By Charlotte Stones
I must admit, I was sceptical about the potential of a festival set in the rolling countryside of north Derbyshire; and in all honesty any of you that weren’t were lying. The 21st century concept of a festival seems to stamp on location in favour of cheap intoxication and an even cheaper line-up, then along comes Y not festival.
Sticking to the ideals; great music, gloriously serene setting and even an ‘exotic meat shack’ (it’s not what you’re thinking; honest to god it’s not). For such a small festival –by ‘small’ meaning even the short-sighted could successfully glance from one end to the other – boasting headliners such as Feeder and Maximo Park meant a crystal clear sense of excitement and anticipation among the masses, who donned their finest fancy dress.
Now when the time comes for a main stage performance from eclectic hipsters Dutch Uncles; themselves self-labelled ‘locals’ hailing from nearby Marple, the most divergent and disorienting thing was by no means lead singer Duncan Wallis’ non-standard dress sense, but the fact that they appeared to be playing to an ‘a-list’ (or didn’t even make the list) crowd including the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Bin Laden and Bananas in pyjamas. That alone provided the basis for a magical and impressive set that even managed to bring the sunshine out in full force, following a dismal and depressive morning. Given, this was largely aided by the crowd popularity of single ‘Cadenza’ sending the small crowd into a frenzy of dance, mirroring Wallis’ more than interesting moves.
I often wonder, why do some festivals feel the need to get some overly excited MC to introduce all the bands? In fact, we do have the stage times on our trusty lanyards, this time the festival ‘best friend’ with their integrated bottle openers. So… why?! Why subject a crowd full of youngsters, waiting eagerly for the on-stage arrival of Eastbourne’s rhythmical energy bombs YAAKS, to 20 minutes of awkward joke telling which provided one, yes ONE laugh worthy moment. Now to most of us it seems obvious, that when you ask a crowd of drunken youths what their favourite joke is, you’re destined for disaster. This was non-surprisingly the case when the only middle-aged man of the crowd, wearing a gold morph suit, snatched the microphone and screamed obscenities at the irritating MC, plunging the young crowd into a pool of laughter. Result. When the time came for YAAKS to take the stage, their glittering and dancey sound filled the already packed tent immediately, so too did Wolf Gang, who played the same stage later on in the day.
Despite the warmth in sound and sun felt in the earlier parts of the day, as time went on there was an overwhelming sense of bitterness, both in the air and audience. On first glance, the size of the crowd awaiting headliners Feeder seemed to clearly show their Derbyshire popularity. However, on further inspection it was evident that the main stage had become an escapist resort for the middle-aged masses, seeking shelter from ‘techno terrorist’ Beardyman, who was playing simultaneously on the 2nd stage. In the space of an hour the tone had changed. Gone were the moody and sexy beats of Londoners New Young Pony Club. Here it was. Annoying and whiney guitar intros; the type you can’t help but sing along to, as much as it makes you hate yourself for doing so.
As Sunday arrived, so did the hangovers; the ghosts of festivals past hanging over each and every one of the moping crowd. Now here’s for the ultimate hangover cure. Unexpected, but unbelievable. 5 words. ‘We are Sonic Boom Six’. Never did I ever consider these 5 words to have such an effect on an audience modelling themselves on the cast of the living the dead. All of a sudden, they were alive. No grotty festival goers in sight. A surge of people ran towards the stage, mainly young, showcasing their best skank to Manchester’s finest punk/ska. Thank god for that. And we were beginning to think we were in for a repeat of last night.
Mood swings galore. The buzz left among the crowd by Sonic Boom Six swiftly swept into the depths of anticipation for the thousands of Maximo Park fans, swamping the barrier, awaiting first glance of the north-east indie rockers. Sadly for them, they were still one band away. And to make things worse, that band was Viva Brother; apparently lad-rock Britpop, more wannabe, and no further than wannabe, blur. Surprisingly, the Y not crowd successfully endured a set of samey disappointing tunes, mainly due to a hefty concoction of excitement and cheap beer, with even more tanked up, costumed fans turning up towards the end of the set.
As headliners Maximo Park burst onto the stage and immediately into crowd pleaser and set opener ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’, the crowd go wild, more than wild. Straight off there are teens being pulled over the barrier, rife with the fear of suffocation.. And what for? You think. Why do these people place themselves in such a position that they risk injury? Is it really worth that? You’d think not, but as the set goes on your mind is changed, you suddenly become rowdy and want to join in with the tone-deaf style screaming to ‘Questing Not Coasting’ that the neighbouring clown is trying to teach you. It’s somehow enjoyable. Now that really is a successful headliner. It’s not about musical talent alone, though Maximo Park undoubtedly have a lot of that, it’s about losing your inhibitions, forgetting yourself and enjoying the moment. Come to think of it, will there be many other times you share a dance with Thatcher to ‘By The Monument’. I think not.
Previous opinions are often misconceived and in this case, it was no exception. There may have been personal disappointment with a few of the artists, but when is there not at a festival? Y not’s intimacy, friendliness and spark sets it aside from the rest, making it worthy of the annual visit so many of the crowd favour.