With a lot of people feeling that the bigger British festivals have lost their way in the mists of corporate sponsorship and skyrocketing prices the smaller festivals of this land are coming into their own. And not just with the punters either, many of the best and brightest acts are also plumping for the less cynical and money-grabbing events of the summer.
At less than £80 a ticket including camping, and with shuttle buses laid on from nearby cities, Y Not is certainly at the more affordable end of the festival scene, and because of this, and because of its dedication to local and unsigned bands, it does attract quite a young crowd on the whole. In many ways it’s a teething festival for kids who will go on to frequent those bigger and more expensive ones in the future, when they have developed more of a sense of identity. Because of this the vibe is quite hectic, but it’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, even when you’re as haggard and world-weary as me. On site there is a helter-skelter, dodgems, a rollerdisco and a beach bar complete with sand and deck chairs and this element is clearly aimed at the more youthful attendees. However, there is also a cabaret tent, a reggae tent and an awesomely cool 50’s bar (where I will be ensconced during any musical lulls) which appeal to the more mature. There are the obligatory food and merch stalls and the circus performances dotted about, and the press releases I have received claim there will be a few big surprises too, whatever that means. Saturday at Y Not is fancy dress day (optional thankfully) and this year the theme is superheroes, now whether you think this is ridiculous or jolly good fun indeed, it does add a certain uplift to the day when traditionally people tend to start lagging a little.
Nestled in the hills of deepest Derbyshire, Y Not has been steadily evolving and expanding since 2005 and this year looks likely to be (excuse me while I heave out a cliché) bigger and better than ever. Last year I had the privilege of seeing some brilliant acts, Ghostpoet, Roots Manuva and Pulled Apart by Horses in particular were shining highlights. But for me the most enjoyable element of Y Not is wandering in and out The Allotment and The Hog & Barrel tents, discovering the cream of up and coming local talent. It’s the smaller acts that burn the brightest.
This year the line-up is pretty impressive by any standards, Y Not seem to specialise in a summery cocktail of the old-school spirit (Ash, The Darkness), the modern classic liquor (The Horrors, The Cribs) and the zing of citrusy right-nowness (Mallory Knox, The 1975.) Added to the mix there is the mint leaf of acts like Scroobius Pip and the ice and slice of the best of local music. There’s also a reggae tent, a cabaret tent, and all sorts of surprise ingredients too. It’s a heady blend.
On their site you can design your own timetable (a lovely feature), unfortunately when I tried there were too many band-clashes for me to complete it, but surely this is just testament to the goods on offer. Don’t be mistaken, this is not a ‘something for everyone’ festival. If you’re a hardcore techno, grime or metal head you may find yourself hard pushed to stay occupied for the whole weekend as this is solidly Indie and its surrounding ripples, and one of its major downfalls is it doesn’t offer the option of day tickets so it’s all or nothing. But for those going for the all, if you’re willing to snuffle for the truffles, there is a feast to be had.
For my part there a few acts I am intrigued by, a few I am excited by and a few I cannot wait to see. The Darkness should be good for a laugh, high camp entertainment is always a mood-booster, same goes for Electric Six. The Quarry stage has some treats in store with Scroobius Pip vs. Dan Le Sac, Deaf Havana and Dry the River headlining. I’ll be there with the proverbial jangly things attached for 65daysofstatic and Kids in Glass Houses, and will hopefully find time to poke my nose into The Virginmarys and Dutch Uncles too. On The Hog & Barrel stage, Friday night headliners Three Minute Heist are a must see as well as The Ornamental Gentleman on Sunday, and I wouldn’t say no to We Are The Ocean or The Twang either. Mostly though, I am looking forward to what I enjoyed the most last year; wandering aimlessly around the festival site, stumbling across bands I’ve never heard or never heard of and becoming an instant fan (case in point, Phantom Limb last year), that’s the real beauty of a small festival after all. Now, where did I put my giant Wonderwoman knickers……
Watch Y Not 2012 Highlights
Image credit: Big Dave Photography