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Y Not Festival 2016: The View From Far Out

As the dust settles on the Derbyshire site, Y Not Festival is done for one more year.

Despite Noel Gallagher flippantly claiming he had never heard of Y Not before, just as he took to the stage for his momentous headline set – the festival has spent 11 years crafting its identity and establishing itself as a key player on the independent festival scene.

Despite organisers potentially missing the mark slightly when it came managing the additional human traffic that inevitably comes with increasing the capacity and selling more tickets, Y Not (for the most of it) manages to retain its charm and character.

Friday felt like it was all about staying dry, so as we did our best to avoid getting pissed on by the painfully archetypical British summer festival weather, we found ourselves at the Quarry stage, where Nottingham hot prospects and BBC Introducing inductees Suspect Alibi were kicking off the show.

This ultra-tight five piece may have been blessed by the weather forcing many to take refuge under the big top of the Quarry, but they wasted no time in getting them all on board.

By the time the lads were just part way through their set of ice cool indie anthems, this packed out crowd was well and truly converted.

Later on our focuses turned to main stage and the bent out of shape power-pop sounds of Manchester’s Everything Everything, who had the job of consoling a field full of disappointed Kelis fans (there was more of them than you’d think) after organises announced she wasn’t going to perform – we’re not quite sure what the lads in the Y Not office will be most pissed off about – the fact at some point they thought it was a good idea to book her OR the fact that she pied them off.

Next up Yak were about to get the heavier proceedings underway, over at the Giant Squid, where we were treated to a super a raw set of distorted rock and roll.

It was such a raucous sound, as the band tore through tracks from recently released Alas Salvation. Set highlights included the gloomy undertones of Victorious and scuzzy, screechy guitar riffs of Harbour the Feeling.

Returning to The Big Gin stage following their triumphant and emphatic headline performance a few years ago, Wakefield boys the Cribs wasted no time in marking their return to the Derbyshire site in style.

In true Cribs fashion we are treated to an unpredictable and erratic set that spans the Jarman boy’s long and distinguished career. A rare outing for The Wong Way to Be and an epic rendition of Be Safe make this another one to remember.

With that out the way we decided we’d rather spend some one on one time with that overzealous security guard with the rubber glove we had to sneak past on the gate, than go and watch DJ Fresh, so it was time to hit up the Bassweight Tent to see the night off with some grimey dub beats.

As Saturday came round it was now we got to spend some time at one of our favourite parts of the festival, the Jack Daniels Allotment Stage. Curated by This Feeling – backers of all the best new music. This was a unique little tent with chandeliers forged from Jack Daniels bottles hanging from the ceiling. They only served fucking whiskey and coke like, but you can’t have it all.

We caught Leeds outfit the Carnabells tearing it up here on Saturday afternoon, with a much grittier sound encompassing their live performance, it’s a more in your face than we remember on the recording, making for some very enjoyable listening.

With a multitude of acts on the main stage to check out, we caught back to back sets from Rat Boy and Circa Waves who provided the perfect soundtrack for a sunny afternoon, as we got ourselves suitably oiled for the night ahead.

By the time Saturday night headliner Noel Gallagher came along, there was a sense amongst the crowd, that this is the one they’d all been waiting for. Indie heavyweights Catfish and the Bottlemen did a more than suitable job of warming up the crowd, as they showcased just how well they’ve perfected their live game over the past few years, but as the sun started to set, all eyes turned to the Chief.

Perhaps it’s not the kind of rodeo the ex-Oasis ringleader has been used to over the years, as he asked the audience where the fuck he was, but not without tongue firmly in his cheek it must be added.

Noel had this crowd hanging off his every word as he showcased the very best of his solo career with five Oasis songs thrown in for good measure – executed with perfection, it’s what this man does best.

Thoroughly entertained we retired to the Xanadu tent to catch the Thirsty Ear DJs drop a few bangers, spanning funk, soul, hip-hop, disco and reggae, as we took advantage of some more of Y Not’s deborturous late night entertainment.

It took us till Sunday to find our way back to the Saloon, the festival’s very own wooden cowboy bar, but it was a more civilized affair than what we’d experienced in previous years – there was no one dancing one tables or swinging from the lights – just the blue grass grooves from Jonny Wild and the Broken Hearts.

It was back at the Allotment though that we caught one of our favourite bands and truly one of the highlights of the festival. Bang Bang Romeo are hot property at the moment and for a band with such a unique and powerful sound, their live shows truly are special.

Frontwoman Anastasia Walker led The Sheffield four-piece out on stage to a ram packed tent – a mix of some loyal disciples and some who’d come along to see what all the fuss was about.

The energy this band have on stage is something else, set highlights included fan favourite Johannesburg, the extremely moving and powerful Chemical, and the band’s latest single Invitation – which proved the most epic way to conclude their time at Y Not, with Walker making her way into the crowd to end proceedings. If you haven’t already, make sure you check these guys out.

As Sunday night rolled around, it was time to check out Blossoms, touted and pimped by the likes of Radio 1 for some time now, they’ve been the band on everyone’s lips. Eager to see how these young lads from Stockport would deliver we sacked off Madness and headed to the Quarry.

On arrival it was clear that Blossoms could have filled this tent twice over, it was a far cry to when they played their early afternoon set here last year.

It’s become apparent since then that these guys not only believe the hype, but are grabbing it by the balls and running away with it.

Frontman and lead singer Tom Ogden looked like he’d been doing this all his life, with an abundance of swagger and confidence – he even stopped half way through his set to track down an audience member he’d promised 10 quid to over Twitter.

It’s fair to say this is a band that are still honing their sound, it was a varied but impressive set, including the super charged synth stylings of Blown Rose, the extremely infectious Getaway and the stripped back, acoustic sounds of My Favourite Room.

In an extremely classy act the band dedicated set closer and latest single Charlemagne to their late friends Viola Beach – we’re sold, these guys might be the real deal.

Y Not, you’ve done it again, see you next year.

All photos from Strawberry Photographic