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Festival Coverage: Y-Not Festival 2018

  • Published in Live

With last year’s festival leaving little more than a bad taste in the mouths of returning regulars and festival virgins, organisers of this year’s Y-Not Festival needed to not only pull out all the stops in order to make it memorable, but address at the litany of issues that surrounded last year’s ill-fated iteration.

Though many people assumed, and espoused, that 2017 was the final nail in the festival’s coffin, either for them personally, or for the event as a whole, organisers promised profusely in the lead up to this year’s festival that last year’s shitshow wasn’t going to repeat itself.

Thankfully, much of those promises came to fruition, and with the exception of bouts of bad weather that evoked strong feels of déjà vu, 2018 was, by and large, a success.

Even seconds after arriving at the festival site, it’s clear that improvements have been made. Temporary roads/walkways have been installed across the drop-off point, and security seem thorough but friendly – a welcome change from last year’s arrogance and indifference.

Once inside, the first noticeable change is just how different the layout is to previous years. Gone are the separate areas that provided their own personalities but stymied the festivals geographic flow. Instead the main stage sits at the bottom of a hill, in the centre of the arena, with other stages, bars and the usual festival miscellany scattered around the outside.  

The result is a festival that flows much better and has the added advantage of a gentle slope providing good visibility towards the Main Stage, often regardless of where you’re stood. The acoustics also carry far better than previous years, something we found out on Thursday Night as Razorlight took to the Main Stage to entertain those of us eager to kickstart the weekend early.

Friday is where the change in atmosphere, at least compared to last year, is most noticeable. Spirits are both high and flowing from the outset. And where last year’s atmosphere harboured an edge that was difficult to put your finger on, this year feels more in keeping with the “small, fresh and loud” tagline of previous years.

Exacerbated by the heat, it doesn’t take long for true festival merriment to take hold, as the beers start to kick in and Nottingham’s Vega Bay take to the quarry stage. With a set of easy going indie-pop that perfectly matches the weather, it’s the ideal way of start proceedings.

Elsewhere across the weekend, the likes of The Lancashire Hotpots, Everly Pregnant Brothers and Beans On Toast return for their annual appearances, amusing and entertaining crowds across Friday and Saturday respectively. And headline appearances from The Libertines, who start shaky but end on a massive high, and Catfish And The Bottlemen prove that indie is still alive and kicking, even if it is starting to go grey.

Of course, Y-Not’s always been about offering a platform for up and coming bands, with stages like The Allotment devoted to just that. This year is no different. And bands on the cusp of breaking such as DECO, No Hot Ashes and Sheafs all proving that while indie royalty might be greying, they’ll always be fresh-faced new blood jostling for their crown.

It wouldn’t be Y-Not, nor would it be the Peak District, without howling wind and sideways rain, and Saturday and Sunday definitely don’t disappoint. And though tents, tshirts, jeans and just about everything else might be dampened, spirits certainly aren’t. And while Y-Not may not feel like the same convivial festival it once was, it’s still family-friendly and good natured, and most importantly, more than made amends for the year before. 


Festival Coverage: Y-Not 2015 - Friday

  • Published in Live

With Friday morning comes the inevitable sound of a main-stage sound-check, the repetitious “One-Two, One-Two” and the seemingly perpetual thud of a bass drum being mic-ed up. In normal circumstances this would be a horrific way to the start the day, but with the beating sun and the prospect of a whole day of class acts proving too much to resist, we start the day early with questionable bacon and less questionable beers.

Honeyblood are the first band to really pique our interest that day, and like the hundreds of punters who seem to flock towards the main-stage thanks to the band's biting indie-pop crunch. Treating us to a handful of new tracks ('Love Is A Disease', 'Babes Never Die') as well as fan favourites, the Scottish duo manage an impressive set despite the early hour. Next up, The Lancashire Hotpots provide a burgeoning crowd with a handful of tracks ode to their love of Lancashire and its culture. With a different take on the four (now five) elements , 'Bitter, Cider, Lager, Ale, Stout' enjoys a raucous singalong, whilst their sense of humour runs riot through tracks such as 'Chippy Tea' and their breakout single 'He Turned Emo' keeping things suitably silly.

Following a falafel fuelled lunch, we return to the main-stage to catch flavour of the moment, Slaves who unfortunately seem a little dwarfed by the size of the stage. That said however, their pull is evident, and those young enough to have shaken off last night's hangovers proceed to (hopefully metaphorically) lose their shit. In true Slaves' style, the band wax lyrical about biscuits and manta-rays, and though they fall short of our personal expectations, something possibly to do with the open-air setting, several people over the weekend claim it to be a definite highlight.

If Slaves fell slightly short of expectations, Reverend and the Makers don't even attempt the jump. Perhaps more suited to a Thursday slot, rather than mid-evening on a Friday, their sound is, at best, muddy, and singer Jon McClure's vocals are to be frank, terrible. Those closer to the stage are fortunately spared the worst of it, though for anyone stood (or sat as the case may be) behind the sound-desk, it really is painful. Whilst we always try and find at least something positive in a set, it's made difficult by a band who seem only to be going through the motions, clinging on to the popularity garnered from their early singles.

Luckily however, Reverend and the Makers are the only band of the entire weekend which warrant such animosity, so put-out but not perturbed, we return to the tent to restock on the festival necessities before heading out once again to The Quarry Stage to catch Gainsville's ska-punk royalty, Less Than Jake. With an undeniable punk energy that makes up for the sound-quality outside of the tent, the band tear through a host of their hits including 'Nervous in the Alley' and 'The Science of Selling Yourself Short'. Having seen the band on numerous occasions, they do seem to benefit more from playing inside a venue, but that shouldn't detract from one of the most energetic performances of the weekend, and for those that opt not to see Snoop Dogg on the main-stage, they provide a fantastic close to the first full day. With the site being as small as it is however, we manage to catch half of Less Than Jake's set, before making the pilgrimage to the main-stage to pray at Snoop's alter.

Though arriving 15 minutes late, and the fact he almost seems to be reading from an auto-cue in between tracks,(“Matlock, UK!”) it's the kind of once-in-a-lifetime set that only a festival can offer. Complete with a duo of dancers who are ultimately responsible for a hundred collective sexual awakenings from the pre-pubescent males in attendance, his set is built around a handful of his own material, tributes to fallen friends Tupac and Biggie Smalls, as well as a number of cheesy yet resplendent covers. It matters not that he seems to be miming for a good portion of the set, and when the opening of 'Gin 'n' Juice' pounds out of the PA, every spliff being smoked is lifted high in to the air. Chances are we'll never get to see Snoop again, chances are we wouldn't if we were given the opportunity, but the fact remains that his set for all its foibles, will go down as one of the weekend's most memorable.

Clearly too old for the post-headliner shenanigans that the festival has to offer, we make our way back to the tent for another early(ish) night, safe in the knowledge that even though much gin has been drank, we're likely to feel far sharper than those who flocked to the bass-heavy Octopuses Garden for some late-night skanking.

You can read our review of Thursday evening here.

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