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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Enchanted Palace: A very fashionable exhibition at Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace opens its doors with a very fashionable, fairytale exhibition - featuring the work of fashion stalwarts Dame Vivienne Westwood and Stephen Jones, and new fashion talent Aminaka Wilmont, William Tempest, Boudicca, and Echo Morgan…

Written by Matt Bramford

Another year, ed symptoms another bank holiday at the start of the summer, and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly fail to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

YouTube Preview Image

Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

YouTube Preview Image

Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother describing when I can show demonstrate:

Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

YouTube Preview Image

The second of my 50-50 choices then came, and Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

YouTube Preview Image

It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

YouTube Preview Image

Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

YouTube Preview Image

Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Another year, online another bank holiday at the start of the summer, treatment and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly fail to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

YouTube Preview Image

Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

YouTube Preview Image

Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother describing when I can show demonstrate:

Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

YouTube Preview Image

The second of my 50-50 choices then came, and Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

YouTube Preview Image

It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

YouTube Preview Image

Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

YouTube Preview Image

Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Another year, pilule another bank holiday at the start of the summer, and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly fail to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

YouTube Preview Image

Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

YouTube Preview Image

Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother describing when I can show demonstrate:

Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

YouTube Preview Image

The second of my 50-50 choices then came, and Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

YouTube Preview Image

It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

YouTube Preview Image

Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

YouTube Preview Image

Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Another year, link another bank holiday at the start of the summer, and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly fail to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

YouTube Preview Image

Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

YouTube Preview Image

Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother describing when I can show demonstrate:

YouTube Preview Image

Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

YouTube Preview Image

The second of my 50-50 choices then came, and Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

YouTube Preview Image

It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

YouTube Preview Image

Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

YouTube Preview Image

Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Another year, sale another bank holiday at the start of the summer, and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive centrally-located indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly fail to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

YouTube Preview Image

Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

YouTube Preview Image

Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother with a description when I can offer a demonstration:

YouTube Preview Image

Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

YouTube Preview Image

The second of my 50-50 choices then came, and Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

YouTube Preview Image

It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

YouTube Preview Image

I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

YouTube Preview Image

Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

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Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Another year, viagra another bank holiday at the start of the summer, more about and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, rx a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive centrally-located indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly failed to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

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Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

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Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother with a description when I can offer a demonstration:

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Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

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The second of my 50-50 choices then arrived, as Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

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It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

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I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

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Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

YouTube Preview Image

Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Kensington Palace, pills illustrated by Aniela Murphy

Kensington Palace has been home to some of the most fashionable and glamorous women who ever lived. From Queen Caroline in the 17th century, who patronised many of the struggling artists and scientists of the time and always looked fabulous, right through to my favourite Royal, Princess Margaret – never seen at a party without a fag in one hand and a glass of mother’s ruin in the other.

So it’s no huge surprise that Historic Royal Palaces, keepers of Kensington, have decided to host a rather fashionable temporary exhibition while it renovates the Palace; temporarily for almost two years, that is.

I took a trip there last weekend with the other half and my parents. My parents are wonderful, I have to say, but they aren’t particularly into fashion; my mum was Miss Butlins 1979 – winning, I’m told, because of her fashionable swagger, but together with my father, they couldn’t care less about fashion. So I was a little concerned as to how they’d react to this exhibition – they dig a historic landmark but aren’t down with la mode.

The exhibition, however, successfully combines historical artefacts and new fashion pieces, created especially to occupy the rooms. All this is, of course, housed in the magnificent splendour of the Palace – it’s a win:win situation. We were even treated to a little bit of period dancing in the gardens, so the folks were smiling with glee before we’d even entered the building.

Several rooms are open for viewing. More traditional guests may be disappointed that the Palace’s most famous rooms and exhibitions, such as the royal dresses, are closed for the time being, but regular visitors and fashion fans will be delighted at this innovative and unique transformation of a landmark.

Attendees are provided with a map and quiz sheet – there are seven princesses to find (all previous residents, so don’t cheat on Wikipedia to find the answers first, you’ll spoil your fun!) You won’t be surprised to hear that the most recent is Princess Di – and one of her ensembles, in which she attended a dinner at Bucks Pal, hangs poignantly in a glass case surrounded by white feathers.

The rooms have been given rather pretentious titles, which at first hearing, sound somewhat superficial. As you spend time in each of the rooms, though, you soon discover that the names have incredible meaning. Take, for example, the first room – ‘The Room of Tears’. The centre piece is a specially-designed piece by fashion design duo Aminaka Wilmont – a lifeless mannequin lays elegantly, facing the ceiling, draped in Aminaka Wilmont’s creation of silk, embellished with hundreds and thousands of crystals. ‘We were really inspired by the sense of sorrow and sadness in the room,’ Marcus Wilmont said of his creation. It does hold sadness, but the essence of their piece, which lies like an illusion, provides an incredibly serene setting. The room is dedicated to [insert name of Princess here, when you've visited the exhibition!] whose tears were collected in glass bottles – some of which (the bottles, not the tears) are on display.


Aminaka Wilmont’s Dress of Tears, illustrated by Michelle Urvall Nyrén

Other rooms include a grand, sweeping staircase, at the top of which stands Dame Vivienne Westwood’s incredible creation. Westwood’s general themes, of aristocratic and royal dresses sexed up, tie in perfectly with the exhibition, and this was by far my favourite piece. An architectural feat, this sculpted number creates the illusion of a princess running down the stairs.


Vivienne Westwood’s Dress for a Rebellious Princess, illustrated by Natsuki Otani

There’s also fantastic creations by fresh London design talent – William Tempest gives his take on the longest reigning monarch’s bedroom – his piece hangs from the ceiling and is made up of thousands of origami birds, embodying the shapely figure of said Princess (sorry to be so vague, I really don’t want to give the game away!)

Boudicca have created metallic sculptural pieces that hang precariously from the ceiling, Stephen Jones showcases some of his finest millinery, inspired by a bust of Isaac Newton; and new kid on the block Echo Morgan has created an amazing sculptural piece – part mantua, part lantern, featuring the most wonderful illustrations.


Echo Morgan’s Dress of the World, illustrated by Natasha Thompson

At this exhibition, there’s much fun to be had. The addition of a game to discover each of the princesses is a fantastic touch, and a unique way of exploring this magnificent building. Go!

Open until January 2011. See Kensington Palace’s website here for all the details and to book tickets.

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