Y Not Festival started life in with a Derbyshire quarry full of friends, a truck load of a beer and an oversized lighting rig. Now in its 7th year, things keep getting bigger, with new stages and a larger site they played host to 8000 revellers over one long messy weekend.
BBC Introducing opens Friday with a showcase of new talent, of which the best way undoubtedly Leicesterband, By The Rivers. As sun streamed through the tent their laid back, rootsy reggae settles the crowd in as they sink their first beer of the day. After the disappointingly low-key mumblings of the hotly tipped FOE, Fixers sun-drenched harmonies come as a welcome surprise. Drawing focus towards the main (Big Gin) stage, ‘Iron Deer Dream’s dreamy psychedelic tones and rumbling synths make them a sleeper hit of this year’s festival.
If the main stage crowd ever needed a hero, King Charles longs to be that man. Bare-chested, pencil moustached and, well, pretty damn sexy, the crowd give a collective swoon as he struts along the stage to the clattering drums of ‘Lady Percy’. Lifting his arms and gesturing with characteristic dramatic flair, he coaxes us into the first dance. Then with the bright strains of ‘Love Lust’ gently humming in our ears the crowds disperse and head towards the tents. Most seem to end up at the Quarry where Little Comets are commanding their attention with every deft flick of their guitars. Filling the room with the happy cries of ‘Joanna’ we leave on a wave of happy delirium.
As hot acts of 2012 go, you can’t get much hotter than rapper, Ghostpoet aka Obaro Ejimiwe. Striding onto stage like a prize fighter before his next bout, his languid voice drifts through clouds of sweet smoke over shuffling dub-step beats. With the surprising poignancy of ‘Survive It’ he leans towards the crowd inviting them in, before snatching back the reigns for the slow-burning party anthem ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’. Despite being the worse for wear for rum, it’s a statuesque performance from one of this year’s brightest new stars.
After a night of rain the sun is resolutely shining so I don my wellies and head over to theOctopusesGardenfield. Kids bounce along a raucous sack race whilst the grown-ups enjoy a sneaky pint of ale at the Hog and Barrel, one of four onsite bars. Food wise, there is plenty for the meat eater, but very few veggie options, a fact I sincerely hope they will redress next year.
Saturday’s bands start off slowly with the melodic hum of The Rash. Their terrible name belies glorious 4-part harmonies worthy of Fleet Foxes and voraciously catchy afro-pop beats, the shimmering acoustic sway ‘Summers End’ is a definite festival highlight.
Past years have played host to acts as widespread as Beardy Man, Noah and the Whale and Danananackroyd, and this years Y Not line-up is more diverse than ever, with a new hardcore/rock stage, The Giant Squid and the inclusion of acts like Juan Zeleda. This Radio 2 friendly chap is touch Michael Buble, but once the crowd loosen up his high energy mix of jazz and lounge room blues fill the room with infectious happy vibes. King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys keep the good times flowing, now on their fourth festival appearance these big band maestros are the stuff of Y Not legend.
For those wanting to get in touch with their dark side there’s plenty on offer, Hawkeyes whip smart lyrics and shuddering guitars send them hurtling towards the crowd, before Turbowolf proceed to slay the Squid stage with their frenetic mix of guttural riffs and adrenaline fuelled drums. Looking like a metal Frank Zappa singer Chris Georgiadis shoots around in a blur of hair and paisley. Completely disorientating and utterly brilliant.
The room is humming in anticipation of tonight’s headliners Pulled Apart By Horses, with a strong second album and a reputation for messy live shows, expectations are high. From the very first chords of ‘Crapsons’ they own the crowd, as singer Tom Hudson thrashes into his guitar with blistering fury. This is the kind of music that makes you want to scream in complete stranger’s faces, but sadly the euphoria comes to an abrupt halt thanks to a serious lapse in crowd control. We scuttle out, heads down hoping for better things on Sunday.
Early-risers were out in force to welcome local lads The Crookes. Looking a far cry from the flippy haired waifs that graced Sheffield’s back-street clubs they look sharper and more imposing, posturing like latter day matinee idols for the afro-pop shuffle of ‘Blood Shot Days’. Meanwhile at the Quarry, last minute stand-ins, Max Raptor are trying to do the impossible, getting a fiercely hung-over Sunday afternoon crowd to dance. Undaunted singer … keeps up the fight, with muttered curses, until he finally breaks through. Huddled in the crowd in between a delirious tangle of limbs their rabble-rousing grungy-hardcore has earned them some serious new converts.
Fast becoming a popular force among generations of new singer-song writers, shy Lucy Rose captures our hearts. Songs like ‘Middle of the Bed’ echoes gently around the room. Confessing to playing to her biggest festival crowd, ever, she even tries her hand at stage diving, and as she floats, arms happily outstretched over the crowd she carries us along with her.
Momentum just keeps gathering for Slow Club, with a full band and singer Rebecca Taylor occasionally tackling a full drum kit in place of her token snare its seems they mean business. Ending with the loud enveloping chorus that Slow Club do well, with some impromptu topless dancing ,(boys only) thrown in for good measure.
When Roots Manuva enters the stage we’re already on a high, as moving effortlessly from smooth flowing reggae to fast-paced dance tracks he sets the stage alight. With an onstage DJ and an incredibly dexterous drummer they create sounds that compel you to dance. As the crowd bounce along to a joyful version of ‘Witness the Fitness’ they bounce along with us, welly clad legs shuffling in time.
Dashing over to the main stage for on last night hit I catch the end of We are Scientists main stage set. The crowd is looking lively and ready to let loose one last time. Classics like ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ are interwoven with their cheeky line in onstage banter. Singer Keith Murray commandeers a flouro tabard and appoints himself head of security, while guitarist Chris Cain offers dating advice. As Keith leans back and belts out into the mike, the crowd are already exchanging numbers and making plans for next year and I am definitely happy to be one of them.