Here at Far Out we’ve just about got over our weekend at Y Not Festival and we’re not exaggerating when we say it was non-stop from start to finish, here’s what we thought…
Despite it falling on probably the only weekend of rain we’ve had for about eight weeks, it did not dampen the spirits or tame the debauchery of dedicated festival revellers.
After arriving on site on Thursday, the first thing we noticed was that although the site looked practically identical to previous years, there was nearly double the amount of music to check out, with many of the bars and smaller venues now boasting their own full weekend line up.
With only The Giant Squid Stage open on Thursday though, there was plenty of time to take in the campsite atmosphere, with spots in the the Rock and Roll campsite (famous for its late night parties – where we chose to pitch up) being snapped up quickly.
We managed to catch Goldie Lookin Chain ‘get the Y Not party started’ and regardless of your opinion of their hip-hop satire, New Port’s finest were absolutely on form doing a stellar job of getting the jam-packed tent more than excited about the hedonism the festival ahead had in store, name dropping an array of ‘festival past times’ probably not suitable for a mention in this article.
After that ruckus it felt like a good time to check out the Watch Tower bar, where we were faced with an entire wall of locally brewed ciders and ales, it’s at this point we have to be honest and admit we have no recollection of which ones we actually tried – leading us to conclude they were definitely adequate in strength.
By the time we had risen on Friday the festival was well and truly in full swing, the campsite had filled up and screens concealing the previously unopened parts of the festival had been stripped back revealing what can only be described as some mind blowing and psychedelic scenery, clearly no expense spared from the organisers.
Apart from the main arena, the site was divided into three main districts: Sgt. Peppers Meadows, the Octopus’ Garden and Revolution Green all of which had the makings to absorb and memorise, with fire-pits, fairground rides and street (or field) performers all day and night.
But it was the Main Stage we had our eyes on first of all to check out B-towners Superfood, and they did not disappoint. Having just released their latest single Right On Satellite and in the middle of a huge run of summer shows, Superfood had all the momentum behind them to put on an absolute belter, with their growing reputation enough to encourage festival goers to brave the rain and really get stuck in. Highlights included Right On Satellite, Bubbles and the Blur-esque sound of TV.
There was plenty to induce a bit of nostalgia on the Friday night and we couldn’t resist popping our heads into the Quarry to check out Reel Big Fish, who despite having not released anything for over two years, still pulled in a crowd that was spilling out of the tent.
Next it was on to catch Mr Party himself Andrew WK, while he lacked no amount of energy throwing himself around the stage and his keyboard skills were very impressive, the lack of ANY musicians on stage with him left us asking exactly what sort of show we were watching.
With literally so much going on after the bands finished we conceded to the fact we weren’t going to be able to experience it all. The (not very) ‘secret stage’ was teased maybe a little too aggressively prior to the festival meaning it was more like ‘the latest hipster hand out’ than an ‘edgy secret rave’ as perhaps intended – with queues the entire weekend, we didn’t even make it inside.
Instead we opted for Sheffield’s Mr Meerkat in the Bassweight tent for some late night jungle dubs – a good choice.
With the rain really playing havoc with our weekend on Saturday, we decided to take refuge in the Saloon – a wooden Wild West bar with swinging cowboy doors. Back for the second year, but this time with an entire three days worth of live music lined up from country and western to 50’s rock n roll.
We were just in time to catch the cool bluesy vibes of Ryan Thomas followed by some folkly numbers from Thom Byles.
Saturday afternoon bought about a conflict of interest, Far Out favourites the Wytches were due to rock the Giant Squid Stage with indie crooners Swim Deep on the Main Stage.
With compromise the key, we caught the first half of the Wytches – as they absolutely blew the roof off the Squid. If you didn’t think they could sound any rawer than their recordings check them out live(!). Y Notters headbanged their way through the surf-psych outfit’s set with Burn Out The Bruise and Wire Frame Mattress sounding particularly brutal.
It was a short run to back to the Main Stage just in time to catch Swim Deep get stuck into King City. The Birmingham shoegazers the perfect accompaniment to the prevailing sun as it started to break (briefly).
Something a bit harder to get our heads round followed next on the Main Stage. Shed Seven: one of those bands that arguably rode the Brit-pop wave, created by the catastrophic splash caused by Blur and Oasis in the early 90s.
They had a turbulent, but decorated career (racking up 15 UK top 40s), but constant disagreement with their labels diluted the bands creative output.
During their short time in the limelight however they gathered a disciple like following, literally THOUSANDS of which appeared to have made this pilgrimage to Derbyshire for the weekend.
Their set was an audacious and shameless display of the bands greatest hits, with Rick Witter putting on one the most entertaining, energetic and well received performances of the weekend, wasting no time getting down into the crowd to let his keenest superfans have a go on the mic and thrash out the chorus to Getting Better.
It was back to the Saloon to see off Saturday night, but by this time it was a very different place. The aptly named DJ Sheriff had taken to the stage – delivering foot stomping rock n roll classics. In true Wild West fashion people were swinging from the rafters and dancing on the tables, as you can imagine the state we were in made this a very surreal but none the less enjoyable party.
On to Sunday and with the end of the festival fast approaching the sun finally decides to show up and stick around. In an attempt to shift the after effects of too much cowboy rum from the night before with an early morning wander, we stumbled across the evening headliner Frank Turner publicly sound checking and as people realised what was happening, the arena started to fill up.
With the sun shining it seemed like the perfect opportunity to position ourselves in front of the Main Stage, get the beers in and take in what it had to offer – with the notable early afternoon highlight being Leeds outfit Menace Beach.
Blackpool rockers Darlia were another band on our list of ones to watch and clearly we weren’t the only ones. We arrived at a jam-packed Quarry Stage just as the band who’ve been dubbed as part of the ‘new rock revolution’ took to the stage.
Disappointingly the first few songs sounded a bit lacklustre and refined compared to what we had come to expect from their recordings, with the band delivering a more toned down version of the usually abrupt Candyman.
Whatever it was affecting them was swiftly remedied though and the band delivered a more than convincing rendition of the Dear Diary and set closure Queen Of Hearts reminded us exactly why we were there.
With Y Not dedicating a lot of resource to unsigned music including an entire stage: The Allotment, it seems only right we mention the absolute gem we came across here. The Huskies are a four-piece from Nottingham with an indie-beach rock sound. Their catchy riffs and easy on the ear melodies would not have sounded out of place in an early afternoon Main Stage slot – to perfectly accompany the sunshine.
It was an electric set from De La Soul that brought our Sunday evening to an end. It was an absolute masterclass in hip-hop, brought about by some of the true pioneers of the genre – that made Dizzee Rascal (the night before) sound like he’d turned up for work experience.
A Sunday night support slot to Frank Turner is arguably not going to pull in the East-Coast outfit’s optimal audience however the entire arena wasted no time in showing their appreciation – the entire crowd with their arms in the air throughout, hanging off every word Trugoy and Posdnuos had to say.
Claiming to be ‘Small, Fresh and Loud’ Y Not Festival is exactly what it says on the tin. This festival is so full of life and character with the effort and detail that goes into all the extras (not just the music) obvious in every sense.
The line-up has something for everyone – and whilst that can sometimes make a festival bland it is certainly not the case here. While the headliners are sure to pull in the masses, Y Not has never failed to secure the cream of up and coming break through artists whilst also supporting the unsigned scene. We actually needed another few days there to get to see everyone we wanted to. Y Not has undoubtedly out done itself yet again; we can’t wait to see what next year has in store.
Will De Nardo