Y Not Festival 2016 review

Ben Smith was caught in the spirited atmosphere of Y Not Festival over the weekend.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 2nd Aug 2016

Image: Y Not Festival

During Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds marquee Saturday night set, he impishly questioned "Is this the first year it's been running?" Indeed the festival was celebrating its 11th year, and it was a triumphant one at that.

You very much got the sense that it was born out of a bunch of pals asking exactly 'why not' just hold a festival on a big stretch of the Derbyshire Dales? And the story kind of goes that it was. 

Attracting headliners like Noel Gallagher, Madness and Editors is a testament to the festival's evolution, but it was the spirit of the place that no doubt hooks in repeat customers.

At one point on the Saturday afternoon Manchester band Cabbage were plugging a witty assault of post-punk to a packed out Jack Rocks tent; over our shoulder a paint powder fight erupted at the point of the huge Hollywood style Y Not letters. It was a beautiful contrast that encapsulated the integration of multiple interests into one festival.

Ultimately the pull of any four day music pillage is the liberating nature of it all. Fathers were united by The Lancashire Hotpots doing the 'Dad dance', sleazy jaunt The Neon Coconut offered up daily Tarantino Disco and just across the road Club Malibu enforced a music policy of strictly disco cheese for revelers to let loose. 

Within the border of just about any eaterie you could wish for and bars that served up cocktails and real ales, attractions gravitated around a quintessentially British helter skelter.

Image: Y Not Festival

These included a silent disco, neon roller-blading, a cosy home-cinema and a sublimely named shisha hang-out called 'Smoky Tentacles'. A Saloon Bar complete with swinging doors made for another quirk, with a full programme of americana music hosted in its confines.

The Cribs Ryan Jarman clearly became lost in it all when exclaiming, "We're from Wakefield, I think" during a major set on the Friday night. A no show from Kelis beforehand was quickly rectified by Everything Everything plying the main stage with a tonic of wonky pop. 

Independent music is as equally if not more a vital cog to the festival. The Giant Squid stage harbored acts of this strain throughout the weekend.

Eagulls were the highlight of these quarters. Lead singer George Mitchell was as magnetizing as ever; he swigged a bottle of red while holding a mic to an ambient cassette player between each of their howled, brooding numbers.   

The Jack Rocks tent powered by indie rock authority This Feeling was also buzzing throughout the weekend. Flanked by two giant Jack Daniel bottle chandeliers, it housed  talking points such as Glasgow's Holy Esque sounding huge; a raucous headline performance from Black Honey and the lead singers of kaleidoscopic rockers White Room and the aforementioned Cabbage swinging from the stage lighting.

The tent was very much the beating heart of the festival for many and even garnered a recommendation from Gallagher himself.


Before the weekend's primary attraction, Eliza and The Bear's joyous set-list glinted in the mid-afternoon sun and Catfish and The Bottlemen justified their headliner worthiness by ramming home a buzzsaw performance within a sea of multi-colored flares. 

Noel couldn't have asked for a better flurry in the lead up to his slot. Opening with a gag he questioned, "Who's the best you've seen so far?" briefly paused and dropped the punchline "Right fucking answer, me". He waded through a familiar set in a black leather jacket flanked by an accompanying brass section.

Solo cuts like 'Riverman' heightened the atmosphere with its euphoric chorus while 'AKA What a Life!' and 'In The Heat Of The Moment' impacted with anthemic finesse. Teasing the audience Noel exclaimed, "this ones for the Oasis fans" before cheekily launching into 'You know we can't go back'. Only after did he introduce the acoustic version of 'Champagne Supernova'. 

A fantastic tribute to Caroline Mulhern was also played out in 'Half The World Away' and Noel introduced a more reclined take on 'Wonderwall'. While the Oasis icon naturally came as a huge drawer, sister stage The Quarry was another bulging spectacle across the weekend.

Craig Charles' Friday night spin was relocated there due to phenomenal demand. Slinging disco grooves in a cowboy hat, he attracted swarms of passing punters as the set jived on. Similarly if you didn't happen to the tent for DJ Fresh then you certainly heard it booming across the campsite.

However if we're talking about splitting at the seams, Blossoms could've inhabited the gaping tent three times over. The jangling synth riff of 'Charlemagne' most memorably prompted a panning snapshot of people hoisted on shoulders and arms wildly flailing in the air. 

Things are happening for the Stockport band and this indicated they share a similar allure to Y Not in that they aren't restricted to an audience.  

It was a fitting end to a festival which puts an onus on independence and caters for the discerning music head right on through to a young family seeking a weekend retreat.      

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Like this? Read our Bluedot Festival 2016 review

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