We attended the ‘organised chaos’ of Y Not Festival so you didn’t have to
Thousands of festival goers had festivities cut short over the weekend, as Y Not officials were forced to pull the plug on the last day of the event, due to ‘unsafe weather conditions’, following a shit show of cancelled acts, changes to set times and general poor organisation, seeing Y Not Festival sensationally undo their stellar work of the last ten years, that had turned this Derbyshire event from quaint little festy, in to what was becoming a real serious player on the UK festival scene.
OK, so rain, mud and adverse weather conditions are very much a staple of the British festival scene and shouldn’t be much of a surprise to the seasoned festival goer, which is why it came as somewhat of a shock that Y Not Festival (who have this year just lost their independent status, following a sale to big corporate: Global), seemed on the back foot from the second the heavens opened on Friday.
Despite best efforts to embrace the treacherous conditions and enjoy themselves, things just went from bad to worse for Y Not dwellers, with a handful of main stage acts getting cancelled or cut short and then the damning news that Friday night headliners The Vaccines weren’t even going to be allowed to take to the stage.
It’s at this point many thought the organisers might have stepped in with some heroic act to get those angry campers back on side, instead come Saturday morning, when the rain finally stopped (for a bit), Y Not patrons woke up to be greeted by what can only be described as something similar to a scene from Dunkirk, a landscape full of dismay and misery.
No attempts had been made to dry the ground with sawdust or straw (to be fair they’d have needed a lot) and entrances in and out of the arena and campsites were in a constant state of bottleneck, as security seemed more concerned about checking people weren’t trying to sneak in their own cans of warm beer than making sure people got around site safely and in time to watch acts who were still playing.
To add insult to injury, some of those who decided to duck out for a shower or needed to leave were told when they tried to return that they couldn’t bring their car back on to the festival site, as the ground condition had deteriorated so severely, despite having paid the handsome price of £15 to park there for the weekend.
Organised chaos had ensued and it was now that the cracks really started to show. Despite the catastrophic state the site had ended up in, the presence of festival staff on hand to help out was minimal – most were no doubt attempting to keep dry, but this meant that news of set time changes on the main stage were slow to spread resulting in yet more unhappy Y Notters.
Despite organisers advising tickets holders on their website: ‘NOT TO BRING ANY VALUABLES – THEY DON’T TEND TO FARE WELL AFTER 3 DAYS IN A FIELD! DON’T BRING ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE!’, they decided to almost exclusively communicate all information about set time changes, cancellations and eventually the closure of the festival via their social media channels, meaning that many of those who chose to just suck it up and get on with having a good time didn’t even get to see some of Saturday night’s acts.Those who were lucky enough to see some emphatic sets from Declan McKenna, Slaves, Jake Bugg and Stereophonics on the main stage were subject to a very poor sound quality that barely reached the back of the arena, while standing there the whole time with their feet rooted firmly to the ground due to the 10 or so inches of mud below them.
Another massive grumble was, for the first time (that we can remember), barely (if any) of the tents and stages had any signs up so you could actually see which one you were moving slowly through the mud towards, it’s pretty difficult to find a band you want to watch, when you’ve got to guess which stage they might be on – this one feels pretty basic.
When the news finally filtered through that the site was shutting down on Sunday morning, we made a hasty dash for the exit – since getting off site and looking through Y Not’s official statement about the early closure, the main reason cited is: ‘getting guests off site safely is our number one priority’. Now, unless organisers were doing this from their ivory towers, there wasn’t much evidence of it.Firstly, all paths that went through the arena area (logically the quickest way to the car park from the campsites that were located at the opposite end of the site), had been shut off, meaning everyone was forced to take the long trip round the perimeters of the grounds with all their cargo in tow.
Once arriving at the car park, it was an absolute free for all. No signs pointing to the exit, no signs pointing out the route in which people need to go to find an exit and probably most shockingly just a handful of stewards to give any directions amidst the chaos. In true festival spirit, those who inevitably got their cars stuck in the mud (we did twice), relied on the kind spirit of others also desperately scrambling for the exit to give them a push – meaning many were stuck for 3-4 hours.
Now, it easy to point out all the bad things (there was lots to be fair – some of which were beyond the control of man – others definitely could have been planned for and avoided) – with that being said, it was a testament to the people attending Y Not, that despite the odds being stacked severely against them, most of them just wanted to get on with it and certainly wouldn’t have been leaving on Sunday if they hadn’t been told too.
Another highlight was the great work that the chaps at This Feeling are doing for unsigned/up and coming artists. They have taken residence at the Allotment Stage for the past few years now, as part of their tour of UK festivals and venues.
We had a great time there, and they were probably the biggest beneficiaries from the weather, as many were forced to seek refuge from the rain, packing out their tent when many might have opted for the main stage.
This Feeling organisers released a statement following the festival, thanking the team for their efforts and apologising to all the bands who didn’t get their chance to play (many of whom will have been doing it for the first time), as well as promising them future opportunities to make up for it – the world needs more outfits like this.
Shout out also to Pulled Apart By Horses too, who along with Octofunk rescheduled their Sunday set in a little pub down the road from the festival in Buxton for free.
Y Not have promised to release a statement over the coming days detailing their plans to ‘compensate’ tickets holders, let hope they do the right thing, take some of this on board and have a long hard think about how they wipe the slate clean for next year.