Four seasons in one festival at Y Not 2013

65 Days of Static

65 Days Of Static

Let me start by assuring you that this article will not only be about weather. Honestly. There will be some musical content too, and perhaps the odd keenly observed insight into the modern festival experience (no promises), but there will be quite a lot about weather. There is good reason for this, for the tree-frog crazy weather at this year’s Y Not Festival was an integral part of the experience.

We arrived on the Thursday, (the hottest day of the year so far) and spent a couple of hours of half-heartedly plotting our manoeuvres for the weekend.  The honour of kicking proceedings off this year went to Worcester funksters Jasper in the Company of Others. With energy as powerful as the evening UV rays slowly hog-roasting the acres of exposed pale British flesh, JITCOO’s funshine proved itself the ideal opening ceremony. The rest of Thursday night was filled with the crazy ska-scat-skiffle skills of Thrill Collins, my highlight of that set being an extraordinary journey through the history of chart ragga and rap. Some of the entertainment value stemmed from the fact that many of the audience dancing gamely for the duration of the ten minute tune were probably not born when these songs were in the charts, it was a disco of lost irony.

So we were off to a good start; we knew our way around, we knew which ciders we liked and we’d already sussed which people were there for the music and which ones were there for a catwalk show; seriously, every single teenage girl there was wearing denim shorts so tiny they were practically thongs. Everywhere you looked there was a sea of pimply white arse. If I wanted to spend my summer looking at that sort of thing I’d turn the filters off on my computer. Not that I am picking on the females…here’s a public information broadcast for teenage lads, especially those in bands: If you want to stand out from the crowd, be remembered, make an impact etc. then may I humbly suggest you stop all going to the same hairdresser. Anyway, we were officially (and literally) warmed up and ready for full steam ahead. Little did we know what the next day would bring…

The first band we managed to catch was The Virginmarys, a handsome bunch who impressed in a ‘slightly too early in the day for this much shouting’ sort of a way. The first couple of tracks were cracking, particularly ‘Bang Bang Bang’, but after that, the sheer noise and the drizzle in the air caused us to wander off. Happily we wandered wisely, finding ourselves in The Allotment in time to catch the end of Eva Plays Dead. I have been unkind about this lot in the past, when they were still playing under the name Bury the Ladybird, but with the name change has come an attitude shift from the local sleaze rock scamps. Although still a tad affected onstage, they seemed to be actually having fun, which translated easily to the crowd.

On our return to the main stage we were encountered by Dutch Uncles, one of the many bands on that weekend direct from the BBC Radio 6 Music playlist. Now maybe I wasn’t paying proper attention, or am simply missing the hipster part of the brain that allows you go wappy about this kind of thing, but to me they sounded like a mixture of David Bowie circa Labyrinth and Hot Chip, but limper, and even more creepy.

Dutch Uncles

The rockabilly charms of Willy Moon followed, opening with Rudy Toombs’ ‘I’m Shakin’’ which got the audience hopping. Unfortunately Mr Moon only managed to get through one more song before things started to go a teeny bit pear shaped for the festival…..

The power died on the main stage and staff began running around backstage like coked-up puppies in an all-fire rush to rectify the problem. Then the spiteful spirits of the sky decided now would be the perfect time for a bit of thunder and lightning (perhaps they caught the Dutch Uncles set)…….20 minutes later the main stage was up and running again and “surprise guests” Reverend and the Makers were as laddishly entertaining as ever, despite some overly dramatic security vs. flare throwing eejits action early in the set.

Our next stop was the cosy hayseed shelter of the Hog & Barrel tent to catch the stripped back swinging blues of Three Minute Heist. The place was pleasantly packed despite ‘bigger names’ gracing other stages, and this acoustic performance, with double bass, Cajon and harmonica filling the air with sweet sounds was almost enough to drive the cider breath right out of the tent altogether. After some slightly damp bopping we moseyed back to the main stage to catch the Mystery Jets. Their amiable strumfest was just getting into full swing when the apparently Indie-hating Gods flung all the shit they had directly at the fan. Just fifteen minutes into the set a monstrous electrical storm exploded overhead, the band announced they had been ordered to leave the stage and, quite frankly, everything went bat-shit crazy. We decided the safest place to be would be the car, balanced securely on four giant pieces of rubber.  The security guard on the gate (who quite clearly wanted his mum) however, was horrified by this idea, urging us instead to “stand in the middle of the field with our umbrellas”, which ranks up there as one of the worst pieces of advice I have ever been given. Ever.  Safely in the car and with no indication when or if the storm would pass and things would get up and running again, we decided to call it a night. In fact, to the credit of everyone at Y Not, they did get back on track, and subsequently we missed both Scroobius Pip and The Horrors, but from the safety and warmth of my bed, at that point, I cared not.


Saturday at Y Not was fancy dress day, this years’ theme being Super Heroes and there were some beauties to be seen. More Supermen, Spidermen and Batmen than you could shake a fanboy at but also a whole family in matching Incredibles outfits, Kevin Keegan, Jesus, an arks worth of animals, a giant pair of boobs and many many more. We decided we were ready to face the main stage, possibly a mistake as we got there in time for Swim Deep. Again, maybe this is due to a certain part of my brain not working properly, but it felt like being stuck in a giant lift with Indie flavoured muzak playing relentlessly and indistinguishably around me. We left. On to The Allotment, where a more lively brand of indie was kicking off with local big-wigs Whitemoor proving why they’ve been making waves recently, their synth/guitar brew quenching the sweaty fans with confidence and aplomb. The Saloon next for an extraordinary few minutes of high concept, epic storytelling prog guitar rock….acoustic style, from Emperor Chung. Fresh from Download Festival and in fine voice, this was probably one the most unusual performances of the weekend.

Emperor Chung

Next on our musical voyage was 65daysofstatic on the main stage, and I have to say I wasn’t sure how largely instrumental neuron-exploding electro-punk noise would go down with the mainstage Y Notters. I think perhaps the best way to describe the performance is in terms of the giants from the Roald Dahl classic The BFG. Bonecrunching bass, bloodbottling beats, fleshlumpeating fretwork, gizzardgulping grind but above all big…and friendly. Needless to say it went down well. A firm highlight.

Another highlight of the weekend came in the shape of Ash, thanks to whom I spent at least half an hour being 16 years old again (sans the angst). They went through all the hits, and the whole crowd had a jolly good sing-along. ‘Girl from Mars’ was particularly poignant for me, which took me by surprise, and the performance was faultless, proving there is a fair amount of funk in the old fox yet.

Last was a rather disappointing showing from The Cribs. I have to say, they didn’t really seem like their hearts were in it, not that the crowd seemed to notice much, although Ash’s reception was stronger, and the tetchy guitar noise was accomplished but not as madly enjoyable as I had anticipated.


In some ways the whole weekend had been about the Sunday. This was the day that Electric 6 and The Darkness were playing. This was the day of anthems and camp and frivolity of the highest order. This was the day to say….”sparkly catsuit? Hell…Why not?”

We started our day in the best way we possibly could; watching King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys. These guys are described as a Y Not institution, playing year in, year out and drawing a formidable crowd to boot, their scintillating swing was the perfect hangover tonic for a bleary afternoon and soon enough there wasn’t a still foot in sight.

We watched The Joy Formidable, The Twang, We Were Promised Jet Packs and The Enemy. They were all fine. I honestly have little else to say. It was Indie of various shades, it was raining, people liked it. It was fine.

Electric 6

I do have more to say, however about the mighty Electric 6, not the first band of the weekend whose position at the festival raised eyebrows;  there was widespread opinion that the main stage would have perhaps been a better choice. The tent was swooningly packed, sweat running down the marquee walls and an ever so slightly nauseous excitement crackling through what passed for air. They were magnificent, and predictably, ‘Danger Danger’ and ‘GayBar’ caused nothing short of mass hysteria.

It was the end of the day, and the last act of the weekend for us, and it was the one we’d all been waiting for. After four days of watching bands from the side of the crowd, so as to observe their response as well as the onstage antics, and being a cool, uninvolved media type, I threw away my biro and charged headlong into the throng for this one. After a suitably Queen-esque intro, the band emerged in all their spandexed, moustachioed glory and within seconds had the thousands before them in the palms of their paws. It was indeed fun for all the family…if you’re from a particularly odd family that is, but among swirling rumours of rehab and arrogance and petulance, they came across as grounded, funny and even humble (in an outrageously camp way). When they announced their final song, admittedly I thought to myself  “right, I’ll shove off now, get out before the rush”, so I was making my way through the backstage area when much to my surprise, past me walked four large security types, each one with a member of The Darkness aloft on their shoulders. Needless to say I soon abandoned my plans for an early escape in favour of discovering what the bleedin’ hell was going on. I followed this odd procession through the press area and watched, opened mouthed as they walked directly into the crowd, instruments and all. Lord knows what happened to the security guards, but after about ten minutes, the band had managed to crowdsurf their way back to the stage, and proceeded to finish the song. Astonishing.

Summing up

So in summary, despite the nutjob weather, the Stepford teens and missing some acts we dearly wanted to see, I think I can safely say we had a storming (see what I did there?) time at Y Not 2013 and massive respect has to go to the organisers for battling through with (for the most part) smiles on their faces. The only question remaining… will they top it next year?

Photo credit: Cleo Kinsey-Lyons