With Y Not Festival looking to follow up their Best Medium Sized Festival gong at last year’s UK Festival Awards, Getintothis’ Jake Marley went a long to see how they fared.
Every festival has a trump card, Y Not Festival’s is certainly its location. It has to be said Derbyshire doesn’t exactly jump out at you and give you a big sloppy kiss on the lips like Portmerion does for Festival No.6. However there’s a stunning atmosphere locked within the Pikehall valleys, even if it does feel like you’re on a Duke Of Edinburgh Award expedition or featuring as an extra in Silent Hill at times.
As this was Getintothis’ first trip to the award winning Y Not Festival, before we get into the music, it’d be rude to not look a little deeper into what the festival site brings to the table.
On first impression the festival site oozes no thrills. The box office housing press accreditation was quite literally a box, that’s a festival first right there, needs must though when you’ve got to pay Noel Gallagher’s fee though eh. No frills isn’t necessarily a negative either, effort had clearly gone into the site’s look. There was colour aplenty, everything sort of belonged and didn’t look out of place but nothing in daylight really made you stand up and go wow – when the sun sets however it’s a whole different story, more on that later.
Attractions was something Y Not tried to do well, with credit were it’s due, although sampling them wasn’t really on the agenda filled with Jack Daniel’s and mexican food in the baking sun.
Away from the main arena, there was a strip of alternative attractions, so to speak, the pick of which was a fully functioning cinema showing cult movies inside. Quite why you’d want to watch a film whilst at a music festival is up for discussion, but it looked ace non-the-less. Elsewhere on the strip, a retro gaming arcade and roller and silent disco’s. All very good fun, when you’re not under the influence…or when you are, if that floats your boat.
Before we float anymore boats…or sink any. Let’s get onto music, quick. The Arena housed FIVE main stages; The Big Gin (Main Stage), The Quarry, The Giant Squid, This Feeling & Jack Daniel’s Tent and The Neon Coconut (primarily hosting DJ’s) as well as several smaller stages and clubs too, overall not a lot on paper. It’s not a lot in person either, however more than enough to keep you busy, there’s a real close-knit feel on-site with everything not a million miles away from each other. One thing being on a grass field brings into the play is Big-top tents. Utilised to great effect by Y Not, allowing stages to be in relatively close proximity without even the slightest bit of noise pollution.
Stage set then; tent up, site explored (kind of), copious amounts of Dark Fruit cider downed, but a music festival isn’t a music festival without a musical menu. Happily Y Not Festival didn’t let us down on that front.
New to Y Not Festival for this year, This Feeling’s new music tent in association with Jack Daniel’s. This Feeling’s club nights have developed quite a following up and down the country with founder Mikey Jonns working tirelessly to give new bands a chance to live their dream, showcase their music and be part of a loving music community.
This Feeling knocked it out the park all weekend. It’s as simple as that, this is a movement, a fresh philosophy, a community. The like that can ultimately lead guitar bands back into the forefront of the UK’s music scene. Developing the next big thing’s, our next festival headliners. Bringing together the finest new bands from up and down the country Glasgow to Brighton and quite literally every place in between. The energy, artistry, stage presence, atmosphere and complete and utter respect for everything going on in that tent all weekend is commendable and ultimately game-changing.
Every headline set felt massive. Every band played to a packed crowd, how it should be and how This Feeling demand it to be. Black Honey quite simply had the crowd of the entire festival, loudest sing-a-longs, sweatiest fringes.
Huge nods also to Trampolene who continue to be one of the most refreshing and all the while extremely captivating live bands on the circuit. In Jack Jones they have a poet that’s been there, seen it, done it. Toured with The Libertines and been in NME, yet lives for the sweaty This Feeling crowd and leads a band to perform like every gig’s their last, phenomenal.
Liverpool’s own The Jackobins play a special hometown show for This Feeling in Liverpool September 30 and set the Y Not Festival bar pretty high playing to a packed tent mid-afternoon, alt-pop anthemic choruses aplenty went down a storm. Radio X track of the week, Hasty was made for packed, sweaty Big-Tops like this, whilst traditional set closer Prussia, now complete with live trumpets sounds massive.
So many bands delivered across the weekend from Hidden Charms who gamely took on their Catfish and the Bottlemen clash on Saturday to the likes of Cupids, The Shimmer Band and White Room who are undoubtedly up there with the best live underground bands in the country and Liverpool’s own effortlessly cool-cats The Vryll Society.
Clash of the weekend definitely goes to Friday night. Considering for the most part it felt as if there was nothing but the This Feeling tent on form for nigh on two hours post 8pm – having Black Honey, Deap Vally and Editors all clash after 10pm surely could’ve been avoided. It’s always a pain in the arse.
It subsequently meant catching just the opening moments of Editors and their confetti firing before dashing back through backstage to the This Feeling side of stage for the hotly anticipated headline set from Brighton hotshots Black Honey. All this before dashing wildly across the field to The Giant Squid for the majority of Californian duo Deap Vally’s set in a tent that’d hardly be seen for the rest of the weekend – the rather damp squib of The Giant Squid, which didn’t seem to host much else of note all weekend long.
Due to the horrendous clash by the time you’d wormed your way into The Giant Squid (home to the giant mosh-pit, it seems), Deap Vally were already mid-way through their 45 minute set. As more and more people appeared to have the same idea of trying to catch both sets, the crowd swelled considerably before seemingly deciding to start one big mosh-pit circle from one side of the tent to the other, it went off, no-one died, plenty of bruises though and a mate got a smack in the eye. Amongst all that, the new tunes sound fucking belter live.
The Quarry stage was pretty frustrating all weekend long. Line-up wise it was spot on, no complaints here. Booking wise it was far from spot on. Plenty of complaints here. Who’s wise idea was it to have Blossoms (arguably the hottest band in the country right now) and DJ Fresh in this tent? Absolutely laughable. People could’ve been seriously injured during DJ Fresh due to crazy overcrowding. Blossoms performing just ahead of their debut album release could’ve filled the tent twice over with relative ease.
About 15 minutes before the band even hit the stage there was about 200-300 people littering the outside of the tent all the way around going back for hundreds of yards who could hardly see or hear a thing. For those of us who could get in, Blossoms delivered, as they so often do. Same goes for Sundara Karma, you could barely get in the tent way before their set had even started. Not good on all counts and needs addressing, The Quarry in its current form simply can’t accommodate the artists Y Not’s ambitions seek.
Main Stage wise the festival was at it’s best. The Amazons deserved their promotion to the main stage and put in a traditionally thrashing performance before sun-kissed Eliza and The Bear and Liverpudlians Circa Waves further flicked the switch on Saturday night leading the energy into festival favourites Catfish and the Bottlemen and a historic headline performance from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, playing songs from his new album as well as his extensive back catalogue including several Oasis hits across a stunning backdrop of a valley sunset, the like only Y Not can boast. Staggeringly beautiful.
Editors, confetti and all closed Friday night with aplomb, astutely backed up by Everything Everything who seem to well…play everything these days, but never disappoint. Meanwhile Sunset Sons and VANT more than earned their stripes building up to one of the performances of the weekend from The Hives, before nostalgia oozed through the fields in a frenzy for Madness on Sunday night.
Getintothis’ top Three picks of Y Not Festival 2016
3. Deap Vally on The Giant Squid Stage – Friday July 29
Absolutely staggering live band. New album sounds massive, previous album still kicks hard. Sweaty, angstry and bruisy, utterly delightful. It’s impossible not to love sweating your tits off to Deap Vally in a tent with loads of semi-pissed, rather harmless but totally psyched up lunatics, throwing themselves into a contender for mosh-pit of the year. They belong in a tent, although the lighting could’ve been a bit better it was impossible even with a good camera to get a half decent shot. That doesn’t detract from the performance though, next level.
2. The Hives on The Big Gin Stage – Sunday July 31
The Hives were that good, Madness felt like a slight anti-climax an hour or so later. There’s not many bands that interact with the crowd better either. Fledgling bands take note this is how to do stage patter and presence, just watch The Hives live show. You couldn’t swipe the smiles off thousands of faces for miles. The classics still come across live as if they were released yesterday and they’re still one of the tightest live bands around, sensational.
1. Black Honey on The Allotment Stage (This Feeling/Jack Daniel’s) – Friday July 29
Black Honey’s headline set Friday night pretty much set the tone for the This Feeling Allotment stage all weekend. Sweaty, sing-a-longs, pits, shoulders, flying bodies, Jack Daniel’s pretty much everywhere but in a cup. Pure carnage, exactly how it should be.
Black Honey have this seriously cool 60s Americana persona going on with Izzy Bee excelling as a dead-eyed Debbie Harry/Lana Del Rey hybrid like no other. All My Pride is a pure pound for pound banger with more mash than sense. Black Honey need to be playing main stages across the board next year otherwise there’s going to be a safety risk, they’re seriously outgrowing intimate settings, mayhem.
Photos provided to Getintothis’ by Stephi LaReine and Katie Willoughby