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Festival Coverage: Y-Not Festival 2018

  • Published in Live

With last year’s festival leaving little more than a bad taste in the mouths of returning regulars and festival virgins, organisers of this year’s Y-Not Festival needed to not only pull out all the stops in order to make it memorable, but address at the litany of issues that surrounded last year’s ill-fated iteration.

Though many people assumed, and espoused, that 2017 was the final nail in the festival’s coffin, either for them personally, or for the event as a whole, organisers promised profusely in the lead up to this year’s festival that last year’s shitshow wasn’t going to repeat itself.

Thankfully, much of those promises came to fruition, and with the exception of bouts of bad weather that evoked strong feels of déjà vu, 2018 was, by and large, a success.

Even seconds after arriving at the festival site, it’s clear that improvements have been made. Temporary roads/walkways have been installed across the drop-off point, and security seem thorough but friendly – a welcome change from last year’s arrogance and indifference.

Once inside, the first noticeable change is just how different the layout is to previous years. Gone are the separate areas that provided their own personalities but stymied the festivals geographic flow. Instead the main stage sits at the bottom of a hill, in the centre of the arena, with other stages, bars and the usual festival miscellany scattered around the outside.  

The result is a festival that flows much better and has the added advantage of a gentle slope providing good visibility towards the Main Stage, often regardless of where you’re stood. The acoustics also carry far better than previous years, something we found out on Thursday Night as Razorlight took to the Main Stage to entertain those of us eager to kickstart the weekend early.

Friday is where the change in atmosphere, at least compared to last year, is most noticeable. Spirits are both high and flowing from the outset. And where last year’s atmosphere harboured an edge that was difficult to put your finger on, this year feels more in keeping with the “small, fresh and loud” tagline of previous years.

Exacerbated by the heat, it doesn’t take long for true festival merriment to take hold, as the beers start to kick in and Nottingham’s Vega Bay take to the quarry stage. With a set of easy going indie-pop that perfectly matches the weather, it’s the ideal way of start proceedings.

Elsewhere across the weekend, the likes of The Lancashire Hotpots, Everly Pregnant Brothers and Beans On Toast return for their annual appearances, amusing and entertaining crowds across Friday and Saturday respectively. And headline appearances from The Libertines, who start shaky but end on a massive high, and Catfish And The Bottlemen prove that indie is still alive and kicking, even if it is starting to go grey.

Of course, Y-Not’s always been about offering a platform for up and coming bands, with stages like The Allotment devoted to just that. This year is no different. And bands on the cusp of breaking such as DECO, No Hot Ashes and Sheafs all proving that while indie royalty might be greying, they’ll always be fresh-faced new blood jostling for their crown.

It wouldn’t be Y-Not, nor would it be the Peak District, without howling wind and sideways rain, and Saturday and Sunday definitely don’t disappoint. And though tents, tshirts, jeans and just about everything else might be dampened, spirits certainly aren’t. And while Y-Not may not feel like the same convivial festival it once was, it’s still family-friendly and good natured, and most importantly, more than made amends for the year before. 

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Bearded Theory - Day Three

  • Published in Live

 

So, having survived the ordeal of the lightning, I rise like Odysseus into baking sunshine for the last day of Bearded Theory. The drainage here is excellent. You’d hardly know it had even rained. In fact, my neighbour slept through it, the bastard! Donning slightly damp boots, we head to the arena to recharge, both literally and figuratively. After dropping my battery pack at the recharge station and getting a bacon roll from Duck Burgers, I’m feeling almost normal again. The festival site could use better signage but credit where it’s due, its day three and I have yet to queue for a toilet or find one that was dirty or smelly. It sounds like a small thing but it’s quite an achievement, well done Bearded Theory.

Sheafs invite the early risers to step a little closer. The band have just arrived from Sheffield and look noticeably fresher than the assembled throng. The stage is lined with vintage portable TVs and signs reading “This is not a protest” as the rock quintet launch into ‘You’re So Fickle’. Front man Lawrence climbs down into the pit to greet the front row during ‘My Pollution’. He already looks like a rock star with his floppy hair, open shirt and white half moon tambourine. He even scales the barrier to get amongst the crowd and whip them up during ‘I Wanna Show You What I Mean’. Good stuff!

There’s a lot of dadrock on the main stage this afternoon and nothing worth writing home about so I head over to the Showcase stage where a very pleasant group of milquetoast youngsters are playing inoffensive indie. A poorly chosen cover of ‘Love Is All Around’ thins out the crowd as people start walking away shaking their heads.

But next up are Cohesion. The long hair, tattoos, and black face paint suggest a metal band. They are more accessible than their appearance indicates. The guitars are ‘90s grunge, and the melodic vocals are positioned somewhere between Ricky Warwick and Disturbed. Nonetheless, the tunes are good, the rhythms tight, and the rock is hard. They aren’t afraid to groove either. Even the unfashionable guitar solos sound good. Cohesion may be on the poppier end of the metal spectrum, but they are exactly what this Sunday afternoon needs.

After bravely hiding away from another thunderstorm, I expect to have missed most of Jake Bugg but his set has sensibly been held back until the storm passes. I’ve managed to miss him at a handful of other festivals, so I’m delighted to finally get to see him live. I haven’t heard the new album yet apart from the surprisingly good duet with Noah Cyrus. Backed with a three piece band, he sounds uncannily like Lee Mavers when he sings, but his speaking voice could hardly be more different. The set leans heavily on his early material, with the new tunes scattered between the likes of ‘Taste It’ and ‘Slumville Sunrise’. The recent songs stand out; a bit grandiose and overblown. The country aspect of the music is more pronounced live than it is on record, as is Bugg’s ability to shred on his guitar. He even throws in a Richie Havens cover. The weather has necessitated a truncated set, but what has been lost in quantity is made up for by the quality of the songs. A 40 minute greatest hits set; it would be greedy to ask for more than that.

And that’s that for Bearded Theory 2018. The music was great. The weather was crap but that can’t be helped. Catton Hall makes for a great venue, and the food & drink stalls were many and varied. There is room for improvement in some minor aspects and the organisers are very open to suggestions from festival-goers.  For a festival on this scale to retain their independent approach and BYOB policy is, increasingly, a rarity. In the absence of Glastonbury this year, Bearded Theory was a fine alternative.

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