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Festival Preview: Y-Not Festival 2018

  • Published in Live

With last year’s festival leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many (and not just from the sea of mud they had to contend with) this year’s festival certainly seems to have a lot resting on it. In the organisers’ defence however, it seems already that no plight has fallen on deaf ears, and no complaint gone unacknowledged.

While Y-Not has grown substantially in recent year, shedding its tag line of ‘Small, Fresh and Loud’ in the process, the fact that the concerns and complaints of last year’s festival have seemingly been addressed suggest the festival still retains its original ethos as being entirely about the punters, rendering some last year’s backlash instantly moot. And though much of what was raised by attendees was certainly pertinent, the metaphorical deluge weathered by organisers following last year’s event was almost as bad that which forced the festival to be cancelled in the first place.

Of course, though change may be at the forefront of everyone’s mind as we approach this year’s festival, it would be remiss not to mention the positives that surround Y-Not year after year, and the reason people return, year after year.

Aside from your usual big name bands that grace the Main and Quarry stages, which this year includes the likes of The Libertines, Manic Street Preachers and Catfish and the Bottlemen, Y-Not has always championed unsigned bands and local talent, regularly partnering with the likes of UK promoters This Feeling as well as BIMM, giving punters the chance to catch the next big thing, before they blow up.

This year is no exception. The aforementioned This Feeling will take over The Allotment Stage, bringing with them underground heroes in the form of No Hot Ashes, Proletariat, Vida and Bang Bang Romeo. And though many festivals these days offer up a taste of the ‘unsigned’, the intimate surroundings of Y-Not means there’s every chance you could be literally rubbing shoulders with the next big thing while watching the current!

While music obviously plays a huge part of the weekend, Y-Not’s always been touted as a family-friendly festival, with plenty to do for everyone across the course of the weekend. Not much seems too have changed in that respect, and if it has, it’s certainly for the better. With the Octopuses’ Garden area keeping young ‘uns occupied with workshops and games inside the arena itself as per usual, the main addition to this side of things is the activities taking place in the morning over in the Family Campsite. And though little has been revealed yet as to what this side of things entails, you can bet it will be more fun for kids than sitting around and waiting for the arena to open!

Easily one of best festivals of its size in the UK, and one with its heart in the right place, anyone stubborn enough to not give the festival another go after one bad year seriously needs to have a word with themselves. See you there!

You can find more information about the festival here.

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Festival Coverage: Y-Not 2015 - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Though Sunday starts much like Saturday, an overcast gloom shrouding the festival site, the clouds soon dissipate and we find ourselves sticky with sun-cream and sweat and in front of the Main Stage early in order to catch Bedforshire's CC Smugglers, a six-piece band who make “original music from nostalgic influences”. They may not be our usual fare, and had we caught them in a different environment our opinions might be somewhat different, but for an opening, their swing/jazz/blues combination makes for a gentle beginning to the final day. That doesn't mean to say that the band lack any energy mind you, they clearly thrive on a sense of traditional band camaraderie, and though they're in no way unique, they're delightfully inoffensive and prove danceable enough to get a few pockets of the early crowd jiving.

Buzz-band Blossoms are next up, and following a hasty half hour taking down the tent we return to the Main Stage with the niggling feeling that reality soon beckons and work will rear its ugly head. Somewhat fitting then, that the band hail from our home-town and serve as an accidental reminder that there is a world outside of the festival bubble. A shame, really. Unfortunately whilst the band are one of Stockport's most-talked about acts, their set leaves something to be desired; elements of lite-psych are interspersed with '60s pop melodies and sleazy guitar lines, and whilst no-one can argue against their clear musicality, no-one can argue about their lack of originality, either.

Over to the Quarry for a final time this year, we catch the new iteration of Solemn Sun. Formerly known as Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, the band gave their sound a make-over last year and have left behind their folky musings in favour of something heavier, darker and a hell of a lot different. Having seen the early iteration of the band support last year's headliner Frank Turner the change is immediately obvious, both in band and crowd. The folk punk of previous releases completely done away with, the set does feel a little flat after several tracks, but one can't begrudge a band for a change in direction and ultimately they'll probably fair better under this guise than their previous.

Back over at the Main Stage, Y-Not faithfuls King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys provide a much larger crowd with the day's second helping of swing, jazz and blues, keeping everyone dancing despite the heat, whilst neo-folk artist Rhodes brings the temperature back down with his chilly and atmospheric compositions.

As evening sets in, so does the heavy heart knowing full well this will be our last festival of the year, fortunately Augustines are on hand to boost spirits if only temporarily, and though their set feels somewhat short (six tracks in 45 minutes) tracks like 'Book of James' and 'Nothing to Lose But Your Head' seem as if they were written purely to be played tonight. Having seen the band previously, on an albeit much smaller stage, my expectations were raised fairly high, but with the band's most recent material seeing them foray in to the realms of stadium rock, it seems only fitting that they've graduated from a small tent at Leeds Festival to the much larger Main Stage here at Y-Not.

Arguably however, it's the double-header of Johnny Marr & Primal Scream that people have been most excited for over the weekend, and their heading of the final evening serves as reminder as to just how much organisers have pulled out all the stops for this year's tenth anniversary celebrations.

The former takes to the stage to huge applause, launching immediately in to 'The Right Thing Right' before the first Smiths cover of the evening appears in the form of 'Panic', and though the vocals might not be as unmistakable as Morrissey's, there's still something about Marr's that suit the jangle of guitar perfectly. Others come in the form of The Crickets' much-covered 'I Fought the Law' and Electronic's 'Getting Away With It', but it's the excellent closing track of 'There is A Light That Never Goes Out' that provides revellers with yet another classic festival moment.

With evening falling and everyone in high spirits, it's of little surprise that Primal Scream, like Basement Jaxx yesterday, perpetuate a party vibe that's difficult to shake off long after we've left. That said, their set is backboned by material from 2000s XTRMNTR, arguably the point the band's narratives became more politicised. Fitting then, given UK's current political climate but it's the likes of 'Rocks' and 'Country Girl' which provide the loudest sing-alongs of the day and perhaps even the festival, giving the most fair-weather fans something to dance to.

It's been eleven years since the first iteration of the festival, and ten years since it was opened to the public, and in that time it's progressed from an overspill of a house-party in to what is probably the UK's best small-to-medium sized festival. It may not have the same size headliners as the likes of Reading and Leeds or Glastonbury, but it has a special kind of allure that makes it feel both boutique and bigger than it actually is. And though you may not be familiar with every band you see, you can guarantee that you'll find at least one band you go home loving.

Until next time Y-Not, providing, of course, you'll still have us.

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