ROADTRIP!! 12.30 on Sunday afternoon sat in my mum's house in Swinton, just over two hours later picking up a Dot To Dot wristband in Nottingham and watching bands, the best antidote to the attack on our home city and our music loving family last week.
Our first port of call is Trent Uni where we catch most of Babe Punch's energetic set to a busy crowd. The local five piece run through songs from their recent Control EP, finishing with the title track, and a brilliant new song called Medicine. The only quibble we'd have is their cover of Wicked Game, but only really because we'd love to hear more of their own material delivered with a real passion by singer Molly and the rest of the band. These type of festivals are great for discovering new bands you'd never heard of.
Next up are PINS, who we criminally haven't seen for eighteen months, and they're a revelation. We've always loved them for their raw fuck you approach and they've kept that yet somehow feel a little more polished. Faith's voice still goes from melting butter one moment to, combined with Lois and Anna's backing vocals, tearing the nearest miscreant's head off the next.
They open with recent singles Bad Thing and All Hail and those two combined with two new songs (Serve The Rich and If I Was) which keep things simple but which hook you in and connect in a way that will leave you with them going round in your head for days. Most of the rest of the set comes from second album Wild Nights with the exception of a beautiful stripped back Luvu4lyf, an early single that still hits the mark despite being slowed down considerably. They finish with the killer duo of Dazed By You and Waiting For The End and leave the packed room wanting more. Hopefully PINS' time will finally come and they'll get the recognition they deserve.
Cherry Glazerr's set is full of wild energy and a strange obsession with arseholes and farting, but the crowd, who've filled the room to the max, seem to forgive them as they hurtle breathlessly through the electronic tinged riot pop of songs from their recent album Apocalipstick. Clem doesn't stand still and the rapturous reception they get tells its own story.
SKIES are on one of the Scruff Of The Neck stages in the Black Cherry Lounge part of Rock City. Black is appropriate as it's almost impossible to see in the room until SKIES light up the place with a joyful end of tour set that gets the assembled crowd moving. The likes of Leave Me, Monday, Hold On and in particular recent single Afterwards have a spiralling energy right at their centre that suck in the unarmed and delight those familiar with these fireballs of drum and guitars. Their energy is so infectious, it's pretty nigh on impossible not to join in as Alie ends up on a monitor smashing merry hell out of a single drum whilst Jericho lets loose behind her. We love SKIES.
We move round the corner to the Rescue Rooms for a fantastic set from All We Are as they prepare for the release of their second album Sunny Hills next week. It's the first time we've seen them and we're immediately impressed by the ferocious energy of their set and we suspect by the reaction so is the rest of the room. Burn It All Out, Animal and Waiting from the new record see Rich, shirtless and stood behind drums drowning in his own sweat, and the icy cool Guro, a grin permanently etched on her face, as she surveys the reaction they get, share lead vocals while Luis lets loose almost oblivious to the other two except that it all gels into a powerful coming together that leaves us wanting to see and hear more.
The room's full for The Slow Readers Club, which nowadays comes as no surprise at all, and, even though they're only given half an hour tonight, it's more than enough to win over the curious and leave the disciples sated and hungry for their next move. "I guess some of you have heard of us before" smiles Aaron at the end of opener Sirens once the deafening READERS chants have subsided. Despite some initial sound issues, the band are so confident, so on a roll and in the zone, that doesn't matter as the crowd replicate his arm clock movements as Start Again reaches its glorious cathartic chorus.
One More Minute might be nearly ten years old, a product of the pre-Readers Omerta, but here it sounds and feels like it's newly born, the chorus a whirlwind of energy that gets unleashed over a sea of outstretched arms. Block Out The Sun possesses anthemic qualities that arena straddling bands would give their last pound to get near to replicate whilst we take up Aaron's bidding to have a dance to the electrobeat of Plant The Seed as much as the space and the heat will allow us.
Forever In Your Debt has every single man in the room wishing they could express their feelings so beautifully and evocatively. Whilst you wouldn't normally associate a song with a massive beat behind it with such tenderness - "know where you go, I follow, you ought to know I'm here for all time, like the sunrise" - it's one of the most romantic declarations of love ever set to music and it's sung back with a gusto that almost drowns Aaron out and he's nearly dragged into us as he stretches to touch the outstretched hand of one of the front row.
Plant The Seed is driven by a razor sharp bass line and stomping drum beat that has both band and crowd doing just that and they finish with an ecstatic I Saw A Ghost, a song from the darkest hour that's turned into a communal exorcism of the demons. As the READERS cries die down, strangers brought together by it stop hugging each other and people shout for more, they'll have to wait a while for that, but The Slow Readers Club aren't going anywhere.
Then it was back to the M1 and a long drive home, music blasting out, voices raised singing along at the power of what music can do for the spirit and the soul. Dot To Dot is a great festival; to catch your favourite bands being given a new audience and for you to be part of that new audience yourself without any of the hassle that goes with big gigs in major cities - other than one of those bearded bespectacled arseholes who wear shit Hawaiian shirts and swan around like they're something that thought popping a balloon might be appropriate in the current climate.
The Slow Readers Club played Sirens, Start Again, One More Minute, Block Out The Sun, Plant The Seed, Forever In Your Debt, Feet On Fire and I Saw A Ghost.
The Slow Readers Club play the main stage at the Isle Of Wight Festival on June 10, support James at Manchester Castlefield Bowl on July 7 before heading to the Victorious Festival in Portsmouth on August 27 before embarking on a winter tour announced this week that includes a date at Manchester's Albert Hall on November 24.
The Slow Readers Club can be found at their website. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
All We Are's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Skies' official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Cherry Glazerr's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
PINS official website can be found here. They are on Facebook and Twitter.
Babe Punch are on Facebook and Twitter.