Never heard of Tony Pikehall? Then you must never have come across Derbyshire’s Y Not festival. The elusive character; who announced the festival’s line up during a series of murder mystery videos back in January, was to be found hiding under some army netting behind a taped up portaloo for the duration of the weekend pointing curious Y Notters towards the festival’s first ever secret stage.
But mysterious characters and hidden DJ sets weren’t the only surprises Y Not had to offer this year. After winning Best Small Festival at the Festival Awards in 2012 the home grown Peak District event had to live up to its own reputation; but with roller discos, a drive-in movie tent complete with real cars and nearly as many real ale bars as stages the Y Not team certainly pulled it off once again.
For those keen enough to arrive a day early Nizlopi was the band to see. Although best, or more only, known for their 2006 JCB Song the duo proved their credibility as musicians rather than one trick ponies and determinedly played through their full set before giving into chants of ‘I’m Luke I’m five and my Dad’s Bruce Lee…’ and giving the Y Notters the hit they wanted.
Punters were hit with two surprises on Friday. The first being secret guests Reverend And The Makers turning up after weeks of speculation (including rumours of Eminem by some hopeful festival goers) to fill the early evening slot.
And the second surprise of the day was a huge electrical storm, which led to thousands of campers being evacuated to their tents and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip’s headline set being interrupted on The Quarry stage. The pair was mid way through an energy-fuelled romp of their best hip-hop inspired spoken word and electronica raps when the safety announcement came warning campers to find safety. Yet despite a somewhat soggy and confused crowd Pip threw himself whole heartedly into the throng and was crowd surfed out of the tent with an ever faithful surge of fans following in his wake; proving a little bit of lightening isn’t going to stop Y Not.
With the threat of an electrical storm way over the hills of the Peak District The Horrors closed Friday night with a somewhat shortened set of only seven songs, cutting newer numbers from the line up and flying through their best known tracks instead, thanking the audience for sticking out the weather and honoring their enthusiasm.
Saturday saw local lads Siblings open The Quarry with their Fleet Foxes come Vampire Weekend summery songs to an almost full tent, a sight for many Derbyshire bands over the weekend.
The huge turn out for local acts was a sign of how committed the Y Not team takes the talent closest to them, and how much their punters wants to experience the best of new bands. The Allotment Stage is dedicated to home grown musicians and brilliant bands, including Nottingham’s Kappa Gamma on the Saturday evening and The Hog and Barrel stage, which doubles up as a bar as well as a stage and sits on the edge of the site with hay bales for comfort, was the place to find the best of Derby’s acoustic artists. Soul and RnB collective Jamie Joseph entertained an early evening crowd with their chilled and catchy tracks whilst 18 year old Harriet played a lunchtime slot, charming the crowd with her incredible voice during a set of covers and originals.
The Y Not team does not only know the best of local talent but big names too, and The Cribs; despite playing in their typical ramshackle come rock and roll style, closed the Saturday to one of the biggest crowds the festival has seen in its eight year history.
Sunday was the day of rock for Y Not with punters ready to get their head banging on to The Darkness and Electric Six. The latter proved an anti-climax, in an over flowing tent you could have been fooled into thinking they would have been better on the festival’s Big Gin main stage but smashing through their hits ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘High Voltage’ early in their set suddenly saw the Detroit rockers playing their final few songs to a half empty tent instead of the spilling crowd they began with.
Following Electric Six, and closing The Quarry on a calm and relaxing note was Dry The River, who wowed an intimate crowd with their tight harmonies and beautiful lyrics during the perfect Sunday evening headline slot.
Strutting onto Y Not’s main stage, with lead singer Justin Hawkins donning a skin tight, chest revealing, stripy spandex all-in-one, Sunday headliners The Darkness arrived in the Peak District ready to smash it, and Y Not embraced the glam rockers with open arms. Hawkins owned the stage with rockstar prowess; bouncing, head standing and even ripping the crowd into deafening chants of ‘LOGOLOGOLOGO’, as one techie flipped and multiplied the band’s logo to make up for the lack of video projections on Y Not’s big screens. ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ saw mass moshing and screaming from a huge crowd of adoring fans of all ages, some only a few years older than the band’s decade long career. Launching into the crowd The Darkness travelled through their own mosh pit, leaving the stage abandoned during their final 10 minute long epic ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice’ and partying with their fans before taking back to the stage for one final bow.
Y Not brands itself as ‘Small. Fresh. Loud’ and with thunderstorms, rock legends and the best of local talent it certainly does everything it promises and more.