Music Reviews

Music Review: Y Not Festival 2018

Taking place in the heart of the Peak District, Y Not Festival brings together amazing music, food and people for one jam-packed weekend every summer. Despite the heavy winds and rain that threatened the festival this July, it pulled through with its fantastic lineup and enthusiastic crowds and Impact had the pleasure of experiencing it.

Arriving in gorgeous sunshine, I was excited for the weekend, spotting the helter skelter, ferris wheel and many circus-looking tents erected amidst the hills. We pitched our tent and were off to explore. Y Not’s variety of artists and entertainment is wonderful. There were stages like The Quarry with no fixed genre, The Giant Squid for heavier stuff, Flamingo Jacks for comedy and dance, Saloon Bar for country and blues, Allotment for local Derbyshire talent and more for DJs and dance music – you’re not stuck for choice.

After an impromptu interview with Circa Waves, followed by entering the photopit too late and embarrassingly being ushered out by security (we joked about it, it was all good), I stepped back to watch Fickle Friends. I only recently discovered them but would recommend this band to anyone who wants to appreciate lead singer Natassja’s fashion sense and vocal talent, which is sometimes lost in the recorded tracks. ‘Hard To Be Myself’ was especially powerful with the crowd getting surprisingly into it for 5pm.

Easy Life, Generation (hardcore rock and half-naked man – not my thing) and The Sherlocks later, it was time for dinner. Duck roasted potatoes and curry sauce left me ready for Circa Waves who were the highlight of my Friday. The main stage area was packed and moshpits, coloured smoke bombs and ‘T-Shirt Weather’ sparked a summer dance party. But it became clear it wouldn’t be t-shirt weather for long…

After seeing Nadia Rose and her incredible backing dancers take over The Quarry with their girl power, I appreciated Nicky Wire’s silver shiny trousers and flower-embroidered blazer during Manic Street Preacher’s old school set, briefly caught headliner The Libertines and then headed over to Moose Blood in The Giant Squid. Having seen them on a tiny stage at Reading, I was delighted to see so many people dancing and singing along , filling up the tent with a palpable energy.

It was then that t-shirt weather turned into oh-god-I-only-have-a-t-shirt weather as the heavy winds and rain caused havoc for Saturday. The VIP and media areas were closed, the main stage shut down temporarily and I thought my tent was going to flood and take off at the same time. But the festival pressed on and most people with it.

Superfood were moved from the main stage so people squeezed into The Quarry for their impressive set. The band was just as good as when I saw them support Wolf Alice and I was happy to be dancing along out of the rain rather than in it.

Pretending I wasn’t freezing to death in my shorts, we had a look in Flamingo Jacks. We caught the end of Gary Delaney’s set with his one-liners successfully making me and the audience laugh, but being a little too rude for the 3:30pm family crowd (there were 5 year olds there…). We stayed in the tent for a while, admittedly due to the unappealing weather outside, but I’m glad as we got to experience Abandoman. It has been a long time since I have laughed that hard, the Irish comedian’s spontaneous raps and songs so clever and bloody hilarious. I dreaded the audience involvement but happily managed to avoid it, laughing at the victims and the songs about them. It was a thoroughly enjoyable set and made up for the awful weather.

Then it was time for Pale Waves. There is something so special about Pale Waves with their unusual sound and stage presence enlivened by Heather’s dancing. They championed the rain and attracted a large audience, putting the main stage back on track for the upcoming artists.

The Amazons rocked their set, Goat Girl wowed me with their beautiful harmonies, damning lyrics and post-punk music, and Youngr’s talent hyped up his fairly small crowd, impressing me as much as he did at Barn on Farm but sadly with fewer people to appreciate it.

Wolfing down a huge Yorkshire pudding with bangers, chips and onion gravy (delicious), I made it in time to shoot the Kaiser Chiefs who, despite not being headliners, brought the biggest crowd yet. They performed their famous songs along with some lesser known gems and after microphone throwing and scaffolding climbing from Ricky Wilson, I left to catch the end of Tom Grennan’s set.

Despite being scheduled at the same time as the Kaiser Chiefs, Grennan filled the tent with fans singing and dancing along, myself included. He couldn’t help but repeat “I am buzzing” and I think everyone agreed. He is naturally a crowd pleaser and his mix of energetic and emotional songs created such an intimate atmosphere that meant that he insisted on playing two last songs despite running out of time. He is definitely going to go far and I am determined to see him perform again soon.

The rain managed to hold off for Saturday’s headliner Catfish And The Bottlemen. I sang along to every song and the crowd went crazy for them with many a moshpit and smoke bomb, their set and infectious energy creating a lively end to a dreary day.

Another rough night, a hairbrush snapped in half and a broken umbrella, and the last day had crept up on us. Many festival goers had called quits so it was quieter on the last day, yet Tom Walker managed to draw a fairly large crowd for his set. They got totally involved in his “therapy” song ‘Rapture’ which focuses on the bad news of the world, loving shouting back “F*** it” when prompted. His song ‘Leave A Light On’ left a lasting impression and then I headed to The Quarry.

Sam Fender, a definite heartthrob, performed with his band and later by himself for a beautiful acoustic end to his set. His vocal range and soulful, powerful voice was stunning and when he said “this is a new song but it doesn’t matter because you don’t know who I am”, I left thinking that it won’t be long before everyone does.

I had the best meal on the Sunday night from a stall called The English Indian. Spiced pakora battered halloumi, chat masala seasoned chips, jaipur slaw and curried baked beans with sweet chilli jam – I couldn’t have been happier. The food at the festival was of such a good quality, despite some of it being rather over-priced, and there was so much variation I was constantly lost for choice.

My stomach full, I headed to see The Wombats, who not only had a big turnout, but brought the sun as well as some human-sized furry wombats with them. ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ was a definite favourite and they played songs old and new, satisfying my windswept self who missed them at Reading.

Peace pleased the large crowd filling The Quarry, and Jamiroquai, the headliner, had it all with his backing singers, light up hat and feel-good set. But unfortunately, this was interrupted due to bad weather. For the time that he was on, he put the crowd on a high and rounded off the rollercoaster of a weekend.

Although good weather can’t be guaranteed for Y Not Festival, a range of incredible artists, delicious food, quirky activities such as a paint fight and my favourite ‘Toss a Turd at Trump’, and lot of dancing are all guaranteed. For this alone it is worth traveling to the unpredictable Peak District for a weekend to remember.


Katie Moncur

All Images courtesy of Katie Moncur. 

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