JACKS hit the road at the weekend and went down to Derbyshire for Y Not? Festival, boasting a stellar line-up of the best and newest indie acts around.
After a controversial first day, Y Not? looked to be off to a better start, with the sun already shining down on the muddy fields of Pikehall. On a day were new meets legends, Y Not? surely looked set to get back on track with an exciting line-up at the half way point of the festival.
The marquee that sheltered The Big Gin Stage was gone and while the site was still a giant mud bath, artists were at least able to play without restrictions. The first band we caught to take advantage of this were Outlya.
The trio’s set was filled with their uplifting indie-pop tunes similar to Bastille. Their performance showed they were truly happy to have an opportunity to be on the main stage at Y Not?. The breathless set was littered with opportunities to sing along and even if you didn’t want to, it was refreshing to just watch a band enjoy themselves and give people a chance to dance.
A band that’s been championed across Liverpool for some time now, Clean Cut Kid are a band with catchy riffs, high energy and overall great songs. Their performance on The Big Gin Stage was just what the doctor ordered. With sing out loud songs such as ‘Pick Me Up‘ and ‘Vitamin C‘, even those finding out who Clean Cut Kid are were quickly jumping up and down and getting lost in the feel-good vibes.
The unique Scouse accent wasn’t an issue for those in the muddy field of Pikehall, something frontman Mile Halls, checked at the halfway mark, pointing out how strong his accent was. Spirits were high, which could be seen in the smiles of those on stage and those dancing from the barrier to the back. A midday slot is what Clean Cut Kid had but with the ability they have to turn the sternest of frowns upside down with songs like ‘Leaving You Behind‘, it won’t be long before they find themselves with a later slot on main stages.
Declan McKenna’s short career has been like a whirlwind, the teenager was propelled to fame with his hit ‘Brazil‘ at the age of 16 and signed to Columbia Records. Two years on, he’s covering every festival in sight from Benicassim to Lollapalooza and along the way, Y Not? Festival.
His charismatic on-stage persona adds to the delightful music he’s unleashed via his debut album What Do You Think About the Car? Unable to contain himself to one spot for more than a few seconds, Declan poured his heart out either by word or guitar and it was spectacular.
His album’s been out two weeks now and Y Not? was his last performance on English soil before heading Stateside. It was a great send off as he play-fought like puppies with his guitarist and bassist, walked along the barrier strumming his guitar and ending his set nose-diving into the adoring crowd. With hits like ‘Isombard‘, ‘Paracetamol‘ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home‘ all getting played out, his performance on day two of Y Not? so badly helped make up for a bittersweet opening day.
We pulled ourselves away (literally from the mud) from The Big Gin Stage and made the gruelling trek to The Giant Squid Stage to catch Black Foxxes but only upon arrival it turned out they had to cancel and King No-One filled in after losing their slot yesterday on The Big Gin Stage. However, it took so long due to such muddy conditions, to get there that when entering the marquee, King No-One were leaving. Making sure it weren’t a wasted journey, The Giant Squid Stage had a tasty back-to-back line up of Kagoule followed by Blaenavon.
The dark trio that form Kagoule, put on an intense show. Their sound swarmed the marquee with lyrics that you’d deem positive while backed by music with a darker edge. Similar to Wolf Alice, their set was littered with hard-hitting instrumentals and ground-vibrating bass lines. With their second album still in the works, we were treated to new songs as well as the ones from their debut Urth, that’s gained them their dedicated fanbase.
Another trio Blaenavon, kept the adrenaline rushing mood going as they blew the packed marquee away with songs from their debut album That’s Your Lot. Clearly a must see for a lot of people on the Saturday at Y Not?, the atmosphere was electric as they stormed through their short set. With frontman Ben Gregory, captivating the crowd as he sang ‘My Bark Is Your Bite‘ and ‘Let’s Pray‘, men actually started shouting their phone number to him. Not quite “rock-‘n’-roll-throw-your-bra-on-stage” but it shows that Blaenavon had swooned the crowd within just two songs.
Their breathless set came to an explosive end with ‘Prague ’99‘, where it climaxed with a mammoth extended instrumental as the passion of the song overwhelmed Gregory, who submersed himself in the crowd with a grin and guitar in hand while everyone else further back absorbed the energy and thrashed around. The enlightening indie-rock from the Hampshire trio was warming and what was a difficult venture to the Giant Squid Stage was made totally worth it by the strike of the last chord of their set.
If you haven’t seen Blaenavon in action yet, be sure to catch their electric performance when they play at Liverpool’s Arts Club on November 29th. You won’t be sorry.
When you think about it, it’s mad to think that Jake Bugg stormed on to the scene over five years ago now, with the release of ‘Lightning Bolt‘. The 23-year-old has since released a further two albums and an EP. Even though his songs are fast-paced and thrilling, it’s a shame that in these five years where he’s gone all over the world, the Nottingham man still doesn’t seem to provide much of a stage presence.
While the popular songs you’d expect to see from a Jake Bugg show were played out, little interaction with the crowd and ploughing through his setlist barely moving from the spot, didn’t come as surprise when looking around to see the younger people of the crowd more entertained at taking selfies and talking.
The music sounds good but when live, surely it doesn’t take much to give a bit more to make it memorable, otherwise what’s to stop someone from just listening on their phone if it’s going to be the same but just louder live?
Y Not? had gone the entire day without a drop of rain and with the adjustment on The Big Gin Stage bringing all the acts forward, it meant Stereophonics would headline and hopefully round out day two rain-free.
The Welsh veterans put on a career-spanning set with tracks from their debut album Word Gets Around, which turns 20 this year, right up to the newly announced record Scream Above The Sounds, due out later this year. Hopefully Jake Bugg watched on because he would’ve learned a lot from Stereophonics in how to put on a show.
Opening with an instant classic ‘C’est La Vie‘, the tone was set and they never looked back. It was one giant sing-a-long that was stunning from start to end. Throughout, there were no concerns about slipping in mud or wether the rain would return, the focus was fixed on The Big Gin Stage as Stereophonics took us on a journey through their 20-year spanning discography.
At the time no one knew that they were watching the final headliners of Y Not? but it was a spine-tingling end as ‘Dakota‘ invoked a passionate sing-a-long completed with fireworks lighting up the night sky as the line “you made me feel like the one” deafeningly echoed around Pikehall.
Stereophonics showed exactly why they still top festival line-ups merging classics with the new and with new single ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You‘ added to the setlist, it seems that the band aren’t even close to stopping anytime soon.
With the likes of Example and Idris Elba performing afterwards on The Quarry stage, it was a tough call to not venture more but after Stereophonics ended the rain started and the conditions intensified. With little done after day one to ease the conditions on the ground for those at Y Not?, it was becoming treacherous around the arenas.
Heading back to the tent was like watching plungers with the mud gripping feet and making it difficult to walk. People were either struggling to raise their legs off the ground to walk or were like Bambi on ice. It’s a surprise that there’s been no reports of serious injuries as conditions were so bad. With no canvassing laid down to ease walking to and from campsites, any footwear wasn’t enough to help people trudge through the fields of Pikehall.
It was no surprise to be woken on the final day to the sound of a steward with a megaphone directing people off the campsite after the “adverse weather conditions” meant the festival had been brought to an early end.
Y Not? sold out well in advance but after cancellations on day one, little done to prepare for the possibility of heavy rain in England and cancelling the final day, it’s going to take a mammoth line-up in 2018 to make up for the errors of this year’s festival.