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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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Way Out West — Day Two

  • Published in Live

 

We kick off our second day at the festival by checking out José González on the Höjden stage. It’s unsurprising that the stage area is absolutely packed, given the fact that he’s one of Gothenburg’s own, and security shut it down within twenty minutes because it’s at full capacity. It’s a great, understated performance and a gentle start to ease us into the day ahead.

Arguably the best gig of the day happens at the Linné tent, where Kamasi Washington takes to the stage. It’s a brilliant set and Kamasi and his band are on top form, oozing musicality, as they crack through tracks from The Epic. With such superlative musicians on stage, it’s no surprise that the crowd is roaring by the time they’re halfway through the opening track. It’s a jazzy, bluesy, souly, funk-shake, shot through with African rhythms. We drink it up. Afterwards, we go from one epic performance to another. By the time Grace Jones makes her appearance, the skies have opened and the festival site’s slowly being transformed into a quagmire. We barely notice the rain when she takes the stage: skulking out wearing a black cloak and a gold skull headpiece with a crown of black feathers. On losing the cloak and putting on a golden headdress, we discover that she’s covered in tribal body paint. She is fierce, commanding and completely compelling.

When The Tallest Man On Earth takes the stage he is genuinely delighted to see such a huge crowd waiting, given the fact that we’re all in danger of being washed away by the rain. He’s as great a stage presence as ever without needing any gimmicks: the songs fly on their own. His most recent album Dark Bird is Home saw him embracing a full-band sound and these tracks, combined with reworked tracks from his earlier albums come across really well despite the fact that the band are playing borrowed instruments after their kit got lost on a plane. We love the new versions of 'Wind and Walls' and '1904' and 'The Wild Hunt', arranged for guitar, pedal steel and violin, is something really special. He abandons the band for some of the set, playing some earlier tracks in their original arrangements. 'Love is All' and 'The Gardner’ prove that Kristian Matsson is at his best with just his vocals and guitar.

Based on my previous experiences with The Libertines, where the gigs were either blisteringly good or cancelled, it’s 50/50 as to whether they’ll pull of their first performance in Sweden in twelve years. By the time they take the stage, it’s public knowledge that Pete wasn’t even in Sweden when they were due to play the day before. Now he’s here, but he’s pallid and woozy and looks like he’s just back from a date with Gazza, circa 2014. Things get off to a good start with 'The Delaney', mainly because it’s nostalgia in overdrive, as Pete and Carl appear on the stage in their scarlet guardsman jackets. Appearance-wise, it looks just like the old days. Performance-wise, it’s just like the old days too: pretty shambolic in parts with moments of brilliance where the band really gets it together and are on top form.  After a great start, the set goes awry and by the time they get to 'What Katie Did' the cracks really start to show. Carl’s been looking wary all through the set and there’s a moment where he seems to have to chivvy Pete along, Gary’s looking wary too while working overtime on the drums to keep the songs on track and John is getting the job done with aplomb but looks like he’s quietly fuming. At one point, Pete gets so frustrated that he throws his guitar into the crowd and his guitar tech has to scramble out to get it back. It’s a shame that, on some of the band’s best tracks like 'Can’t Stand Me Know', the guitars are all chord work and really scrappy. As the set nears its end, though, they really get it together. 'Vertigo', 'Death on the Stairs' and 'Time for Heroes' are absolutely smashing and show that The Libertines can still really deliver. The set rounds off with 'The Good Old Days', 'Up The Bracket' and 'Don’t Look Back into the Sun', and the crowd is delighted. Like previous Libertines gigs, the set is brilliant and frustrating in almost equal measure but still worth seeing. Carl and Pete still have great, fractious chemistry but they can’t hold the band together. It’s time we got over idolising the leading men and gave the Gary and John the credit they deserve for being the ones who work overtime to hold the band’s live performances together. It’s no wonder that Gary whips his top off and hops about the stage at the end of the set.

PJ Harvey’s headline slot is both austere and magnificent. She comes onstage flanked by men in grey suits, chanting, swathed in indigo and carrying a saxophone. We can’t take our eyes off her. She plays most of her most recent album, the monumental The Hope Six Demolition Project, some tracks from Let England Shake and it’s only after over an hour that the 90s classics get an airing. By the time the lights finally go out, we feel like we’ve just witnessed something monumental. 

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