The first of three days across England for Dot to Dot Festival began in Manchester on a warm day, perfect to revel in the great music the city produces and music from all over England that has come to the city. Spread across 27 venues were hundreds of incredible bands and the organisation of the whole festival was excellent after the horrific attack in Manchester a few days earlier.

Early in the afternoon were DE’NOVA, a pop-rock band slowly building their way through Manchester’s music scene. They played in a very dark basement in Mint Lounge to about 20 people who had come out early to check out the local band. Despite being a guitarist short of their usual line-up they still gave out an excellent performance and brought some atmosphere to the rather dead dance floor they were playing on.

Further down the road in Manchester’s Northern Quarter were Puppet Rebellion. They are a band that have established themselves well across the city and have played some fantastic shows across the country. Playing on a Scruff of the Neck Records organised stage meant that they were in good company with the likes of SKIES and Glass Caves playing later in the day. Puppet Rebellion had an extra guitarist with them which should have added some extra power to their already strong set, however they seemed to have been affected by the hot venue and early evening time-slot. Puppet Rebellion still put in a strong performance and had a group of fans dancing and singing although they have sounded much better before.

Heading across the city to the main venue, Albert Hall, The Slow Readers Club were warming up the crowd who had got down early to make sure they had a spot for headline act Sundara Karma. The Slow Readers Club had a large following themselves and the majority of the crowd were wearing their merchandise and singing they’re emotional songs back from the balcony that runs around the beautiful venue. All dressed in black and looking very organised they showed why they’re becoming a household name for music fans ahead of their UK tour later this year.

Louis Berry brought some life to the Albert Hall with his fast paced guitar and Bob Dylan style songs. Hard to understand but easy to get involved with his show was one of the highlights of the day. Louis Berry looked a strong figure on stage and moved around with the passion and energy he gave out in his songs. The venue was nearly full by the end of his set and lots of energy bouncing around the room from people of all ages.

Headline act Sundara Karma took to the stage to a roar of screams and cheers, the much awaited band from Reading were definitely the fans favourite for the day. Sundara Karma played with real power and flair and showed why they’ll be breaking into the charts with songs like “She Said” and “Flame”. Slower, more therapeutic songs like “Family Rain” brought the audience together and singing in unison and reminiscing on the days music all across the city.

Despite the headline band having finished, Dot to Dot wasn’t over. Corella were playing in what looked like a stock room in the basement of Kosmonaut. The tiny room and low wooden ceiling wasn’t a great venue for a band which has anthemic songs like “Waterfall”. Despite the drawbacks of the venue Corella played a brilliant show to a full crowd even though the start of their set clashed with Sundara Karma.

Closing the festival were one of Manchester’s finest new bands, Jordan Allen. They played at midnight in Ruby Lounge, a venue which has recently held bands like The View. Jordan Allen are consistently strong in their live shows and didn’t disappoint at Dot to Dot. They played all the dates for the festival in Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol and have worked hard to get to where they are now. Their hard work has paid off and they were one of the best bands on the day. With songs like “Rosie” which gets the crowd singing and “Helter Skelter” which has real passion and energy for people to dance they have an impressive set list. A song written about lead singer Allen’s father dying, “110 Way To Make Things Better”, was re-appropriated for this show as they dedicated it the 22 people who lost their lives in the Manchester attack. The city has stood together since and there was a great turn out to Dot to Dot and lots of people showing their support for the music and city.

Words: Stuart Daley

Photo: Lewis Evans