Dot to Dot Festival 2019: Live Review

Mitch James – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
Mitch James is a New Zealand born artist who moved to London and ended up on the streets

He moved to Amsterdam and got arrested twice for busking

When you hear stories like that you realise it could all have ended up very differently

Instead he wrote a song about the experience called “No Fixed Abode” which ended up being streamed 20 million times and playing Dot To Dot Festival

It’s an early afternoon slot, but the room is packed and people are swaying – I’m not sure there’s much you can do apart from sway or nod to an acoustic gig

Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz are obvious reference points here, but these are just really really good songs with “Bright Blue Skies” and “21” being standouts

Mitch James is a natural storyteller and that’s what so compelling – the music draws you in, but the stories make sure you stick around and listen intently

James Gillespie – Red Room, Nottingham

You can sense that James Gillespie will be an absolutely huge artist in 2020

It’s not that he’s been tipped by Elton John as an artist to watch for in 2019 already – an endorsement only gets you so far

It’s down to the fact that the front row is mouthing every single lyric back to Gillespie on every single song. And that’s rare for an artist at this stage of his career

Blokes with an acoustic guitar have had a bad rep over the past few years with the likes of Ed Sheeran and James Arthur producing music for call centre staff, but emerging are artists with genuine raw emotion and talent. There’s a grit, a soul and an authenticity that owes more to Dermot Kennedy than it does anything else. Perhaps it’s his background being London-born and Scottish raised that he has the folk sounds and city sounds merging

Gillespie is the soundtrack to love and loss and joy and heartbreak

Love Sick  – Red Room, Nottingham

Love Sick – one of those acts with a huge pop sound whilst still being credible

It’s hard to imagine a world where this pop duo don’t go on to Dua Lipa sized breakthrough success

And I mean that. The UK’s biggest pop duo could be heading straight out of Glasgow

“Make It” and “Bullet” already sounds like a huge bangers – they sound like hit records on the very 1st listen – and that’s the beauty of Love Sick

They have the appeal of the pop underground who could appeal to fans of Fickle Friends and Yungblud and they have the mainstream sound that appeals to fans of Dua Lipa and Calvin Harris

If Love Sick don’t become massive than pop as we know it is f**ked  

Swimming Girls – NTU Students Union, Nottingham

When Swimming Girls supported Pale Waves last year it was a bill that made perfect sense

If Pale Waves are Edward Scissorhands gothic pop then Swimming Girls take in Heathers – glossy and shiny with dark undertones

Much has been mentioned of the Cyndi Lauper influence, but there are hints of Belinda Carlisle and the Bangles here. Chiming guitar lines, dreamy floaty vocals and hooks, big big hooks

That Swimming Girls formed as part of a music project by random and were told to simply “write a great song” shows just how much this was meant to be. It’s been written in the stars

Tonight is a sparser show as the venue is one of the Dot To Dot Nottingham venues that’s a little away from the main hub, but those that are there are witnessing something special. It will become one of those Dot to Dot I was there moments if they keep writing songs like “Back of Your Car” and “12 Many”

Feet – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Bad shirts, bad dance moves, top tunes

If you summed up Feet in one sentence it would be that

But it totally undersells how good there are. Imagine quirky Blur on the likes of “Popscene” rather than “Parklife” and “Country House” – throw in a sprinkle of disco, Shame and XTC and you’re there

Feet are not landfill indie ala The Wombats and The Kooks, but you find these ear worms working their way into your brain

The venue by the time Feet come on is sweaty, it’s overcrowded and everyone from 16 to late 50s is going – well f**king mental. The bands energy is infectious and it’s the only time you could say the band are enjoying the show more than the crowd in a non-derogatory jazz insult

“English Weather” sounds like Damon Albarn fronting Happy Mondays, “Petty Thieving” sounds like Shame without the aggression, “Ad Blue” is Mark E Smith covering Right Said Fred

Get your dancing shoes on. Feet are impossible to watch standing still