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Festival Coverage: Y-Not 2015 - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Though Sunday starts much like Saturday, an overcast gloom shrouding the festival site, the clouds soon dissipate and we find ourselves sticky with sun-cream and sweat and in front of the Main Stage early in order to catch Bedforshire's CC Smugglers, a six-piece band who make “original music from nostalgic influences”. They may not be our usual fare, and had we caught them in a different environment our opinions might be somewhat different, but for an opening, their swing/jazz/blues combination makes for a gentle beginning to the final day. That doesn't mean to say that the band lack any energy mind you, they clearly thrive on a sense of traditional band camaraderie, and though they're in no way unique, they're delightfully inoffensive and prove danceable enough to get a few pockets of the early crowd jiving.

Buzz-band Blossoms are next up, and following a hasty half hour taking down the tent we return to the Main Stage with the niggling feeling that reality soon beckons and work will rear its ugly head. Somewhat fitting then, that the band hail from our home-town and serve as an accidental reminder that there is a world outside of the festival bubble. A shame, really. Unfortunately whilst the band are one of Stockport's most-talked about acts, their set leaves something to be desired; elements of lite-psych are interspersed with '60s pop melodies and sleazy guitar lines, and whilst no-one can argue against their clear musicality, no-one can argue about their lack of originality, either.

Over to the Quarry for a final time this year, we catch the new iteration of Solemn Sun. Formerly known as Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, the band gave their sound a make-over last year and have left behind their folky musings in favour of something heavier, darker and a hell of a lot different. Having seen the early iteration of the band support last year's headliner Frank Turner the change is immediately obvious, both in band and crowd. The folk punk of previous releases completely done away with, the set does feel a little flat after several tracks, but one can't begrudge a band for a change in direction and ultimately they'll probably fair better under this guise than their previous.

Back over at the Main Stage, Y-Not faithfuls King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys provide a much larger crowd with the day's second helping of swing, jazz and blues, keeping everyone dancing despite the heat, whilst neo-folk artist Rhodes brings the temperature back down with his chilly and atmospheric compositions.

As evening sets in, so does the heavy heart knowing full well this will be our last festival of the year, fortunately Augustines are on hand to boost spirits if only temporarily, and though their set feels somewhat short (six tracks in 45 minutes) tracks like 'Book of James' and 'Nothing to Lose But Your Head' seem as if they were written purely to be played tonight. Having seen the band previously, on an albeit much smaller stage, my expectations were raised fairly high, but with the band's most recent material seeing them foray in to the realms of stadium rock, it seems only fitting that they've graduated from a small tent at Leeds Festival to the much larger Main Stage here at Y-Not.

Arguably however, it's the double-header of Johnny Marr & Primal Scream that people have been most excited for over the weekend, and their heading of the final evening serves as reminder as to just how much organisers have pulled out all the stops for this year's tenth anniversary celebrations.

The former takes to the stage to huge applause, launching immediately in to 'The Right Thing Right' before the first Smiths cover of the evening appears in the form of 'Panic', and though the vocals might not be as unmistakable as Morrissey's, there's still something about Marr's that suit the jangle of guitar perfectly. Others come in the form of The Crickets' much-covered 'I Fought the Law' and Electronic's 'Getting Away With It', but it's the excellent closing track of 'There is A Light That Never Goes Out' that provides revellers with yet another classic festival moment.

With evening falling and everyone in high spirits, it's of little surprise that Primal Scream, like Basement Jaxx yesterday, perpetuate a party vibe that's difficult to shake off long after we've left. That said, their set is backboned by material from 2000s XTRMNTR, arguably the point the band's narratives became more politicised. Fitting then, given UK's current political climate but it's the likes of 'Rocks' and 'Country Girl' which provide the loudest sing-alongs of the day and perhaps even the festival, giving the most fair-weather fans something to dance to.

It's been eleven years since the first iteration of the festival, and ten years since it was opened to the public, and in that time it's progressed from an overspill of a house-party in to what is probably the UK's best small-to-medium sized festival. It may not have the same size headliners as the likes of Reading and Leeds or Glastonbury, but it has a special kind of allure that makes it feel both boutique and bigger than it actually is. And though you may not be familiar with every band you see, you can guarantee that you'll find at least one band you go home loving.

Until next time Y-Not, providing, of course, you'll still have us.


Festival Coverage: Y-Not 2015 - Saturday

  • Published in Live

With Saturday comes the only threat of bad weather of the entire weekend; a thick fog enveloping the hills that surround the site bringing with it sporadic pockets of light rain. For some, there's no such thing as bad weather however, just the wrong clothes, so with last year's thunderstorms playing at the back of our mind, and making sure we're dressed accordingly, we venture to the Giant Squid stage for some early afternoon technical wizardry in the form of Alright the Captain.

Whether it's the threat of rain bringing people in to the tent, or whether the people of Derbyshire and Staffordshire just love a good bit of musical complexity to ease their hangovers away, the fact remains that the tent is impressively full for the first act of the day. From breakneck to breakdowns, Alright the Captain's refusal to be bound by the constrictions of standard time signatures clearly is a little too much for some of those who have wandered in to escape the light drizzle outside. For those of us who have made a concentrated effort to catch the trio though, we couldn't have been more impressed.

Some Main Stage poppiness next in the form of four-piece Brightonians High Tyde. Whilst the band are clearly musically proficient, it unfortunately comes at the expense of also being musically boring. They're tight but not attention grabbing, and though there's a reasonably large crowd present most are families sprawled on picnic blankets and are clearly here for the day's duration. There are small pockets of excitable teenage girls though, something evidenced by the throng of denim shorts and Hunter wellies that crowd around the entrance to the backstage area when their set finishes. The band might not be to our personal tastes, but they're clearly doing something right!

Back to the Giant Squid now to catch West Yorkshire's Allusondrugs, whose sole intention seems to be to eviscerate any lingering collective headache the audience might possess. Fortunately, a steady stream of festival food and gin seems to have rendered us immune to such issues, and their blend of light grunge, neo-psych and even emo makes for an eclectic but otherwise impressive show; their energy and antics onstage making it clear why there's such a buzz about them at the moment. Front-man Jason Moules might well have earned early comparisons with Kurt Cobain but his complete lack of stoicism this afternoon renders any such comparisons moot; the chemistry between him and his band-mates is palpable and infectious - the crowd turning in to a flailing mass of limbs before even the first track is over.

Following a liquid lunch of some of the best, and most reasonably priced craft ales around, we take our place at The Allotment stage. The smallest of the site's four main stages, The Allotment plays host to some country's best unsigned (and independent) acts around. For us, it's the pull of Manchester tropi-poppers Pale Waves, whose shimmering synth-pop is the perfect antithesis for the Peak District's trademark weather. Deserving of a bigger crowd than is in attendance the band still play a quality set, and though it's their first festival experience they take it their stride.

Remaining at the Allotment, next up is almost home-town heroes TRASH who manage what is arguably the most impressive pull of the weekend. Having just signed to Clue Records (also home to Allusondrugs) the band offer a brand of fuzz-laden slacker rock which, whilst not as heavy as other Clue exports, keeps a constant stream of punters flowing stagewards. By the set's conclusion, we've been forced to the back of the tent in fear of a beer soaking, such is the amount of it sent skywards by lairy crowd members. Not that that's a negative though, not by a long shot, and the sheer buzz that tears through the crowd with each individual track is nothing short of astounding. If there was one band from the weekend to keep both eyes, ears and maybe even your tongue on, should you be that way inclined, then TRASH are definitely it.

From grassroots to glassy-eyed now. Ocean Colour Scene take to the Main Stage in what one would have assumed was a booking to appease anyone old enough to remember TFI Friday on its first iteration, and of those there aren't too many. Thankfully though, what the band actually do is cement themselves as one of brit-pop's most overlooked acts as they tear through a set of classic '90s anthems. The crowning moment of the set, and the first real “festival moment” of the weekend comes in the form of 'The Day We Caught the Train'; anthemic and utterly exceptional, the chorus' hook rings out across the Main Stage and for the several thousand of us in attendance we know we've witnessed something predictable but more importantly, something special.

With an hour to kill before headliners Basement Jaxx, we make the journey to the Quarry stage for the first time that day, in order to catch American's We Are Scientists. Unfortunately though, just about everyone else had the same idea and we're relegated to the tent's periphery for the handful of tracks that we catch. Having seen the band before, we know they're capable of giving a better impression than they do tonight. Giving them the benefit of the doubt however, we put that down to our position outside the tent, and make our way back to the main-stage for the final time that day.

No matter what your opinion on Basement Jaxx, booking them as Saturday night headliners means that the festival's tenth birthday celebrations was always going to be just that, a celebration. Personally there's at least two separate Summer holidays of being unable to escape their music. Hearing the likes of 'Oh My Gosh' and 'Where's Your Head At' pumped out of a festival PA, however more than makes up for those repetitious weeks, and the party vibe they perpetuate seems to defy any age restrictions and make for one of the most emphatic headliners we've seen. Topping it all off with a massive firework display that goes on for the duration of the aforementioned 'Where's Your Head At' surely converting any naysayers.

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