FESTIVAL REVIEW - Y Not Festival 2017

Bethan Shuff

After a glorious drive through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, we found ourselves wondering, ‘are we sure we’re in the right place? There doesn’t seem to be much traffic?’ we spoke too soon as we reached a long line of festival goers jumping out and doing laps of their cars in the standstill, people on foot getting there much quicker than those driving. A big blue tent and a sea of other colourful tents just visible a few miles down the road. We were definitely in the right place…nearly.

Once into Y Not, we were sent here, there and absolutely everywhere until we finally made it to the press office where we booked in before heading off to set up camp. We headed straight for the VIP area with hot showers and nice toilets, you can take a girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl. Tent up and raining in through the roof, we decided to use initiative and attempt the trusty home-waterproofing method of binbags!

The rain meant that there were some delays on the main stage and the acts wouldn’t be up and running for a while, and so it was off to grab the nicest cheesy chips I’ve ever had in my life with peri peri salt and gloopy liquid cheese and a cold can of Red Stripe.

The delays meant that the running order on the main stage went off schedule, and so we missed out on Sundara Karma’s short four song set, but managed to catch The Hunna who embraced the bad weather and kicked off their set with You and Me. For some of their fans, Y Not will have ben their first festival experience and The Hunna made it worth their while giving it 100% as the crowd sung the backing to Bonfire. 

We waded through the mud in search of The Quarry, where the big blue tent was packed and overflowing for Brummie four piece Jaws. It’s so difficult for a band to condense their catalogue into just a short half hour set, but Jaws managed to squeeze in Be Slowly, Cast, Gold and a few other fan favourites. If there were enough hours in the day, I’d have loved to see Think Too Much and Bad Company, half an hour just isn’t long enough!  

Music was coming from every stage, tent, stall and van, but only the sound of Clean Bandit could be heard throughout the entire campsite as they got through their set of chart toppers, their most recent single being Rockabye. Clean Bandit’s energetic pop set headlined the show as indie lads The Vaccines pulled out of the show due to the rain.

A wet, rainy night made way for a relatively sunny, but pretty muddy Saturday and everyone was heading straight through the barriers, arms in the air showing colourful wristbands. The Quarry was brimming with bright colours and glitter for Mr Motivator, who had been moved from the Main Stage so that they could set up the stage for the rest of the acts. Mr Motivator got us all energised and ready for the day with squats and lunges and telling us we are amazing specimens. I mean, it is pretty amazing how the human body will allow you to drink vodka for breakfast and not throw up in an exercise class. Feeling empowered after our stretching, our next exercise was getting through the mud, past the Y Not sign, which was now just the ‘not’ sign as someone had managed to rugby tackle the Y to the mud, and to the Main Stage.

Midlands band Deco kicked off the Main Stage antics with their electronic indie set. Frontman and Birthday Boy Max Kendall must have been chatting with Mr Motivator as he bounced around the stage with bags of energy for a groggy morning. The band offered a lucky fan the chance to win a free CD if they tweet the band, to which I imagine they were absolutely bombarded on social media as the crowd was already packed out by 12:30. 

A lot of the day was spent negotiating the mud, getting glittered up and scouting out waterproofs! Junk Manchester must have sold thousands of yellow rain macs (with matching trousers!) but more and more boxes of them were getting brought out of the van like a tardis! 
Later in the day we bagged ourselves a spot at the main stage for DMA’s set, I managed to hear Lay Down and Delete from the huge VIP Portaloo queue as only one toilet was open, but made it out alive for angsty punk duo Slaves. Who needs a full drum kit anyway? ‘F**k the high hat* they chanted, bashing the four-piece drum kit of cymbals, snare and floor tom as hard as humanly possible. Mosh pits erupted throughout the crowd as Slaves recruited more fans to their cult, hitting them square in the face with The Hunter.

Opening his set as main support on The Big Gin Main Stage was Jake Bugg with the song that made him famous – Two Fingers; Bugg has a cracking live voice identical to his records. He seamlessly switched between acoustic and electric guitars, playing tracks from all three of his incredibly diverse albums. Highlights of the set included Slumville Sunrise and Taste It with their upbeat chorus’, but slowing it down for Broken was absolutely beautiful with all arms in the air. He finished off with a cover of Back To My Roots by Richie Havens and finally, Lightning Bolt.

After Jake Bugg, the buzz at the Big Gin stage was growing in anticipation for Stereophonics, who had to bring their stage times forward to 8pm. Fainting just before Kelly Jones took to the stage meant I got a sneak peek at the set list in the medical room as well as a free mars bar before I could go and re-join the huge crowd for the opening number C’est la Vie. How such a huge set of lungs fit in such a small man, I’ll never know, but Jones’ voice projected across the field with an enormous amount of power. Stereophonics fans sung their hearts out to Have A Nice Day and Maybe Tomorrow before Kelly Jones tells us about how he used to listen to tapes in his bedroom, an played us a medley of his childhood favourites, including Highway to Hell. An emotional Graffiti On The Train was followed by Indian Summer, after which we were introduced to their latest release All In One Night, the first single from their 10th studio album out later this year. All In One Night is a more electronic number which has found its way onto radio stations in the past few weeks, making RadioX’s single of the week just two days after playing Y Not. A Thousand Trees turns 20 years old this year so it got a special little mention and spot in the set list, along with the punchy indie-rock track Bartender and The Thief and finally, everyone’s favourite summer song to lay back with your head on the grass – Dakota. Everyone had a dance and a cuddle with their mates as they reminisced previous summers and fond memories. Jones’ seemed to be waiting for something, looking up in the air mid-track… someone forgot to set the fireworks off; but we did eventually get a beautiful pyro display at the end of the track.

After the band had finished, people made their way back through the, yes, mud in the pitch black, some wandered off in search for more beers, others headed over to The Quarry for Lethal Bizzle and some headed back to suffering, wet tents to prepare, mentally and physically for Sunday.

Sunday morning came and we got ready, glittered up and headed towards the Rock and Roll camping field. Hundreds of people were packing up their tents and leaving, I assumed either due to not being able to hack the mud or because they only brought day tickets. When we arrived at my brother’s tent, he was packing up too… ‘what’s going on?’ ‘festival’s cancelled’. I thought he was joking. There had been no announcements, just a Facebook post and hearsay (which wasn’t much use to those with no signal or no battery) saying that due to adverse weather conditions, the rest of the festival was cancelled. We headed back to the other end of the site to pack up, still no officials or stewards in sight to announce the closure. We packed up our stuff and headed back to the carpark, which was a complete free-for-all as there were still no stewards to direct traffic or assist the cars stuck and wheel-spinning in the mud. Some cars were allowed to go left, but others not; and so we had an additional five mile round trip added onto the journey before hours of panicked, unorganised traffic.

Home safe and well with phones charged, we could finally read Y Not’s statement for closing the festival:...

"Unfortunately we’ve had to take the difficult decision to cancel Sunday due to the adverse weather conditions across the weekend, after consulting all the relevant authorities. The safety of our guests, performers and crew is our primary concern and the potential risk was too severe for Sunday to go ahead. We are very sorry for the disappointment and disruption caused to everyone who was looking forward to the final day of the festival. We understand that people will have questions about refunds. We will be giving all our guests further information about this over the coming days."

Y Not was a laugh whilst it lasted, with amazing food, class bands and lots of MUD. It’s a huge shame that the Sunday got cancelled, with acts like Maximo Park getting turned away at the gates, Two Door Cinema Club rumoured to have pulled out of the festival the previous day, a cancelled paint party and so much more that festivalers were looking forward to. Keep an eye out on the Y Not Facebook Page for more updates.