Review: ENTER SHIKARI – Nottingham 2024

2024 is emo resurrection year, you can’t convince me otherwise. With a sold out BMTH tour last month, the sneaky reappearance of the skinny jean, and the Download festival line-up stacked with pop-punk, you can sign me up for a summer of giant fringes and sideways stud belts thanks. Tonight we are in Nottingham at the Motorpoint arena to delve further into the early noughties nostalgia with the iconic Enter Shikari.

Up first on the bill is firecracker Noahfinnce, blasting some garage-band style punk rock into our earholes and yelling “Rishi Sunak can suck my sweaty balls” to the unanimous approval of the crowd… obviously. It’s an infectiously fun set, the hooks are catchy enough to sing along and I’m always going to love an anti-tory rhetoric to be honest.

Laughing, Noah claims “Ok now I’m gonna be the big sweary transgender the Conservatives think I am” before ripping into his ‘Impression of Green Day’. Closing with ‘Life’s A Bit’ is proper punk rock simplicity. The lack of over-production brings me back to teenage gig trips to the local dive, and by the end I’m singing along “moral of the story, I’m a bit of a dickhead”, so I hope to see Noah on some future festival stages.

Up next, Cali rock/politipunk band Fever 333 come no holds barred, with opener “Burn It” ringing in our ears from the off. Despite this being the newest iteration of the band after an all-change in members except for lead singer Jason Aalon Butler last year, they sound crispy clean and like they have come to war.

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Guitarist Brandon Davis and bassist April Kae are a force to be reckoned with, heavy riffs and oh so much bouncing around. Drummer Thomas Pridgen’s beats are hard hitting and provide Butler the perfect backdrop to his insatiable need to move, and jump. Lyrics depicting inequality, capitalism and anti-fascism are screamed across an arena of nodding heads, and there’s something really comforting about the fact that there are still bands out there doing this.

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Activism and music have always gone hand in hand, but Fever 333 are out there unabashedly pushing forward with a flavour reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine and Napalm Death. Above all else, they are undeniably entertaining – how can you not jump around when every member of the band is going absolutely beserk?

Under their Black Panther backdrop, yelling “Free Palestine”, they perform in white boiler-suits covered in black patches, which I now dub ‘Battle-Scrubs’ with the number 333 appearing repeatedly. 333 represents the band’s three core principles of Community, Charity and Change – immediately apparent in their commentary on misogyny in the music world, as Butler calls out “I want to make one thing clear, women should feel safe, respected and honoured in this venue tonight” before dedicating ‘One of Us’ to their “Queen” April.

For my choice ‘$wing’ goes so hard the entire crowd was bouncing, and if you’re a Ferris Beuller fan the lyrics are incredibly accessible, it’s going straight on my playlists. ‘Ready Rock’ sees Butler leap into the crowd only to be lifted by the feet above the throng of grasping hands. The mic is fed by a line of techs across the sea of bodies so he can complete the song before spin-jumping into the fray. Miraculously he makes it back to the stage to apologise for stepping on someone’s bonce “I’m sorry, if you go to the merch stand and prove a nine and a half converse stepped on your head, you can get an item for free” he jokes, before thanking everyone for making them feel welcome and shouting out “POC Punks, WE SEE YOU!”. I think I’ve found my new binge listening band in Fever 333, this is action music.

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As the lights dim once more, there is a palpable electric energy of anticipation in the room. For many attending tonight, this is a long-lived relationship with a band that has spanned 2 decades of the UK rock scene, and I notice a fair number of kids along for the ride with their thirty-something parents as well. Taking to the stage, lit by a single spotlight, lead vocalist Rou Reynolds begins his spoken word soliloquy of ‘System’ like a professor at a lectern, before the lights come up and Enter Shikari absolutely rip into the electronic power of ‘Meltdown’ under screens of scrolling matrix-style code.

There’s something to be said about the sheer performance factor of this band, being able to smoothly direct the flow and energy of the crowd in this way is actually not too common a talent, but they are masters of it. Seamlessly blending techno, dub and trance into metal and punk rock is not the easiest task either, but it gives Shikari an undeniably unique sound that has a cross-genre appeal that I am absolutely enamoured by. With their politically charged lyrics and open defiance of the status quo, it isn’t hard to see why they chose their touring partners in Fever 333 and Noahfinnce – it’s one of the best curated line-ups I’ve seen in a while.

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Screaming “Shall we test out this sound system?” Rou bounces enthusiastically into ‘Anaesthetist’. After a little jazz trumpet interlude, Rou gushes “You know what, I am so fucking grateful to be alive on this stage… I wanna dance with you” before pillar beam lights from the front of the stage pierce the darkness to represent prison bars for ‘Jailbreak’. This time the entire crowd is undulating like the sea and hordes of crowd-surfers take the opportunity to glide over the barrier into the waiting arms of the twenty-strong security team.

Rou then scales a ladder alongside one of the two light towers flanking the stage, only to perch on the edge of it, in the beam of a soft spotlight. Like something out of a movie he reaches his hand into the tower and it is displayed on the screen as a dip into a body of water. Yeah, at this point we kinda know what’s coming as he turns his back towards the ‘water’ but it doesn’t make it any less fun, the circus of him tumbling backwards into the tower and showing up swimming on the screen ignites all those little fires of childhood magic awe.

After his stunt he reappears eating a banana, and the band take a mini break to discuss the useful nutritional properties of said banana, before the hard hitting dubstep intro ‘Sssnakepit’. Laughing “Fucking hell I love this venue! I love Rock City don’t get me wrong, but this is so good” Rou comments on the circle pits which have been swirling all night. As if to up the ante yet again, the band are joined by Jason from Fever 333 for ‘Losing My Grip’ and they both run riot along the gangway slopes to drummer Rob Rolfe.

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Returning atop the other stage tower, Rou sits for a couple of chilled solo songs with his guitar ‘The Pressure’s On’ and ‘Juggernauts’ before heading into the second part of the show, held on a mini platform in the middle of the arena. It’s the kind of production I expect of giant bands at festivals not arena tours, but I absolutely love that they’re as focused on the atmosphere and feel of the show as they are the music.

While the band run through ‘Gap In The Fence’ Rou takes to the crowd seating area for ‘The Sights’ where he makes his very best attempt to make it around the stands. “They told me I couldn’t get round the venue in one song and they were right” he laughs as he makes it to the three quarter mark, but still makes sure to fist bump everyone he can reach on his way back round to the stage.

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‘It Hurts’ into ‘The Dreamers Hotel’ is joyfully bright, another side of Shikari’s multi-faceted musical personality, along with a side of heavy confetti across the crowd, delaying the progress of the little video drones we’ve seen all around the arena tonight from Dirty Dishes Productions – I can’t wait to see that footage though.

For the real encore ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ sees Rou being held back by the pants at the crowds edge, and bassist Chris Batten straight up launching himself into the crowd on his back, still playing. “Christ on a Caribbean cruise” Rou breathlessly says when they make it back out, but he obviously has more to give as he goes hardstyle dancing his way into ‘A Kiss For The Whole World’ to finish up.

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Leaving us with “Thank you so fucking much for having us, we’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time” and thanking the security in the pit for keeping everyone safe tonight, is another testament to the ethos and values of Enter Shikari that are alive and present in their music. The sheer number of crowd-surfers over the barrier tonight tells you the impact this band have on a visceral level, the production and the choreography were all almost cinematically brilliant too, but the discourse of the evening, the music – that’s what stays with you.

Roll on Download festival, because the bar is suddenly very high for everyone else.

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Splendour Festival 2016 Review

The sun was shining hotly and brightly on Nottingham’s favourite festival, Splendour 2016.  Set in the grounds of the stunning Wollaton Park, I was delighted to be attending for the second time and it didn’t disappoint.  There was definitely no shortage of festivals this weekend but with a fantastic line-up and variety of entertainment, Nottingham’s sell out festival was definitely the best place to be.

The site was well set out with plenty of toilets and water points.  The food stalls were spread evenly across the site and offered plenty of choice including vegan and gluten free options.  I enjoyed a gorgeous gluten-free chicken and chorizo paella topped with a delicious salsa and lemon for £7.  Later on I tucked into nachos with guacamole, salsa and cheese for only £3.50!  Drinks tokens could be purchased for £4 each or in multiples.  Tokens were then swapped for alcohol and soft drinks at a choice of 3 bar areas.  Given that there were over 23,000 people attending, we didn’t have to queue once to get a drink.  The bar staff were really friendly although with only beer, cider, JD and coke and wine, there wasn’t much choice.  More spirits would have been welcomed.  Stalls offered a variety of clothes, jewellery and trinkets all reasonably priced.  Fringe entertainment included songs and laughs from Mrs Green; circus shows; activities for youngsters in the Kids’ Zone, silent disco and Magician, Daniel Dore.  It was clear that Splendour has a great family atmosphere and well catered for all age groups.

Headlining the main stage was Grammy award winner, Jess Glynne.  After dropping out of Splendour last year due to illness, her appearance was hotly awaited.  She opened up with ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself’ which instantly got the crowd dancing!  She looked stunning in a two piece gold outfit and I loved the focus that she gave to the music and the audience rather than dance moves and outfit changes.  She followed up with hit after hit; ‘Rather be,’ ‘No rights no wrongs,’ ‘Gave me something,’ ‘Not letting go,’ and ‘It ain’t right.’  She then did a beautiful acoustic version of ‘My love’ which she dedicated to her dad who is from Nottingham, which the crowd loved.  She engaged with the crowd and asked everyone to shine the torch on their phone which created a beautiful sea of light as far as the eyes could see.  She followed up with hits such as ‘Home’ and ‘Real love’ and then did a cover version of Chaka Chan’s ‘I feel for you’ where she pulled off some funky dance moves with her backing singers.  For the encore she sang ‘Right here’ and her number one track ‘Hold my hand.’  The crowd went crazy singing and dancing and it was a perfect end to a fantastic headlining artist.  Jess Glynne did Nottingham proud!

Over on the Confetti Stage, a large crowd gathered for the headlining act, The Darkness.  Donning a flamboyant purple one-piece glam-rock-esque cat suit, Justin Hawkins thrusted himself into their opening track ‘Black shuck.’  The charismatic front man belted out ‘Growing on me’ ‘Love is only a feeling’ and their original glam rock track ‘I believe in a thing called love.’  Justin entertained the crowd with his own brand of sweary banter adding to an electric atmosphere.

Set list was

Black Shuck

Growing on me

Givin’ up

One way ticket

Love is only a feeling


Get your hands off my woman

Stuck in a rut

I believe in a thing called love

Love on the rocks with no ice

Scottish rockers, The Fratellis,  kicked off with ‘Henrietta’ and finished with a crowd-rocking ‘Chelsea Dagger.’  Earlier in the day veteran Irish punk rockers, Stiff Little Fingers, played a fantastic set to a large crowd.  Legendary tracks ‘At the edge, ‘Tin soldiers’ and ‘Gotta gettaway’ got the crowd rocking.

UB40 got a warm response with one reveller shouting ‘UBeee, UBeee, UBeee!!’ ‘You gotta love UB!’ she tells me.  The crowd are dancing and singing to the glorious reggae tunes of ‘Cherry Oh Baby’ and ‘Red Red Wine.’

The Human League put on an impressive show opening with ‘Mirror Man,’ and ‘Electric Dreams’ is slickly played into ‘Don’t You Want Me’ for the finale.

Over on the acoustic stage, Jonny Olley kicked the day off, with acts like Josh Wheatley, Bru-C and Brad Dear performing throughout the day.

With its eclectic mix of artists and bands, there is sure to be something for every age group at Splendour Festival which makes it the perfect family day out.   I cannot wait for next year! Roll on Splendour 2017!

No Tomorrow Festival Review 2015

Following a successful first year, No Tomorrow festival returned to Nottingham for a two-day spectacle, showcasing some of the biggest names in EDM and other chart-topping artists such as John Newman and Jessie Ware.

Not your typical large-scale music festival with tens of thousands of party-goers, No Tomorrow was comparatively much smaller; but this made the experience thoroughly more enjoyable.

With the usually unreliable British weather holding up throughout the course of the weekend, punters were able to lie on the grass and soak up the rays whilst listening to their favourite artists. Three well-staffed bars also ensured revellers did not wait long for drinks in the summer heat.

Dominating the park was the main stage which featured a brightly coloured ‘No Tomorrow’ banner with the Stealth stage occupying a gigantic tent in a sub-section of the park.

Stealth was not to be out done by its larger counterpart. A set list consisting of Garage and House well-known names such as DJ EZ, Hannah Wants and Gorgon City arguably made it the highlight of the festival.

Saturday's bill did not disappoint, Hannah Wants well and truly got the proceedings of the weekend underway and set the tone for what was to come with her one and a half hour set.

Fans packed the Stealth stage for DJ EZ and despite technical sound issues he still managed to get the crowd buzzing with a trademark mix of old school Garage anthems, rounding off what was a hugely successful first day.

Sunday built on the success of the previous day, with performances from Justin Martin on Stealth stage and Milky Chance on the main stage meaning that wherever you were there was music worth listening to.

Milky Chance’s hit ‘Stolen Dance’ was met with a great reception as fans joined in singing along with the feel good music. Whilst over on Stealth stage, Gorgon City followed Justin Martin and carried on the upbeat vibe with some well-known House tunes as the sun slowly slipped behind the clouds.

Perhaps the most notable performance of the entire weekend was My Nu Leng who closed the Stealth stage with a combination of Deep House, Grime and Rap beats working to get the crowd hyped, and ending the festival in style.

Leaving the festival to John Newman’s popular anthem ‘Love Me Again’ echoing from the main stage, party-goers were able to travel back to the city centre from the gates of Woollaton Park for £2 thanks to festival organisers.

Overall a perfect way to start the summer, a well-balanced mixture of intense and laid-back music combining to create a memorable weekend, definitely a festival SFG would recommend for the future.


Photos by Mike Ruane

Everywhere Festival 2014 Review

Like Christmas for electronic music lovers, dollop's sold-out Everywhere Festival returned for its biggest Nottingham event, offering an eclectic range of 53 acts across six city venues.

Tourist's blend of building house beats on Together and the added soulful vocals of Lianne La Havas on Patterns drew a large crowd to Stealth early on. Later, Jamie xx-like percussion is added to the pitch-shifted vocals of Haim's The Wire.

Over in the Rescue Rooms, an increasing crowd awaits hotly-tipped producer Lxury. Playing Disclosure co-produced, J.A.W.S, the punchy synths and house beats flow before The Mechanism – Disclosure's house collaboration with Friend Within.

It's not all just bass and flashing lights, as the upstairs Red Room holds a secret cinema showing classic cult films.

Meanwhile in Stealth, American future-R&B singer, Kelela, who later joins Hudson Mohawke onstage during his set, showcases her effortless vocals which skitter over forward-thinking bassy trap beats in Bank Head and Enemy. Dressed in a black jumpsuit,she glides across the front of the stage during Floor Show and Go All Night before appreciatively thanking the crowd and ending with blog-favorite track, Cut For Me.

Back in Rescue Rooms, chilled electronica comes in the form of Bondax-esque duo, Snakehips, who impress early on with an edit of Amerie's, 2005 hit, One Thing before their own funky production, On My Own. Eponymous visuals flash throughout their breezy remix of The Weeknd's Wanderlust before the energetic trap beats of Make It.

Over in Rock City, the Skreamizm party is in full swing, with Artwork and Skream, respectively dropping techno and house tracks including a remix of Crystal Waters' classic Gypsy Woman before Skream follows with a remix of Fatboy Slim's Song For Shelter.

Meanwhile, Birmingham producer Hannah Wants bought her bassy house tracks, like, Dappy and Rudeboy, to a full Walkabout crowd.

House legend Mark Kinchen consistently impresses with a two-hour set of back-to-back remixes. He opens strongly by playing his remix of My Head Is A Jungle which is later followed by his edit of Rudimental's, Powerless, with Becky Hills' vocals tweaked to fit the house beat. Remixes of Paloma Faith and Duke Dumont follow suit, before Aluna Francis' vocals on White Noise are mixed seemlessly into his number one hit, Look Right Through.

Paul Woolford closes Rock City, taking the packed crowd on a journey of techno and piano-house, including late 5am highlight, Erotic Discourse.

With London counterpart, Elsewhere Festival, also held over the weekend, dollop's parties are continuing to attract the biggest names in the world of electronic music.

A series of ten events marking dollop's tenth birthday are currently taking place.

As seen originally online on the Nottingham Post website:

Peace, The Midnight Beast, Real Estate and Courtney Barnett all announced for Dot to Dot Festival 2014

The first wave of announcements for citywide music extravaganza Dot to Dot Festival have been made, and include inde-rock headliners Peace, parody group The Midnight Beast and Aussie singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett.

In addition are surf rockers Real Estate, Paris' very own We Were Evergreen, along with another exciting Brit group Wolf Alice. Grunge rockers Darlia will be another highlight, as will the soulful singing of Kyla La Grange,who adds yet another festival appearance to her schedule. Fyfe, Norma Jean Martine and Young Kato make up the best of the rest.

Peace's return to the festival will be of particular interest to Dot to Dot veterans, as their 2012 performance set them on the way to the stardom they're currently acheiving. Last year's debut release 'In Love', saw them garnered with praise from the likes of the NME, and they used summer festival appearances and a winter UK tour to further showcase their abilities. Now in 2014, they're back, with album number two being recorded as we speak!

With a couple of TV series' and over 64 million YouTube views under their belts, Midnight Beast will also be taking to the Dot to Dot stage, adding a bit of humour to proceedings. Look out for Courtney Barnett too, a frank and honest songwriter who isn't afraid to sing what she feels, the Australian is gaining a lot of attention.

Dot to Dot 2014 takes place over three consecutive days in Manchester on Friday, May 23, Bristol, Saturday May 24, before ending in Nottingham on Sunday, May 25, at various venues scattered throughout the city, with over 14 hours of music to keep punters entertained.

The likes of the XX, Mumford & Sons, Florence + the Machine and Foals have all featured at past festivals, which aim to showcase the talent of the future in initimate venues for bargain prices.

With tickets set at a bargain £20 (plus £2 booking fees), the Best Metropolitan Festival of 2013, as handed out by the UK Festival Awards, looks to be yet another success in its ninth year of running.

Full Line-Up: 

Peace will headline, plus The Midnight Beast, Real Estate, We Were Evergreen, Wolf Alice, Courtney Barnett, Fyfe, Darlia, Kyla La Grange, Barbarossa, Betty Who, Caveman, Frank Hamilton, Norma Jean Martine, Gavin James, George Barnett, Horse Thief, Lapland, Laura Welsh, LSA, Marika Hackman, Mt Royal, Sean McGowan, Sivu, St Paul and The Broken Bones, Sundara Karma, We The Wild, Wonder Villains, and Young Kato, with more to be announced.

Dot To Dot Festival 2011 – Nottingham

Nottingham was the second stop on the Dot To Dot agenda, and they took over the city's various venues to showcase some briliant acts.
Nottingham is a vibrant city with loads of bars and venues. The festival was made up of 4 venues all with a range of bands to watch.
The day started with us getting our wristbands from the Dot To Dot tent. The wristbands allow you to hop from venue to venue. The bands didn’t start till 1 so it’s a nice time to go exploring.

AlpinesThe first band we did go see was the Alpines from South London. You were quickly taken in by their unique sound and mesmerizing presence on stage. The band had a unique indie sound. The lead singer had an amazing voice that you couldn’t tier of listening to. They played in the Rock City venue which was the main venue for the festival. It also had a basement room were smaller bands played. The Rock City’s main room was large with 3 bars and a balcony view point. Even though it was large, when the bands got in full swing it filled up very quickly.

The next venue was the Rescue Rooms, and as said on a sign approaching the venue it’s up for NME Best Small Venue!. Inside the tiny venue was a long bar and two outside drinking areas. The atmosphere was amazing with it being such a small venue. The band we went to see are called Wolf Gang I had never heard of them before but they had a very big backing from the crowd. Everyone was packed into the venue like sardines it was so busy people were lined up outside. We got a little spot on the balcony were we could just about see. They were worth elbowing through the crowd to get a glimpse of. With their stylish indie sound and the lead singers punching vocals leaving me amazed that I hadn’t heard of them sooner. You could understand why Wolf Gang played in Rescue Rooms as it made them sound vibrant and in your face!


After the aftermath of pushing my way out of the Rescue Room’s venue I quickly made my way back down to Rock City to catch Swimming. As we got in to Talbot Street which was closed off for the festival. There were stalls and bars outside, they were also giving away free Kopparberg tasters that seemed to go down well with the festival goers.

Inside Rock City it was already very busy. We wormed our way through to a good spot, were we got to see the last few songs of Swimming, a 5 piece band from Nottingham. It was great to see a band playing in their home town. They lit up the town with brash electronica music like warp techno. This was mixed in with guitars and the striking voice of the lead singer. Swimming are a fantastic group of guys with great song writing skills, which they write from events that have happened in their own life’s.  

Ed Sheeran

After it had all calmed down waited patiently for the critically acclaimed Ed Sheeran. The excitement in the venue grew it was the busiest I had seen it all day. After the 30 minutes we waited Ed Sheeran made his way to the stage with his guitar and the determination to please the waiting crowd. Ed layers the sounds from the guitar and his voice by recording them and playing the sounds back adding the vocals, when all combined together gives the feeling of an entire band from just one person and his guitar. Ed Sheeran is just 20 years old, but his style of music flirts between dubstep to hip hop, and sometimes just with his outstanding voice and guitar. He sung his hits like City and A Team which the entire crowd got behind and sang with him. He has a lot of talent and writes songs with a lot of passion which people can relate to.

The Naked and FamousAfter all the fuss and excitement of Ed Sheeran we stayed in the main venue to watch The Naked and Famous, a band tipped to be big this year. The band is from New Zealand and the calming vocals of the lead singer Alisa Xayalith give the band some personality mixing in with the guitarist. It has an electro pop sound which gives the band’s music a lot of depth. The crowd loved this band and knew there music well.

My highlight of the festival has to be The Naked and Famous, a great band with fantastic stage presence.

Overall an awesome festival day out and would recommend to anyone who enjoys watching bands in great venues.