a lot of women in the crowd.
Something that I wouldn’t have expected since their crowds I’ve seen previously have crazy mosh pits, but this was also the case at the front for Girl Band (again: no girls in Girl Band). With reference to the crowd, someone I had spoken to earlier in the day was saying how in Nottingham, a lot of men are now aware of letting women and shorter people to the front. This came after a band at Rock City asked photographers to leave when blocking the view of a woman who had queued at the front for hours. I started to think it might be true!
Girl Band’s music is relatable to anyone who talks to themself. Or, has ever panicked. Albeit in a strange way:
“Ate eight bananas and I thought about a jog
Legged it around the gaff and took my top off
I look crap with my top off.
Snorted a wasp and told them to eff off
Know what I mean?
I go downstairs at Rock City to see Deep Tan at the Black Cherry Lounge. In contrast, I love Deep Tan because they make you feel fucking fabulous, both with and without your top off.
On stage they are confident and again, a quick look around shows me to be surrounded by a more diverse crowd than say, oh, entirely men! This is still news to me, but one day soon I hope to find thoughts like this entirely out of place.
“Can we turn the AC off please? We want it to be hot and sweaty up here…”
On their last song, Celeste’s bass comes unplugged, and the music stops. (She’s looking for the plug, and I get that feeling that what I thought with no glasses on was a spider wandering around the floor was actually the missing plug: It was.) Things like this happen all the time, and how the band deals with it shows a lot about how much they are enjoying what they do. Deep Tan are smiling, and rather than end the set, go back to where the bass stopped and start again. The crowd aren’t any less into it and go back to being (speaking for myself anyway) completely entranced.
A little worried about being able to get back into the Bodega, I head straight there. Not on my list, Walt Disco were on the last songs of their set, wow! As the NME describes, ‘flamboyant goth glam’. Having the whole day planned, I forgot how festivals like this are the best for discovering new bands by accident.
Drugstore Romeos are dreamy and a completely different kind of wow. The kind of wow with flutes and David Lynch type soundtrack eerie. Eerie by being beautiful?
The venue by the time they finish is packed. Next band is Yard Act, who I discovered early this year in lockdown via Deep Tan. I’m so glad to have gotten here early as it’s clear a lot of people won’t be able to get in, sadly.
The third time I’ve seen Yard Act this summer (I’m a fan, see) and the crowd are all familiar with songs from the EP and in particular, new single The Overload. You already know I’m shit at describing music (and now only ever do so for a hotel room and dot to dot ticket), but thought I wasn’t being too far off when likening Yard Act’s lyrical wit to Leonard Cohen. Certainly less romantic and more next door (hi Graham) coming from Leeds, but songs like Peanuts and Fixer Upper tell a story in a way that before I was listening to Yard Act for the music, I was listening to hear lines I’d missed. They are an all male band, if you will, a ‘token’ in my day, still a look around the front of the stage shows a mix of people – including women! Nottingham, you have surprised me and made me very happy.
The set is short but really tight (I say this, but I am not even a little bit of a musician. In short, I mean I think it sounded good. But want to sound knowledgeable.) The band themselves seem really friendly and the audience, not at all listening for the first time, are lining up to speak to the band after.
But my favourite band today are themselves from Nottingham. With a name as cutting as Arch Femmesis and songs such as ‘Rejectile Dysfunction’, this band are cutting and straight talking about what is often a very nonsensical – and amusing – point. “You only think with your pussy BITCH!” A two piece playing at The Angel, which in its long history, has been both a place of worship and a brothel, Arch Femmesis own the place. Everyone is dancing. Singer Annie who looks a bit like Lady Gaga tonight is quick witted, funny, and ends the sweaty set (“Fuck me when I say so”) by saying, “Well, I’m a teacher, so I have to be up tomorrow. Thanks for coming!”
Really hope to see them play for LOUD WOMEN (heavy suggestion here).
After a long day, I got to go back to the Hotel only a 4 minute walk from the venue. This is a luxury I’m not used to, so stayed out till 4am talking about the Arch Femmesis set with other people who were there. It would have just been weird to not have been tired the next day.
Back at the Ibis, my hotel bed was very comfy, and I melted when I saw there was a box of Quality Street left out. Will be staying here next year for the festival!