As far as 10th birthday parties go, Y Not Festival did a stellar job of setting the bar up in out of space, with the dust probably still settling at the Derbyshire site, from the weekend’s mayhem just gone.
Now in its tenth year, this now not so small independent festival has exploded to seismic levels in its short time of existence.
Starting off as a party in one of the organiser’s back garden, this annual juggernaut with its committed local following is leaving some more established festivals with their over priced piss-beer and mixed bag-of-cat-shit line ups for dead.
While the site itself is creeping that bit bigger every year, Y Not veterans will have been pleased at the return of Sgt Peppers Meadows, the Octopus’s Garden and Revolution Green – all back bigger and better than ever.
We arrived just in time on Thursday to catch 90s old boys Ash, who despite trying soil their set with ‘one(s) from the new album’ did a suitable job of well and truly getting the party started.
As we narrowly avoided joining the ‘peak-too-soon Thursday night club’, Friday had plenty to offer to revitalise and get us going again.
The Main Stage was calling, and it was Scottish garage duo Honeyblood getting us started.
The Glasgow girls commanded a crowd far more worthy than the usual afternoon ‘lull slot’ with an array of tunes from their self-titled debut LP as well as an outing for new track ‘Babes Never Die’.
Closer ‘Killer Bangs’ epitomised this set of skuzzy noise-pop melodies absolutely perfect for a sunny festival afternoon.
An honorable mention has to go to the Lancashire Hot Pots and their outrageous and fucking nuts take on comedy folk.
It might have gotten the crowd on their feet and downing pints, but it kind of reminded us a little bit too much of that racist folk band from Phoenix Nights.
Next up though it was time to check a band who have been creating a mammoth splash since smashing onto the scene with their first single early last year.
In the midst of a huge run of summer shows, including an explosive set at Glastonbury, Slaves were every bit as raw and manic as their reputation precedes.
‘Feed the Mantaray’, ‘Sockets’ and the harrowing sounds of ‘the Hunter’ made this a serious contender for best set of the festival.
It might be punk rock for Radio 1 listeners, but the lads from Kent, tore Y Not a new one stealing the show from a lackluster Snoop, who was more content on playing the crowd than showcasing his brilliance.
It was an average at best showing from the veteran rapper and not the master class in hip-hop we’d hoped to see, whoever let this dog out, should have just put him down.
But that certainly wasn’t going to put a dampener on our night as we opted for an old favourite from last year’s festival, taking residence in the Bassweight tent again – the cool, sharp dubs of Sheffield’s Mr Meerkat, to bounce till the early hours.
Saturday rolled around and it was time for our first trip to the Quarry Stage, to check out a band we’d had a red hot tip about.
RedFaces, from just up the road in Sheffield, looked like they’d been given the afternoon off school to come and play this set(!) (seriously though one of them has just finished their GCSEs). But we shit you not, these lads fucking smashed it.
Looking outrageously confident, these boys from the Steel City set the Quarry on fire with their take on good old fashioned indie rock and roll.
Gaining support from the likes of BBC Introducing and XFM, we’ll be eagerly awaiting what comes next.
From new kids on the block to some dab hands next, as Brit-pop old boys Ocean Colour Scene took to the Main Stage.
With a crowd that probably didn’t do them justice – it was banger after banger from the Birmingham band as they blasted through a career spanning set.
With the same nostalgia inducing vibes as Shed Seven (who played this slot last year), Y Not festival reminds us yet again how good music used to be.
Saturday night though was for the dancers and Basement Jaxx did everything to put right where Snoop went so wrong the night before.
Oiled up and off their heads, Y Notters were alive and kicking under the lights and beats of electronica at its very best.
Basement Jaxx bought the party and the show as their triumphant set came to a close with a fireworks flying through the sky.
Still in the mood to kick our feet about, we found ourselves at the Xanadu Tent buried deep in the heart of the Octopus’s Garden, which at this hour had all the psychedelic stylings to guarantee a good time.
Here we got our very first taste of the Thirsty Ear DJs who had booked themselves a bit of a residency here over the weekend.
A genre spanning DJ collective who operate mainly in vinyl, Thirsty Ear provided hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae afro, latin and just downright party bangers.
With no room to move within the Xanadu Tent, the party had splintered out of all three sides, we were locked in all night long.
The rather apt ‘Where is My Mind’ by Pixies finished off the night reminding most, shit we’re doing this all again tomorrow.
Returning to the scene of the crime, from the night before, Smiling Ivy were just getting started as we arrived back at the Xanadu Tent on Sunday afternoon – the heavy rock-reggae and jam ska beats of this unusual local band provided something just that little bit different.
But it was a double header over at the Quarry though next with two Far Out favourites playing back to back sets.
First up was The Bohicas, who having just been signed by Domino are making quite a splash.
Their riff heavy set was lapped up by the hundreds of onlookers, with the band dropping recently released ‘XXX’ and ‘the Swarm’ much to their delight.
Up next was hypnotic London quartet Gengahr, who having just released their debut album ‘A Dream Outside’ seemed to have pulled in the masses.
Set highlights included ‘She’s A Witch’ and ‘Bathed in Light’ as the band cast their unique trancey sound across the tent.
With plenty of premium guitar music on offer on Sunday it only seemed fitting that it be topped off by two behemoths of the trade.
Smith’s frontman Johnny Marr turned up to give what can only be described as a master class in how a to play a guitar.
With a set a that comprised of both a healthy amount of material from his two solo albums intertwined with some Smith’s favourites and a cover of the Clash’s version of ‘I Fought the Law’.
As hard as it was to top, cult icons and the original Scottish rock band Primal Scream had the job of closing down the festival.
Kicking off with ‘2013’ Bobby Gillespie looked ice cool, as he strutted around what must have seemed like a tiny little Main Stage to him.
These seasoned pros blasted through a set a Primal Scream favourites including ‘Jail Bird’, ‘Accelerator’, ‘Kill All Hippies’, Country Girl’ and ‘Loaded’.
The crowd were in awe as Gillespie pulled the plug on Y Not 2015 with a ferocious rendition of ‘Rocks’.
As this festival snowballs, it’s starting to outgrow its old tag line: ‘Small, Fresh and Loud’
While it’s fair to say Y Not are still keeping it fresh and arguably still loud, it’s hard to imagine this annual pilgrimage doing anything but get bigger and bigger.
Y Not Festival have it right on so many levels, offering a perfect combination of heavyweight acts and break through talent, as well as an onsite offering that rivals some festivals with a £200+ price tag.
We can’t wait to see what next year has to offer – lets just hope it doesn’t grow up too fast.
Will De Nardo
(Photo credit Sophie King)