Preview: Nottstopping Festival

In light of the obligatory pause placed on the entirety of live music, an inevitable hopelessness has descended over the ponchos, tents and portable phone chargers reserved only for the unique chaos that is festival season; mud, music and sunburn included. Nottingham’s creative community consisting of, among others, Hockley Hustle, Arts Festival and the Circle of Light Project have come together to compose an unprecedented weekend of virtual festival-going. The Nottstopping Festival (23rd-24th May) is a showcase weekend for Nottingham’s finest talent in music, acting, design, dance, comedy; the list goes on and though the expected mud and sunburn is really down to an individual willingness to turn your garden into a festival campsite, here’s a closer look at the music on offer across both days.

The Bodega: In Conversation with Do Nothing (Saturday 3:00pm)

One of the most popular bars and music venues in the city, and our close friends The Bodega, who have been sorely missed in recent months, will be filling the void of live music with an in-depth interview with one of Nottingham’s finest acts, Do Nothing. Following the release of their Zero Dollar Bill EP, the art-rock quartet have established themselves as one of the biggest rising bands in the country. Catch guitarist Kasper Sandstrøm, Maddy Chamberlain (Bodega Promotions / Phlexx Records) and Sam Keirl (Bodega Promotions) battle Zoom delays to talk about the band and lockdown, as well as some Bodega chat too at 3:00pm on Saturday.

Photo credit Adrian Vitelleschi-Cook

Rough Trade Stage (Saturday)

Undeniably familiar with some of the best acts Nottingham has to offer, Rough Trade will be hosting a stage exclusively reserved for the local scene’s biggest names. Pre-recorded performances from the following artists will be broadcast throughout the day, spanning across genres from pop to indie-rock and providing a brief glimpse into the city’s plentiful variety of musical talent.

Kicking proceedings off at 2:00pm is bedroom-produced, nostalgia-inducing pop singer-songwriter BLLE, a rising star in Nottingham and further afield, and recent FOCUS feature artist, who has sparked comparisons to Dua Lipa and Banks amongst others. Hit singles such as Don’t be Surprised and Calling Me are likely to make an appearance on her virtual setlist, as well as a new unreleased offering potentially. Indie-pop singer-songwriter Katie Cooper and Anwyn Williams follow at 3:00pm and 3:30pm respectively, before four-piece grunge-soaked outfit Velvet Blush take to the stream at 4:00pm. Kagoule’s Cai Burns will follow before local icon George Gadd, widely praised for his unique combination of profound lyricism and infectious melodies like in Shake a Ghost, performs at 4:30pm. Mic favourite Laurie Illingworth, one of the city’s most eagerly-anticipated artists, will showcase a selection of touching piano-based material at 5:00pm before startling BBC 6 Music-supported alternative-pop singer-songwriter Camille Christel’s set at 5:30pm. Headlining Saturday’s bill will be low-fi psychedelic rock outfit and one of the city’s most exciting bands Sancho Panza, fresh from their startling sold-out Bodega show. Expect hit tracks Rearrange the Diamonds and The 2200 Year Event to make the setlist, which starts at 6:00pm.

Rough Trade Stage (Sunday)

The prominent Nottingham music body will continue to showcase some of the city’s biggest names on Sunday, which features a headline set from Lacey at 5:30pm, whilst Cinema Gold, Felix M-B and Mid November also play. A hugely popular figure in Nottingham, Mollie Ralph’s 3:00pm show will demonstrate the arresting vocals that captivate her live show, whilst alternative-pop quartet Vega Bay, an distinctly recognisable band in the Nottingham music scene will perform earlier at 2:30pm. Soft indie-rock singer-songwriter Alice Robbins, a growing name across the country, finds herself returning to the city she was raised in, her set at 3:30pm promising to be an enticing viewing experience. Equally enticing are five-piece woozy-psych rockers Soft Girls & Boys Club, who fresh from a Rock City Main Stage slot at 2019’s Dot to Dot Festival, alongside major support slots for FEET at Bodega, are primed and ready with new material to showcase on Sunday.

BBC Introducing East Midlands (Sunday 3:00-6:30pm)

The radio show normally airing every Saturday night as a part of BBC Radio Nottingham’s ‘The Beat’ will be broadcasting performances from huge Nottingham names. Do Nothing, George Gadd, Holly Fallon and Mollie Ralph are all scheduled to play this stage. Expect to see these Nottingham giants performing a selection of their widely acclaimed tracks as well as a few unreleased singles. The BBC Introducing stage will host exclusively live performances, hoping to inject some sort of festival familiarity to the weekend’s proceedings.

Leftlion Sofa Sessions (Saturday and Sunday)

Fellow Nottingham-based media outlet, Leftlion, will be continuing to support the local music scene by hosting a series of interactive interviews and performances with the likes of Anglo-American alternative duo, Rue Royale (Saturday, 8:00-9:00pm) and heartfelt, attitude-drenched vocalist, GEORGIE (Sunday, 8:00-9:00pm).

I’m Not From London Stage (Saturday and Sunday)

The Nottingham-based record label and promoter has compiled a catalogue of 30-second songs from local artists, big and small, to be broadcast and heard for the first time over the course of the weekend. In addition to supporting key workers through their participation in this weekend’s festival, the label are creating a music video which combines clips of key workers, Nottingham-based artists and industry faces in an effort to portray the strength and determination to be found in unity, particularly when such unity is achieved through music. This particular stage sends out a weekend-long thank you note to everyone in the local community for their efforts in maintaining this sense of collective strength in such difficult and unprecedented times.

From left to right: BLLE, George Gadd and Reflektor are all making virtual appearances across the weekend

Beat the Streets Stage (Sunday 3:00pm)

A charitable organisation heavily involved with overcoming homelessness in Nottingham, Beat the Streets will be broadcasting highlights from their previous music festivals and interviews, looking to inject a certain nostalgia into the weekend’s performances. This is a stage for reminiscing and for returning to more familiar festival experiences.

Dot to Dot Stage (Saturday and Sunday)

Dot to Dot is a beloved festival for the music community, renowned for its showcasing of upcoming talent. Having previously welcomed artists such as Slaves, Wolf Alice and Rag’ n’ Bone Man to its stage, the festival will be streaming a collection of their best moments over the years. Expect to see a lot of younger and less famous versions of familiar faces.

Metronome (Saturday and Sunday)

Perhaps the biggest stage of the weekend, the Nottingham performance space will be broadcasting pre-recorded performances from a mixture of local and international artists, with each hour of the schedule featuring a vast array of names and genres.

  • Saturday 3:00-4:00pm, featuring performances from Georgie, Jacob Fowler, Rob Green, Chai 6ix, Alfie Sharp, Soft Girls and Boys Club and Camille Christel

  • Saturday 4:00-5:00pm, featuring performances from Nactus Kunan, BRIA, Deco, Vega Bay and Mollie Ralph

  • Saturday 5:00-6:00pm, featuring performances from Reflekter, Arcades and Cucumaras

  • Saturday 6:00-7:00pm, featuring performances from TVAM, M-Flute and Otis Mensah

  • Saturday 7:00-8:00pm, featuring performances from Manu Delago, Snapped Ankles, The Invisible Orchestra and Melt Yourself Down

  • Saturday 8:00-9:00pm, featuring performances from Simone Sims, Longo and Red Pig Flower

  • Sunday 5:00-6:00pm, featuring performances from, Haiku Salut, Holly Redford Jones, Nactus Kunan and Beth Rowley

All in all, this weekend is about connection. With the opportunity to donate to local charities who are supporting the most vulnerable people in the community both locally and outside of Nottingham, it has never been more enjoyable to contribute to a much-needed sense of unified strength. The festival is an important opportunity for local talent and for their listeners to return to that beloved sense of community found in Nottingham’s music scene. We’ll see you there.

Nottstopping Festival is a Bank Holiday Extravaganza of entertainment. Celebrating and connecting Nottinghamshire whilst fundraising to provide gifts, treats and experiences for Frontline Workers. For more information and for full listings, please visit To support the festival and its causes, donate here.