Festival Review: Y Not Festival 2016

y not 2016 bannerY Not 2016

Words and Photos: Fi Carroll

y not sold out posterThe fact that Y Not 2016 is barely over and early birds tickets for next year’s festival are already sold out emphasises just how amazing this festival truly is. I’ve always classed Y Not as my favourite of all festivals and after spending an epic four days at the site in Derbyshire Y Not most definitely reaffirmed it’s place in the top spot with bells on!! Despite it’s expansion over the past few years Y Not has managed to keep hold of that boutique feel smaller festivals often lose as they grow somehow preserving a chilled out atmosphere amongst all the hustle and bustle that comes with festival life. With an abundance of live music, late night cinemas and daring attractions for the thrill seekers amongst us this festival has something for anyone and everyone and when you’re exhausted from all that fun you can simply retreat back to the campsite of your choice to wind down or carry on the party if you actually have any energy left to do so . From the minute we arrived on site on Thursday afternoon until the early hours of Monday morning when we packed up camp (probably not advisable to do so in the dark, although it did provide a few more laughs!) Y Not Festival was an absolute blast I’m already counting down the days to Y Not 2017.


Ahead of the festival The Allotment stage looked like it would be the most enticing of all the stages on offer over the weekend with This Feeling and JD Rocks combining forces to bring the best upcoming bands to the festival it was bound to be a sure winner and by God it was. I might as well of hitched my tent up right behind the stage as I pretty much set up camp here for the whole four days. After arriving on site on Thursday it was our first port of call and quickly became our base for the weekend. If watching the best upcoming bands is your thing this was definitely the place to be, it was almost as if there was a mini festival happening within the actual festival itself. Well done Mikey Jonns, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing the emergence of This Feeling’s very own festival in the not so distant future.

The Assist kicked things off on our favourite stage on Friday and despite a midday stage time they pulled in the crowds and immediately set the bar for the rest of the bands to follow. Having seen these boys on multiple occasions I’m well aware of their talent, but not having heard their new tracks live I was pretty keen to see where their new direction would take them on stage and once again it was pretty dam impressive. It’s clear The Assist have matured, well on stage if not off eh boys, what happens at Y Not stays at Y Not!! They really have defined their own style musically whilst they’ve still got that raw edge that make them stand out from the crowd The Assist have definitely taken themselves to the next level since the last time I caught them live.


judas y not festival fi carrollNext up were Popped favourites Judas, who once again gave a stadium esque performance as if they were actually headlining Y Not itself with the crowd bouncing from start to finish and people on shoulders throughout it certainly felt like this was their very own show as even the introduction a new unheard before track into their set had the audience singing back. I honestly never get tired of watching these boys and with stunning performances like this, it’s no wonder I got mobbed handing out CD’s at the end of their set.

Following outstanding back to back performances from The Assist and Judas as the tent emptied out with the much awaited arrival of the sun I did wonder just how many would head back over to catch Liverpool rockers The Jackobins. Turns out I had little to worry about, as this year’s Y Notter’s clearly know a good band when they hear one and packed out the place to standing room only as soon as the boys took to the stage. Whilst it’s no secret how much of a Jackobins fan I am there’s a time and place when even your favourite of bands surprise you and for me this was it not even I could have expected a performance that would wow myself and the rest of the crowd so much. Switching up old favourite She Always Says worked a treat and got the crowd instantly involved in their set I even had to put my camera down during this song just to take in the enormity of what was happening. With frontman Dominic Bassnett on top form and lead guitarist Veso Mihaylov thrashing out riff after riff The Jackobins played undoubtedly the best gig of their lives the atmosphere in that tent during their performance was nothing short of electric I could quite happily watch these boys all day.

After a thrilling three hours of watching the best new bands out there I reluctantly tore myself away from The Allotment Stage to check out INHEAVEN over at The Quarry, I must admit having previously seen this band live, it wasn’t a performance I was highly anticipating. However it seems a lot has changed in the few months since I watched them at Leeds Brudenell. Having only lasted a few songs of their performance then, this time I was massively impressed with their sound as soon as they began to play. INHEAVEN certainly proved to be one the most unexpected surprises of the festival and definitely a band I need to check out more.


Friday night ended just as the day had begun camped out at The Allotment stage with explosive sets from Paves, Broken Hands, Black Honey and copious amounts of Jack Daniels on offer backstage, it proved to be where the party was at a full on rock ‘n’ roll circus. There was a tremendous vibe around this stage during the day, when the bands were in action and it was great to see it continue long into the night, as the live music stopped, the drinks flowed and the bands who had performed chilled with each other and got up to antics that can never be revealed!!

eliza and the bear y not festival fi carrollAfter the mayhem and excitement that Friday’s exploits brought, which lasted well into the early hours courtesy of my good mate Jack, Saturday got off to an early, but chilled start in our camp. As we all headed our separate ways to explore the festival site in more depth I began to realise just how much Y Not had expanded since my last visit making my way from The Quarry to The Big Gin Stage seemed liked an epic journey. One well worth it when Eliza and The Bear took to the stage. This band have fast become one of my favourites to watch having already caught them at Sound City and Blackthorn Festival this year, I was itching to see Eliza and the Bear in action once again. Despite watching their set on my own, I definitely felt like I was still amongst friends and family. The place erupted into a full on festival frenzy, with the entire crowd singing and dancing in unison. It  generated an atmosphere bursting with exhilaration. Eliza and the Bear are definitely a festival staple when it comes to live music. If these guys are on the bill, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.


Thankfully by Saturday I’d found a short cut between my two favourite stages and was able to dash between the two much more easily allowing me to squeeze in a few more bands. Next highlight of the day came from Swansea band Trampolene. With their combination of spoken word and alternative rock, these guys really bring something fresh and new with their performance. Another unsigned band showing more prestigious bands how it’s done. If you’ve not yet seen these guys yet I highly recommend you do and sooner rather than later.


catfih and the bottlemen y not festival fi carrollBack over at The Big Gin is where we headed to watch Catfish and the Bottlemen. Two years ago at Y Not I was lucky enough to stand side stage to watch The Bottlemen play one of their biggest shows to date. On the cusp of their massive breakthrough and ahead of the release of debut album The Balcony these boys put on an unforgettable performance two years and two albums later the Bottlemen really have set the world alight. They’re known for  delivering a performance of epic proportions, beating every other I’ve seen hands down. With such an enormous and energetic crowd tossing around inflatable alligators throughout, Catfish and the Bottlemen could have easily been mistaken for Y Not Saturday headliners. They’ve already headlined their first festival at Liverpool Sound City this year and I very much doubt it will be long before they add more to that list.

For many Little Comets inclusion as headliners may have seemed an odd choice after all they’ve been around for years and are currently on the way to producing album number four, but for me they fitted perfectly with the ethos of what This Feeling/JD Rocks is all about. Little Comets have never conformed or compromised at making the music they want and have still managed success which is a real inspiration for all bands trying to make it in today’s music industry. Ditching Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds in favour of seeing a band I’ve seen umpteen times may have also seemed like an odd choice to many, after all festivals are predominantly about catching bands you wouldn’t normally see, however anyone who witnessed their set complete with an onstage marriage proposal and a full on party following suit will know that was an extremely wise choice indeed. Little Comets set on Saturday night was just too good to miss and thankfully I didn’t. Just as Thursday and Friday had ended Saturday night’s party continued into the earlier hours well until the JD bar was drank dry that is, but when has that ever stopped us we simply just moved the party back to our camp and continued the never ending festivities, no rest for the wicked it seems!!

Sunday began bright and early with the intention of packing up camp before catching our choice bands of the day however this proved far too difficult with Y Not offering performances from Vant, Sunset Sons, The Vyrll Society, The Cape Race and a whole host of other amazing acts so the tent stayed in place and off we went for another music fuelled day. First act of the day for us were cool cats No Hot Ashes who I’m pretty sure now think I’m stalking them after seeing them at back to back festivals recently!! But I can live with that seeing as every time I’ve watched this indie/funk four piece they truly blow me away No Hot Ashes are fast becoming the definition of game changers with each performance more feisty and daring than the last, full blooded, energetic and lively these boys have definitely got what every aspiring band and music fan craves.

vant y not festival fi carrollThe next few hours were spend up at the main stage after bumping into both Vant and Sunset Sons we stuck around to have a catch up with the bands before their performances, both of which were not only highlights of the day, but the entire weekend. First up on The Big Gin were Vant who despite ending up with little more than a twenty minute slot due to main stage technical difficulties well and truly smashed Y Not out of the park. Mattie Vant not only ventured into the crowd, but somehow managed to continue playing his guitar whilst crowd surfing at the same time. As if that wasn’t enough excitement despite being told time was up and they had played their last song Mattie took one look at the stage manager another at the crowd and played one more song a performance of epic proportions doesn’t even cover it.

Next came another favourite, but first Rory Sunset Sons Williams I’ve got something to say!  You left this place without something on a warm summer’s day…. I looked at your set list and you never guess what I saw, a track left out! Whilst the inclusion of track Lost Company would have been the icing on the Y Not cake I really can’t complain too much after all Sunset Sons did in my opinion pull off their best performance to date. The energy displayed by the band has always been something I’ve loved, but this performance was on another level lead vocalist Rory Williams impressed me more than ever not just with his perfect vocals, but with his showmanship climbing the barriers into the crowd mid performance. This coupled with drummer Jed and bassist Pete constantly jamming together and clearly enjoying every minute made Sunset Son’s performance my favourite of the day it really was wonderful to see these boys back on the road again.

After a well needed rest I headed over to catch Blossoms only to find Lucy Rose taking to the stage an hour later than planned. It seems it wasn’t just the main stage experiencing difficulties and Blossoms highly anticipated appearance had been delayed. Not one to moan I took advantage of the situation and watched the beginning of Lucy Rose’s set before heading over to watch Liberty Ship and The Vryll Society  before eventually venturing back to catch Blossoms. Unfortunately that didn’t go quite to plan as despite being told earlier they had a 10.15 pm stage time I arrived back to find the lads more than half way through their set. With the tent packed to the rafters it seems it wasn’t meant to be so back off across the site I went to catch one more band before Y Not 2016 came to a close.

I quickly rushed over to The Saloon to see The Cape Race and despite having witnessed their first performance in almost two years I still can’t quite believe that they’re actually back. What a way to end the festival. I’d almost forgotten just what a formidable frontman David Moloney was and despite a pretty small crowd to begin with he commanded the room like he’d never been away; enticing passers-by into the venue to partake in their set. What followed was nothing short of incredible fellow fans and people who’d never even heard a single track sang and danced the night away. The band ended their set with the performance of track Now, Voyager and that’s where it all got a bit emotional. This song and has got me through a lot over the years so for it be the last song I heard at Y Not Festival was pretty significant and overwhelming, cue the tears God I’ve missed this band!!

So as the last bands packed up and the festival goers began to disembark, we said our goodbyes and headed back to pack up our camp. But as always there was still time for some more antics as we cranked up the stereo and danced around our camp one last time, before heading home in a jam packed car that strongly resembled a game of Tetris, one wrong move and it was all over. Who needs comfort anyways?!! All in Y Not 2016 surpassed all my expectations and will undoubtedly remain the highlight of the entire festival season if not the year until next time. Y Not thank you and goodnight.

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