Y Not Festival 2016 Review

After receiving the award for 'Best Medium Sized Festival' of 2015, Y Not Festival stopped at nothing to raise the bar this year. Returning to the festival for the second year in a row, I had high hopes that it was going to phenomenal, with headline acts this year including Editors, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Madness along with many more huge acts covering every angle of music. Once again situated in the beautiful fields of the Peak District, the festival itself has grown a huge proportion in comparison to last year. With thousands more people attending the sold out festival, it can only mean the food's greater, the crowds are better and the energy is bigger. The arena itself has transformed, keeping the traditions of the Y Not sign, the Helter Skelter and the Saturday paint fight, we now had the addition of a few new stages including Arnie's in association with 'British and Irish modern music institute' and The Neon Coconut featuring acts Craig Charles and Mike Skinner.

On Friday there was an already huge excitement for the day's lineup. We had the main stage feature the forever returning Lancashire Hotpots who never fail to put a smile on the crowd's faces. Not only were the acts gaining a crowd but the events surrounding the arena, away from the music, were just as popular. An indoor cinema which across the weekend show cased popular classics such as The Goonies, Star Wars IV – VI and Ghost Busters proved to draw a huge crowd throughout the entire weekend. The first act which is got the chance to see as well as photograph was Everything Everything who took to the main stage. Having been a fan of their music for a few years now, as well as catching them at Leeds Festival last year, I was expecting them to be as awesome as ever. Kicking it off with the song ‘Blast Doors’ from their 2015 album, ‘Get to Heaven’, Everything Everything picked up the energy of the crowd almost as fast as Mr Motivator.



Later on the main stage we saw an outstanding performance from The Cribs. With resemblances to The Sex Pistols and the Smiths, the Yorkshire trio played some of their biggest tunes from ‘Men’s Needs’ to ‘Different Angle’. On the Giant Squid stage we had YAK who have been becoming increasingly popular with the younger crowds over the last year, playing across the UK. This stage is notorious for having the heavier rock and alternative bands. DJ Fresh headlined the second stage Friday night, but it was safe to say he was definitely placed in the wrong slot on the bill. His crowd was without a doubt the biggest of the night, filling and bursting out of the small tent, with many spectators saying he could have easily headlined main stage at the festival. It is reasons like this that you can see how big Y Not has become even within a year. The festival will grow and grow, as all I could hear throughout the weekend was how incredibly the atmosphere was. Headlining the main stage Friday night were the Editors a band which I was not too familiar with. Walking into the pit and seeing their industrial sized props and elaborate stage setup could only mean that these guys were pulling out all the stops. The crowd was a big as that of DJ Fresh with the intense build up of energy as the minutes drew closer to the Editor’s appearance. Opening their set with ‘Sugar’ the energy transgressed from the instruments directly into the crowd. With fire blasting from the stage and a wall of sparks cascading down from the roof of the stage, the band was a spectacular start to the weekend of strong headliners.



Waking up on Saturday the energy of the festival was low. The sun was shining but after a fantastic first night at Y Not, the crowds were definitely in the need to recover. That’s why, year after year, the first act on the main stage was Mr Motivator. GMTV star Derek Evans knows how to wake everyone up with his classic 90s spandex and crazy wake up moves. For a man of 63, he has the energy and the motivation of a man more than half his age.
With the tradition of the paint fight, the performances from acts Blood Youth, and HECK, Saturday was off to a crazy start. After seeing HECK a few times over the last year, they have never failed to surprise the crowd, as well as the security. Matt Reynolds pulled out all the stops, as much as he could, since his leg injury from 2000 Trees Festival. Jonny therefore took this into his own hands and went as crazy as he could for the both of them. Some of the best acts of the weekend appeared on the main stage on Saturday, including Eliza and the Bear and Catfish and the Bottlemen.




Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were the headliners for the night. After seeing a lot of    impressionable ‘Gallagher style’ haircuts throughout the day, I was sure that he was going to draw one of the biggest crowd’s of the weekend. The majority of his set included songs from Oasis including ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Half the World Away’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. As impressed as the crowd were, even Noel Gallagher himself was proud of the crowd saying on his Instagram @themightyi ‘If you were in that crowd last night at Y-Not then I salute you!! One of the best We've ever played for’.



The final day of the festival brought us a lot of cold windy weather but that did nothing to stop the crowd’s high spirits. With performances from DJ Yoda, SIKTH, Blossoms, The Hives and Madness, the final day of the festival had some of the most diverse range of music going. The Hives were undoubtably one of my favourite acts of the festival. They could have easily been up there with Madness and Editors to headline the festival. Their crowd was also one of the roughest I’ve seen on main stage all weekend, as no one can beat the crowds for HECK, they’re simply too rough. After being in the photo pit for less than a minute for The Hives I was already drenched in beer and bruised from crowd surfers. They opened with ‘Come On!’ and finished with ‘Tick Tick Boom’.

Madness were personally not as strong as The Hives from a younger generation’s perspective. Yes, they encouraged a huge crowd by playing classic such as ‘Our House’, ‘House of Fun’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’, however it was definitely from a slightly older generation who preferred Madness over The Hives. Still Madness were a throwback which grew a heartwarming atmosphere amongst the crowd. Covering songs such as ‘Highway to Hell’ by AC/DC, they encouraged the rocker loving youths in the crowd to join in on the fun.



Overall it is clear that Y Not festival has increased and grown to an ever improving festival. Taking considerations from the public, they have made this year as popular as the last. I hope I can watch as this festival continues to rise. If anyone has yet to visit the Peak District to take part in Y Not then I can be sure to you that it ill be worth it. A family safe festival full with music of all genres. I look forward to 2017.


Y Not Festival 2014 Review

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!