One of the UK's fastest-growing festivals, Derbyshire's Y Not returned for its ninth outing and delivered a weekend chocked full of 'I was there' moments; be it the triumphant closure of Dizzee Rascal's compelling Saturday night headliner set, the smooth hip-hop of American trio De La Soul or the rousing, foot-stomping bangers that pumped out of the Saloon Bar all weekend long, there was something for every music lover, young and old, at this year's gathering.
For me, it began on Friday with exciting Birmingham band Superfood. Scores of teens flooded the main stage front to see the intriguing four-piece, who proceeded to belt out guitar-led anthems that were shouty, loud and fun. A band who'd been on my radar for a while, exceeded my expectations and kicked off the festival nicely. Intermittent rain showers were just a preview of the weather to come, but still it led me to the Saloon Bar in the middle of the site, to check out Three Minute Heist.
The Saloon Bar is a perfect replica of an American Western bar, with only the stench of Somersby cider and cans of Tuborg giving away the fact we were at a festival in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside in 2014! Nevertheless, that didn't stop the aforementioned quartet bringing their brand of country blues and sing-a-longs along to transport us back a century. The packed out venue was rocking, especially so with closer 'Johnny B. Goode'.
After checking out the finest reggae and drum 'n' bass tents Y Not has to offer, it was off to the wetter Main Stage to check out London's very own Spector. Lead singer Fred Macpherson's powerful and unique vocals managed to keep his band alive, as they put in a so-so performance of their back catalogue 'Chevy Thunder' and fresh cuts from an upcoming new record, that managed to keep the crowd bobbing along to their bouncy pop-rock.
The first of the weekend's big boys then took to the Main Stage; Johnny Borrell leading his Razorlight bandmates out almost a decade after headlining a stage at Glastonbury. They reeled through a Greatest Hits set in which you could sense their class, but it was all pretty unexciting. Borrell was never the greatest of stage presences, and whilst his ambition was there, his band never quite reached their fullest of potential with either their career or this subbing set.
A headline set by Reel Big Fish is a must-see. The pop-punk band are an assured live act, and got the Quarry crowd up off their feet for a good chunk of the gig. Live brass bands are always a plus, and the band had their crowd in the palm of their hand, with circle pits forming as far as the eye could see, a packed crowd revelled in the moment in what was surely one of the most memorable Quarry sets. Finishing with their famed cover of a-ha's 'Take on Me', was predictable, yet incredible.
A quick dash back over to the Main Stage, saw White Lies begin. Despite their tunes lacking the considerable 'oomph' of their fellow headliners, the indie-rockers kept sections of the crowd entertained, with an enjoyable if forgettable set.
My Saturday began over at the Quarry, to check out up-and-coming rap/pop artist Ady Suleiman. Describing him as a 'better' Ed Sheeran might be a step too far (and I'm not a fan of Sheeran!), but Suleiman was the perfect hangover cure for many, as he and his band rattled through their half-an-hour set, leaving you wanting far, far more. If there could be any criticism, it would be that his lyrics could develop moreso, hearing song after song about the generic 'lost woman' does tire after a bit, but this is a man to watch out for. Equally experiemental beatboxer Shlomo was another top pick. Using his loop machine, he treated us to stories of how he discovered his talent, a great cover of 'No Diggity' and a pulsating climax.
One of the most anticipated artists of 2013 were Brummie's Swim Deep. Scintiallating cuts of sun-laden summery tunes were released periodically by them throughout the year, before the release of debut album, 'Where The Heaven We Are' disappointed many, myself included. This set though, reignited some hope within me, that they can reach the heights promised by songs like 'Honey' and 'King City', as they impressed hugely in 'Arcade Fire'-esque blue facepaint. The all-important second record could make or break them.
Scots The Fratellis, know all about that, debut album 'Costello Music', providing them with a springboard into British music, before their follow-up 'Here We Stand' flopping, and the inevitable hiatus following. But they brought back memories of their 2006 breakthrough with hit after hit. Even the songs that weren't ingrained into our brains, were pretty good, bouncy tracks. However, throughout the set, bottles and cans of beer littered the stage, leading to frontman Jon Fratelli to warn 'one more of that and that's your lot'. It ceased the flow, but still was an unsavoury incident, and not the last of it at all…
The man most of the 12,000 festival-goers had flocked to see, Dizzee Rascal took to the stage a little after his 10pm start time, but delivered in a massive way. His set was eclectic and his famed live show, was a tour de force in pure entertainment. All he needed was his DJ, a couple of hype men and the stage was set for a victorious performance. His collaborations with other artists, opener 'Here 2 China' with Calvin Harris, 'Heavy', from Chase & Status and the excellent 'Dirtee Love' with Florence + the Machine, reminded you of the quality of Dizzee's back catalogue, but his standalone hits, 'Holiday', 'Bassline Junkie' and the sheer power of 'Bonkers', makes you wonder how long it will be before Dizzee headlines ascends to headliner status at one of the UK's greatest and biggest festivals.
With the crowd size having thinned out following Mr Rascal's Saturday night slot, I thought it best to check out the finer sights of Y Not on Sunday…the funfair! With a cheap roller disco, a cracking dodgems and a postponed paint fight, Sunday was a riotous day, with the sun finally coming out to dry the festival site considerably by the evening. It boosted the fatigued amongst the Y Not crowd, and was grand preparation for a fantastic end to the festival.
Derby band Joint Honours managed to fill the Allotment stage to the max, bringing some poppy, guitar-driven tunes to the fore and getting the crowd going hugely for late afternoon on a Sunday. One of my favourite bands of the minute, Palma Violets did not disappoint on the Main Stage. The powerful rock band, were uber-confident and strutting around the stage for an extended 45-minute set. 'Best Friends' has to be the biggie, but I cannot wait for their second album to drop so they can expand their ambitious sound and step up to the next level.
A switch in sound, to the hip-hop stylings of legends De La Soul. Hit after hit followed as the trio participated in some hilarious crowd participation, promoting inter-crowd rivalries, before daring the very same idiotic people who had pelted bottles at the Fratellis the previous day to try the same with them, but letting them know how stupid they were, provoking yet more acclaim. Their set was a perfect exercise in getting a field full of weary bodies to dance to some classic tunes for one last hour.
There was only one man who could close such a festival, take to the stage Y Not three-timer, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Frank's last outing in these parts came in 2009, a well-overdue return saw him rise to headliner status. The cult rocker entertained in huge doses, as he reeled through tracks from 2013's 'Tape Deck Heart', his fifth studio album, as well as crowd favourites 'I Still Believe' and 'Wessex Boy'. The riotous fireworks that marked the end of his hour and the end of the Y Not weekend were special and poignant.
Here was an artist and a festival that have never been better, Y Not will celebrate its tenth birthday next August and whilst it is hard to see just how it will be able to cram more goodness into one weekend, you can bet that organisers will try their hardest to make 2015 bigger and better than this stellar weekend!