Y Not Festival 2016: A Review

Y Not Festival 2016 captured the hearts of thousands, allowing music, joy and new experiences to take over our lives for the best part of 4 days.

Apart from my first ever roller disco, Thursday granted Y Not punters to experience the genuine sensation of being in a cloud. Rain threw down from the heavens, and being located in the Peak District, it really wasn’t that much of a distance.

Luckily, Friday came about and the heavens closed up for the most part. The sun came out as local boys TRASH entered The Big Gin Stage. Opening up the main stage at Y Not is a big deal for these Chesterfield indie-rockers, luckily the crowds have come out in hoards to support them. Treating young and old alike to new songs alongside top tunes like ‘Workout’ and ‘Hot Coffee’ resulted in a huge midday mosh pit and a clear sign that TRASH are absolutely smashing it. The main stage also held host to Samm Henshaw’s incredible stage presence and uplifting participation on Friday, as well as the indisputable brilliance of Everything Everything. However, most of the day was spent exploring the rest of the site.

Arnie’s tent was an exciting selection of the most exciting upcoming bands right now. Duke Mercury Episodes were personal highlights. Even better was New Luna, even at 1:30pm on Friday a packed out tent saw the Manchester indie/post-punk rockers cause the crowd to go wild which later led to physical sounds of disappointment when the band left the stage. After a bit of an indie overload, it was time to head to The Giant Squid. This tent is the wet dream of all heavy rock/punk/garage fans. Cassels were the first reason for my visit to the “big octopus” as someone behind me referred to it, and for good reason. After having to drop out last year, and a new EP imminent, the sibling duo brought their electric ferocity to the stage with old and new tunes, “this is a quiet one about living too long” youngster Jim tells the crowd before diving into new single ‘Ignoring All The Tunnels & Lights’. The atmosphere still remains a positive one, and before crashing into ‘Hating Is Easy’ they do some quick merch promo, including lighters “for all you arsonists out there”. Cassels were insane live and seem like chill dudes, excited to see them again.

A few hours later Nai Harvest packed out the tent for one of their final ever performances, thrashing out ‘Ocean of Madness’ and ‘Just Like You’ as hundreds of loved up teens throw themselves around, knowing it’s probably their last chance to do so. Similar scenes occur when Eagulls finally grace the stage. Eagulls are a band that never disappoint, the raucous drums and guitars echoed by George Mitchell’s haunting vocal creates an aura of aggressive exhilaration in all.

Saturday morning brings the festival highlight every year at Y Not. It’s 11:30am and a flag at the front of the main stage reads “We’re only here for Mr Motivator!” Maybe not “only” for the festival, but it’s the only reason I’m up before midday on a Saturday. Half an hour of knees up, doing the funky chicken and subtle dirty jokes from the spandex-covered legend himself is the ultimate way to wake up. If you think that’s weird, the next stop took us to a travelling Wall of Death. Which was insane. Look it up. In-between trips to Club Malibu (the 80s dance tent) and rides on the dodgems, I caught selections of Catfish & the Bottlemen and Circa Waves. Predictably good bands live, little to offer for exciting live shows unless you enjoy being punched in the head by rowdy 15 year olds. Instead I spent my time getting punched in the head by older, more mature mosh pits in the crowds of Dinosaur Pile Up, Gnarwolves, Milk Teeth and the incredible HECK. HECK are like no other band to ever be witnessed live, pure chaos, an insanely psychotic show. Their frenzied extreme noise almost hypnotises you into a state of total disregard for your own safety. Heads flying off each other, pile ups and a huge gap where the pit is opened. HECK’s guitarist leaps off the stage and forcefully paces around the outside of the circle, looking around as though these hundreds of people wouldn’t dare leap into a pile of tangled bodies in the blink of an eye, but alas, they would. After a well needed sit down and inspection of impending bruises the night draws to a close, finishing off with a DJ set from the one and only Mike Skinner. Three words: lost my mind.

Next morning was tough. Hangovers galore meant I didn’t head into the arena until 1 to catch Will Joseph Cook. ‘Girls Like Me’ and ‘Hearse’ managed to additionally brighten up the day, even with the sun blistering down on the friendly crowd. New song ‘Alive’ saw Cook put down his guitar and walk free across the stage, microphone firmly in hand. “That was very pleasant!” a middle aged man shouts from beside me, the politeness of a midday crowd is a moment to treasure. The Magic Gang, Milky Chance and Safe To Swim help to continue the day with top quality indie goodness before the penultimate act of the weekend.

The Hives’ black and white aesthetic is a very pleasing one, half and half suits intrigue and compel the crowd to come closer. Frontman Pelle Almqvist immediately and obviously conveys why his nickname is ‘Howlin’, simply because he shouts and shrieks everything on stage. A comical performer, Almqvist consistently asks us “DO YOU LIKE ROCK N ROLL?!”, and continues on “well that’s good, because we’re THE GREATEST ROCK N ROLL BAND IN THE WORLD!” I’d have to dispute that, although The Hives were excellent live, but the enjoyment primarily stemmed from the born entertainer that is their frontman, rather than the not-so-revolutionary rock music of the Swedish band. And so, it’s time for my first but final headliner of the weekend. For the first time in years, the full and original line up of Madness return to the live stage, a strut in Suggs’ stride, knowing he can’t put a foot wrong. Banger after banger, ‘House of Fun’ to ‘Baggy Trousers’ to ‘One Step Beyond’, the crowd was uncontrollable with delight and rowdy dance moves. Joined by Angus Young on stage, a cover of ACDC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ goes down a storm before a heart-warming performance of ‘It Must Be Love’. Hugs and kisses explode throughout the crowd, groups of friends grab each other tightly, singing with full voices all the while. The set closes with my favourite Madness track ‘Night Boat To Cairo’, a smashing finale for a smashing weekend. Let’s do it again next year.